Many students will use the summer to get a jump on college applications or to take the first steps on their college journey. Here are some suggestions to make the most of the summer break in a strategic and sensible way.
Compose a killer essay. Admissions readers need the essay to get to know the applicant beyond the numbers. Students want to open a window onto their personality so it is important to be self-reflective and honest.
Admissions faculty want to learn about motivations that drive the student. They want to see individuality, determination and curiosity.
A strong essay shows a good deal of introspection and a self-awareness of strengths and how to portray them.
Students who choose to write about a challenge or failure in their lives need to be mindful of focusing too much on negative characteristics. Instead, highlight what was learned from the challenge and how it enhanced self-awareness, fortitude and perseverance.
Clean up social media. For years, college advisors have been encouraging students to sanitize their Facebook pages, but today’s social media is expanding online presence exponentially. And as Big Brother-esque as it may sound, admissions offices are watching. That said, students can use social media to boost, rather than hinder, their college applications. For example:
An appealing Twitter page that suggests cultural engagement and intellectual curiosity.
Mature personal blog posts.
News articles about a student’s academic or athletic accomplishments
Mentions of volunteer work on the organization’s website and social media.
Appropriate Facebook Groups and Facebook Likes.
Pre-college summer program. There are hundreds of summer programs on college campuses for high school students. Those that feature classes or engagement in a student’s particular interest (i.e. writing, robotics, science research) are the most valuable. Yet, some of these can be quite costly as they include room and board. Students who take a summer class in the local four-year, or community, college benefit from having the class on their resume. And often, college applications ask if the applicant has taken any college-level courses.
It is not too late to check the summer schedule of classes at the nearest college and register for the second summer session which typically begins in July. CUNY has several summer sessions depending upon the individual campus.