Rising seniors take note: this is your last summer before applying to college, and you would be wise to use it as an opportunity to make yourself a more interesting person and, therefore, a more appealing college applicant. This is the time to explore your passions, up your involvement in the community, or get a job. Colleges want to see that you use this time productively. They also want to see that, if you have an interest or goal, you are pursuing it in depth.
There are any number of great ways to spend your break. Here are some options:
College programs for high school students:
Many colleges offer programs in a number of disciplines specifically geared toward rising seniors. These programs could offer a chance to do scientific research, learn a new language, dip your toe into the business world, or even make a short film. At the same time, students get a chance to experience life on campus. Many of these programs have applications due now or soon. Some of the programs cost a fair amount, some offer financial aid, and a select few are free. The time to start Googling is now.
Community college classes:
Taking classes at your local community college is an opportunity to dive deeper into an area of interest. Whether it’s astrophysics or pottery making, there’s a course out there for you.
There's no substitute for experience on the job. Check into internship opportunities with local businesses, government agencies, or political campaigns.
Show your initiative, sense of responsibility, willingness to function within an established framework, and ability to work as part of a team--all skills that will serve you well in life and that colleges want to see.
If there is a cause you care about, find a way to be a part of it. That doesn’t mean spending two months in Costa Rica digging wells (although that would be lovely). It can mean tutoring underserved kids, helping with neighborhood clean up, serving meals at a soup kitchen, or cleaning cages at an animal rescue site.
Help with family responsibilities:
Caring for family members, helping at a family business – these things take time and commitment and are as valuable as any other summer activity. Colleges understand, and respect, that some students' free time is occupied by family obligations.
Whatever you do, stay engaged in the things you care about and demonstrate your passion. And, if there’s still time, go to the beach.