Top 10 Summer Activities to Boost Your College Resume

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The Ultimate List Every High Schooler Should Use to Plan Their Summer

You know what it means when that last bell of the school year rings. You grab your backpack, throw up a peace sign, and run out the door. It’s time for summer! Before you reach for your bathing suit, remember that colleges care about how you use this free time to further yourself. Demonstrating a commitment to personal growth can be the deciding factor that gets you into the college of your choice, and can even score you scholarships.

These 10 summer activities will boost your college resume and help you stand out from the rest.

1. Hone Your Passion

Who says building your college resume has to center around grades and classrooms? The summer months provide a perfect opportunity to explore something that intrigues you. Colleges are looking for multi-dimensional students who pursue a passion outside of the school’s four walls. Have you been thinking about learning guitar? Do you want to try your hand at knitting or even learning to code? Hobbies like these add a splash of personality to your college resume, and may even help you find your future career.

2. Take an Online Course

It’s tough to get back into the swing of things after months away from active learning. Continuing your education during this time away from school often means getting a head start to graduation, growing your academic ability and improving your GPA. Plus, there are loads of courses to choose from that go far beyond an average curriculum, especially at institutions known for innovation like Arizona State University. The best part: online courses don’t require an early wake-up! Learn more about how online classes work here.

3. Work It

In addition to earning some cash, work experience reads well on a college application (and IRL). Even bagging groceries part-time shows colleges you are a responsible person. In maintaining a job, you demonstrate time management, teamwork and listening skills. This article from ThoughtCo points out, “Experiences at work can provide excellent material for your college application essay, and if you’ve maintained a strong academic record, colleges will be impressed by the discipline required to balance work and school.”

4. Pack Your Bags

While recreational travel is personally rewarding, colleges appreciate travel opportunities that exhibit commitment, curiosity and/or productivity. One great way to explore a new culture while improving your college resume is studying abroad. There are ample programs for high schoolers that allow you to safely leave your comfort zone while engaging in a new level of cultural discovery. With only 10 percent of students participating in study abroad programs in their academic career, this kind of experience helps your college resume stand out significantly.

5. Pick Up a Second Language

Almost 7,000 languages are spoken across the world. Unfortunately, the U.S. is dramatically falling behind in foreign-language skills. With the nearly endless resources available through smartphones, book systems and tutoring programs, learning another language is just a matter of commitment. Not only does a second (or third) language add something special to your college resume, learning a language also stimulates the brain and increases overall intelligence. Pro tip: While you’re at it, take a concurrent enrollment language course with ASU Prep Digital to satisfy college prerequisites.

6. Prep for the SAT or ACT

SAT and ACT standardized test scores are critically important aspects of your college resume. Colleges see these scores as a gauge for how you might fare academically at their institution. The reasoning is that they are more likely to invest in students who they believe will reflect well on their programs and honor their alma mater as alumni. While the tests may seem tedious, the College Board announced that SAT coaching can significantly improve scores. So, take advantage of those summer months and get to prepping to boost your college resume.

7. Break Out of Your Shell

It’s easy to get into a comfortable routine with friends and family while you’re in high school. During the summer, find a way to explore outside your usual circles. The more conversations you have with people who maintain a different point of view, the further you can expand your own worldview. The teenage years are rife with self discovery, and you may meet some of the most influential characters in your life’s story by pushing yourself outside your social comforts. Who knows? Those new characters and stories could set the stage for a compelling and deeply personal college essay.

8. Find Your Entrepreneurial Spirit

Distinguish yourself from other applicants by investing in your entrepreneurial dreams. Today’s business world is bustling with fresh attitudes and innovative ideas. And, believe it or not, teens are at the helm of burgeoning businesses now more than ever. By flexing your entrepreneurial muscle, colleges will know you are ready to bring innovation, dedication and determination to their campuses. Check out these 13 teen business ideas to get your gears grinding.

9. Visit Prospective Colleges

As much as you are auditioning for colleges during the application process, don’t forget that they should also be auditioning for you. By visiting the institutions that spark your interest, you get a real sense for the school’s points of pride, student culture and daily pace. The interactions you witness and information you glean on a tour can also help you tailor your application materials to that school. During your visit, get to know students who are enrolled and ask them what they love or dislike about their school. Every interaction of this kind will prove to be invaluable.

10. Find Opportunities to Do Good

Whether you are volunteering with a nonprofit or helping to tutor your classmates on a subject you’re strong in, colleges place a high value on the opportunities taken to demonstrate kindness. Yale recently added an essay question on their application asking applicants to “reflect on engagement with and contribution to their family, community, and/or the public good,” to assess the goodwill students will add to their community. While a great GPA and packed extracurriculars boost a college resume, personal examples of compassion will make it (and you) shine.


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