Lifelaunchr is a regular contributor to the Edmodo Blog. With articles written by Venkates Swaminathan, Founder/CEO of LifeLaunchr, the site provides parents and students with virtual and in-person coaching for all aspects of college planning, starting as early as freshman year. Watch for a new post regularly on the Edmodo blog and find out how you or your student can better prepare for a life-changing experience in college.
Summer programs can be a great opportunity for enrichment and learning as well as a way to enhance your college opportunities. At the most selective universities, admissions officials do consider how you used your summer vacations. For some students this means going on a community service trip abroad, for others, it means a great internship or college course, or a summer job. There are lots of options to find the best summer program for your needs.
FOUR TIPS TO PICK A SUMMER PROGRAM
- Follow your interests: Don’t visit Guatemala to work on a Habitat for Humanity project unless you care about housing for underprivileged communities. Over the course of a high-school career, it becomes obvious that you worked on projects only to pad your résumé. So pick things you care about.There are programs for students with virtually every interest. Whether you care about video game design, journalism, computers, or writing, you can find a summer program that will help you advance your interests.
- Consider the program’s reputation: Work with a coach who can help you find a program that fits your interests and is highly reputed. The quality of the instruction and mentoring you’ll receive at the program matters for its own sake. It also matters because admissions officials will consider it. Many top universities offer great summer programs, and those can be opportunities to learn and build relationships at those universities. If you’re considering applying to the University of California at Santa Barbara, for example, you can attend one of their many summer programs. Ivy League universities like Harvard also offer exceptional summer programs.
- Be honest about money: For students who don’t need to earn money for college, many great programs are worth the expense. But for students thinking about supporting their college education, getting a paying gig can be a great option. You’ll learn a lot about working, saving, and discipline by getting a job. For students in the middle, there are thousands of great internships that don’t pay money. You can teach kids to play the drums, volunteer at your local animal shelter, or read to students at a local childcare. These build your experience for work, teach you valuable skills, and will be great on your résumé when you apply for college.
- Start early: March is the time to start working on your summer plans. The good internships, job opportunities, and summer programs can be competitive, so getting an early start is critical. If you create a shortlist and get your application in now, you can have a great, fun, productive summer.
- The International Association of College Admissions Counselors has a crowd-sourced list of summer programs built by counselors.
- uSummer has a valuable list of summer programs.
- For students interested in specific subjects, many professional societies compile lists of summer programs. For example, the American Mathematical Society has a list of summer programs for students interested in STEM.
- CollegeExpress’ list of summer programs is useful and well-organized.