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What students choose to do during the summer most certainly can improve their profiles during college admissions. Students should use these breaks to explore their interests and gain experience outside of the high school classroom. Whether students spend their summers earning money for college, taking care of younger siblings, doing volunteer work or research, or attending competitive summer programs, they will be elevating their uniqueness and demonstrating that they are responsible, reliable, and driven. What students do during the summer months will add depth to their applications and help admissions officers understand who they are and what they are passionate about.
For students that do not need to work full-time over the summer, there are many activities they can participate in such as academic exploration programs at universities across the country, internships, independent projects, volunteer work, part-time jobs, self-learning, and research. These activities can help students showcase their leadership, creativity, dedication, and collaboration skills. Many of these activities can be done part-time, so even if a student has family responsibilities, they can be considered. Please note that many summer programs open their summer applications in December or January, so now is the perfect time to start exploring these options.
Some summer programs are competitive and some simply fill up on a first-come-first-serve basis. The more competitive programs will require strong grades, essays, and recommendations. Applying to these programs can be similar to applying to colleges. Many of the competitive programs are also free, or charge comparatively lower fees than other programs, which is one of the reasons for their low acceptance rates. There are an incredible number of programs to choose from that are geared towards students in different years of high school, and students should choose programs that will highlight their passions. If students start early in high school, they can take a summer program to explore their interests, and, in later years, they can build upon an existing foundational interest to create a deep-dive into this area of interest. Sometimes, summer activities can extend into the school year or over multiple summers. And, of course, they can help students determine what they will choose to pursue in college.
Not all things in life have to be structured. Students can also create their own summer activities, such as a self-directed research or passion project, self-learning, or volunteering within their community. No matter the chosen path, it is imperative to be involved in an activity that is impactful and measurable, along with being memorable.
It is important to note that students who do not have the luxury of taking several weeks over the summer to attend a summer program or time to do volunteer work or a self-directed project are not at a disadvantage. Those who need to work or have family responsibilities, such as taking care of siblings, should communicate this in their college applications. Doing these things exhibits a tremendous depth of character, commitment, and responsibility. Admissions officers do not expect students to attend expensive programs. They want to understand the many ways in which students are spending time based on their circumstances.
With so many summer options available, it may seem like a daunting task to find the best fit for your student. Ufit College Consulting can help. Our certified college consultants can provide guidance on summer activities, including finding the best programs or activities for your student, helping with self-initiated projects, developing strong applications for competitive programs, and creating an overall strategy for meaningful things to do each summer. We also believe it is extremely important for students to take time for themselves to recharge and have fun over the summer. At Ufit, we will help your student achieve this balance, while helping them select activities that will result in a fun, interesting, and meaningful summer.
Here are some examples of various summer programs (please note there are MANY more out there):
STEM: Research Science Institute at MIT, Simons Summer Research Program, Vanderbilt Center for Science Research, Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR), Penn Summer Research Initiative, UIC CHANCE STEM Academy, Ross Mathematics Program at Ohio State University, Stanford University Mathematics Camp (SUMaC), Summer Science Program (SSP), WYSE High School Summer Camps at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Grainger College of Engineering, UIC Engineering Experience Camp, Georgetown Medical Academy, Forensic Science Academy, etc.
HUMANITIES: Telluride Association Sophomore and Junior Summer Programs (TASS and TASP), Carleton College Liberal Arts Experience, Yale Young Global Scholars, National Institute of American History and Democracy Pre-Collegiate Summer Pre-College Program in Early American History, Field Museum in Chicago Internships, Speech and Debate at Northwestern University through National High School Institute (Cherubs), Governor’s School Residential Program offered in various states, etc.
ARTS: Carnegie Mellon Summer Music Programs, Juilliard Pre-College Programs, NYU Summer Theater and Music Programs, MPulse Musical Theatre Workshop at U Michigan, and National High School Institute at Northwestern has Theater, Film, and Video Programs (Cherubs) etc.
INTERNSHIPS: local companies, high school STEM internships, internships with local and national politicians, etc.
VOLUNTEER: local libraries, hospitals, nursing homes, animal shelters, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, forest preserves and organizations such as American Red Cross, Meals on Wheels, Turnout Nation, Project Linus, etc.
UFit College Consulting
December is the time of the year that students find out whether they have been accepted, rejected, or deferred from the colleges they applied to during the early application process. It is a stressful time for students, as they focus on their first semester grades, while trying not to think about decision day. If you received an acceptance, congratulations! An acceptance needs no further discussion other than remembering that if your acceptance is to an early action (EA) school, you can still choose to apply to additional schools during the for regular decision process. If you have been accepted to an early decision (ED) school, you will be attending that school, barring any extenuating circumstances.
Now, let’s talk about the difficult news of receiving a rejection letter from your early decision or early action school. Is it going to feel devastating? Yes. No one likes to receive a rejection, but don't lose hope. Even though receiving a rejection from a school can be demoralizing and make you feel that you are not going to receive an acceptance anywhere else, we want to remind you that colleges reject strong candidates all the time. A college decision is often about your fit with the college. Perhaps it had too many similar candidates and had to make the difficult decision to accept only a few of these candidates. Remember that you will be a good fit at many colleges and receiving bad news from one is not a litmus test of your future college acceptances. You should not let this rejection discourage you from continuing on your college journey. Keep your chin up, apply to more schools during the regular decision round and soon you will likely have multiple options from which you can choose your home for the next four years.
What if you are deferred? Unfortunately, it may feel like you are in no-man’s-land. However, the good news here is that the college did consider you a strong candidate for their school, but they likely want to see more. They might be interested in your first semester grades to confirm your academic trends and get a full picture of you as a student in order to re-evaluate your application during regular decision with the rest of the applicant pool. Remember that colleges are looking to fill a class that is diverse and they will sometimes need to reconsider your application in the regular round to ensure they achieve this goal. Every year, colleges accept students who are deferred in the early round, so finish your semester strong and continue to excel in your activities.
As a deferred candidate, there are many things you can do to stay visible. You can communicate with your regional admissions officer by reiterating your interest in the school and sending an update on your first semester grades and any awards or honors you have received or activities you have started since your early application was submitted. Your high school guidance counselor will be sharing your first quarter grades with the school as well. Most schools will require you to send these updates, but you can also connect with your regional admissions officer to express your continued interest.
Here are some suggestions for when and how should you correspond with your regional admissions officer after a deferral decision:
If you would like help writing a letter of continued interest or polishing your applications for the regular decision round, please reach out to our certified college counselors at UFit College Consulting.