Employment is one of the most practical ways to build your resume and impress colleges. Even if working during the school year is not an option, there are often seasonal establishments such as residential summer camps that look for help specifically during the summer months. Any job is good, but working in a leadership position or in an academic area would be ideal. The more a job challenges you, the more it builds the skills that colleges and future employers are interested in seeing in applicants.
Do good. Community service is another great way to gain some valuable work and leadership experience. Nonprofits such as soup kitchens and animal shelters are always looking for volunteers, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find a volunteer organization near you that could use an extra pair of hands for a few hours a week during the summer.
While this may not be a viable option for everyone, summer travel can be an exciting way to enrich your mind while enhancing your resume. Visiting and exploring foreign places will broaden your horizons, allowing you to expand your awareness of other peoples and cultures. It’s also a great chance to develop language skills.
'Summer school' doesn’t always have to be a bad thing, and colleges may look kindly upon applicants who take the initiative to further their education over the summer. There are a variety of options available for high school students to take summer courses, both at their own schools and at local colleges. If your high school offers summer classes, this could be a great way to advance your math or language skills, two areas that often fall short on college applications. Local community colleges also offer credit-bearing summer courses for high school juniors and seniors on a variety of introductory-level topics. This will not only look great on your transcript, but it also provides an opportunity to get a jump start on general education requirements for college and allows you to explore possible career options.
Summer Enrichment Programs
Along with summer classes, enrichment programs can be another valuable and educational summer experience. Investigate the types of summer enrichment programs offered by local youth groups or area colleges and universities. Many of these organizations have residential or day camps for high school students focused on specific topics such as music, creative writing, science, engineering and a variety of other areas of interest. These programs are a good way to explore and gain experience in fields you may want to study in college.
It almost goes without saying that campus visits should be part of any college applicant’s summer plans. Of course, while these visits are a priority when considering which colleges to apply to, it is important to remember that they should be just one part of your summer equation. A few campus tours don’t constitute a summer’s worth of experience; they should be included in your plans, along with other resume-building activities and experiences, in order to set you apart from your fellow applicants.
Learn More: Make the Most of Your Campus Visits
Beef Up Your SAT or ACT Skills
Don't waste a summer preparing for a four-hour exam -- everything else on this list has more value for your personal growth and college preparation. That said, standardized tests are an important part of the admissions equation at most of the country's highly selective colleges. If you've taken the SAT or ACT and your scores aren't what you think you'll need to get into your top choice colleges, then the summer is a great time to work through an exam preparation book or take a test prep class.