Summer Enrichment Opportunities Can Create Stand-out College Applications.
There is a nip in the air and frost (maybe snow) on the ground in many parts of the country, so the topic of summer enrichment opportunities for high school students may seem a little out of place, but now is the time to learn more about the variety of opportunities available and have a plan in place for spring enrollment or applications. First, let’s back up and learn why these opportunities are important to students and colleges.
Things have changed over the years in the college admissions process. There was a time when obtaining high school diploma with a list of minimum criteria classes, would get you into a “good” college. Today, the path to college is getting increasingly more competitive as more students seek higher education. Simply meeting the criteria for high school graduation will no longer suffice when applying to selective state schools, let alone very selective private schools. Consider this:
- College applicants with the highest GPA’s and the most challenging course rigor have the best opportunity to get into a given college and receive preferential program offers and scholarships.
- However, GPA and course rigor is just one piece of the admissions selection criteria. Colleges want students that are passionate about something and demonstrate that interest in a variety of ways in and out of school.
- Colleges are also looking for students engaged in their community. Ideally, students will use their passion and skills to help others.
- Rather than looking for students that get involved in a little bit of everything, colleges now prefer students that can use critical thinking and problem solving skills to dig deep into an interest or challenge. Think depth over breadth.
- With few exceptions, colleges don’t expect students to know their college major when applying, but they do want to see that a student is a curious and capable learner with a strong work ethic, ready to explore the educational and social opportunities in a college environment.
This is where summer enrichment activities can boost a student’s academic or extra-curricular resume. Summer activities can be anything that allows a student to explore, learn and create self-discovery. These activities do not have to be full-time throughout the summer to “count”. Nor do they have to be academic in nature. But by participating in an activity that a student is held accountable for in some way, helps colleges see the student’s desire to learn, improve themselves and take responsibility.
Good summer enrichment opportunities will stretch a student’s learning on a specific academic topic, develop leadership skills, offer new educational or athletic skills, provide service to others or could even include learning-based travel. If a student has a future major or career in mind, colleges particularly like to see a student gaining as much knowledge as possible around that career by taking a summer class or program at a local college, volunteering in a related capacity or shadowing professionals in the field. Some of these opportunities may come with a price tag, but there are plenty of ways for students to get good experiences at little to no costs. In fact, having a summer job is seen as an extra-curricular activity. Showing leadership and increased responsibility in that job is seen very favorably by admissions officers.
The holiday school break is a great time to have discussions with your high school student and research opportunities in your area. High school guidance counselors and Independent Educational Consultants can be a great resource for finding opportunities, and an internet search will open up a world of ideas. Many specialized summer programs are competitive and require an application, and often have early spring deadlines, so get a jump on the research now. Yes, bake the holiday cookies with the kids, but also set aside some time to help your high school student explore and plan their summer activities. It’s that important for college-bound students.
College in 3-2-1 provides comprehensive college preparation services for high school students including high school course selection, college research and list development, application assistance, essay consultation, and financial aid, extra-curricular and summer enrichment counseling.