It’s only January, and summer vacation is months away, but now is actually a great time for you to think about what you want to do this summer. How you spend your summer is important for your college applications, and also important in helping you learn more about yourself and what your interests and strengths are.
There is no one way to spend a summer that colleges prefer, or that “looks better” on a college application, as long as you are engaged in something interesting, challenging, or meaningful in some way. Colleges don’t prefer scientific research to working to community service, or athletics to theater or taking a college course. The options can be a bit overwhelming, so if you’re wondering what to do this summer, here are some helpful questions to ask yourself to get started with your search.
What did you do last summer? Think about what you did last summer and if you would like to do something similar, or if you want to try something new. If you really liked what you did last year, you might want to build on your previous experience. Or you can explore a new interest and try something completely different.
Where do you see yourself? Whether you want to live at home, or study abroad, selecting a location is a simple way to focus your search. Your options will vary depending on if you want to stay close to home, travel across the country, or across the world, so it’s important to think about where you want to be.
What are you interested in? Let your interests lead the way when it comes to how you spend your summer. Colleges want to know who you are, and how you spend your summer can say a lot about your personality. You can continue exploring a long-held interest, or use the summer as an opportunity to try something you’ve always wanted to. It’s your summer, so you should enjoy it!
How much time do you have? The summer is pretty long, so you may not want to spend the whole time on your “summer activity.” It’s generally a good idea to spend at least 2 weeks on a focused summer activity or program, but don’t feel like you need to fill your whole summer. It’s okay to take some time and go on a long vacation with your family, or just hang out with your friends.
Even though summer might feel like it’s forever away, you should begin planning your summer now. Many programs admit students on a rolling basis, meaning it’s better to apply early when there are more spaces available. Starting to think about what you want to do now will give you enough time to make the best choice for summer without feeling rushed or potentially losing out on a great opportunity because of space limitations.