Stretch Yourself This Summer

One of the most important factors of any strong college application is establishing yourself as a well rounded student. It can be challenging for you to set yourself apart from your peers during the school year because every student at IWA has the same opportunities to take the same rigorous classes and participate in the same clubs, organizations, sports and leadership activities. So, summer provides a great opportunity for you to distinguish yourself.

Think of summer as a blank canvas with which to express yourself, not just a few months of free time. What you do with your summer is a great way to show college admissions officers what is important to you. It is also a great time to accomplish things you need to do before the hustle and bustle of the school year returns. If possible, I think it is a good idea for students to pursue their academic interests in a college environment. This demonstrates an intellectual curiosity that colleges value. While participating in a pre-college summer program does not guarantee an acceptance letter in the future, spending a week or two on campus and going into more depth in an area of interest will absolutely be helpful as you try to determine what colleges should remain on your interest list or what you might want to study after high school. Our website has several suggestions about options for summer enrichment.

What else can students do besides academic enrichment?

Volunteer: Summer is a wonderful time to become more engaged in your community through service projects or mission trips.

Work: Paid work experience is highly regarded by admissions officers because it requires students to demonstrate maturity, responsibility and dedication. It doesn’t matter what level the job is--  in supermarkets, restaurants or retail establishments; even babysitting can count as work experience.

Explore: Internships and job-shadowing experiences can be a great way for a student to explore different professions. Seeing what day-to-day life is like in specific careers can be a pivotal, life-changing experience and is a great way to network and establish connections that might be beneficial beyond college.

Create: Be entrepreneurial or start something new. Create a business with a friend and make some money, or devote time to a creative project such as building a portfolio.

Prepare: think about a club you might like to create, and do the necessary planning over the summer or do some goal setting for the fall. Prepare for standardized tests, visit campuses and get organized. Juniors, begin writing your college essays.

— Lorien Cuneo, IWA college counselor