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18 Summer Activities to Impress Colleges 2023

18 Summer Activities to Impress Colleges

It's never too early to start thinking about your future, and if you're a high school student who plans on going to college, summer is a perfect time for you to jump-start or further advance your passions and interests to boost your college applications. While grades and standardized test scores are important factors, colleges also want to see that you're well-rounded and have interests outside of academics. With that in mind, here are 16 summer activities to impress college!

This article will categorize the activities as suitable for different grades so that you will have a general four-year plan of what to do for summer activities to impress colleges.

1. Use 9th-grade summer vacation to explore and discover summer activities to impress colleges

Participate in summer programs: Many universities provide a variety of pre-college summer programs for high school students to participate in, starting after 9th grade. These programs include cultural exchanges, volunteering, and various sports activities. These programs may also include music programs such as choral or band/marching band, science/research programs, summer theater performances (musicals and plays), veterinary/medical programs, and more. Furthermore, many of these programs give students the opportunity to live on campus and gain insight into college life. These programs can be an excellent way for students to gain college credit, enhance their college application, and gain a competitive edge in the admissions process.

Take summer or online courses: Many universities provide summer courses that allow students to experience the learning environment in a university classroom and deepen their knowledge in their fields of interest. You can even earn college credit before starting college. If you have any subjects that you struggle in, you can use vacation time to supplement your studies. Alternatively, you can take classes in advance during the summer to develop a stronger foundation before registering for the next semester. If you are interested in summer courses, check out Aralia’s online courses list!

Prepare for standardized tests: While domestic students have to prepare for the SAT and/or ACT, international students have to prepare for the TOEFL/IELTS and SAT, as well as AP tests. The scores for the TOEFL and IELTS are typically valid for two years, so if a student is not satisfied with their scores, they should consider preparing for these tests during the summertime.

Additionally, as these tests get closer, you should consider enrolling in a summer Prep Course for standardized tests. These courses can help students improve their scores and increase their chances of getting into their desired colleges. Aralia is one organization that provides standardized test prep courses and AP test tutoring programs. We have top-ranking college and university teachers who can help students prepare for the test and provide them with the necessary tools to achieve high scores.

Summer internship or job: Summer is a great time for high-school students to gain work experience and explore their interests through internships or part-time jobs. By looking for opportunities during their summer vacation, you can gain valuable experience in your field of interest before applying to college. Internships can also provide students with the opportunity to learn new skills, network with professionals, and gain insight into various industries.

Become an entrepreneur: If you are passionate about entrepreneurship and startups, consider starting your own business. There are many different types of businesses that students can start, from providing freelancing services to launching a more professional company. Some examples include offering tutoring or coaching services, starting a small e-commerce business, or developing a mobile app. We have also seen students start a nanny (childcare) business, pet watching/walking business, house-sitting business, yard-work business, and selling personal art. Check this article here to learn more about possible entrepreneurship opportunities for students.

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Summer reading/homework: Every summer, English classes assign reading and homework to help you prepare for the upcoming year. Make sure that you allocate an appropriate amount of time to working on these things so that you can have a strong start to each school year! You can also oftentimes find creative ways to combine your summer schoolwork with other ideas from this list (like creating artwork for an open-ended project to pursue your own passions as well)!

Do some community service: Summer break is the perfect time to engage in community service projects to really make your college application stand out! Do some research to figure out what opportunities are available to support causes that you’re passionate about. For more ideas, take a look at our article about Community Service Options for High School Students!

2. Make preliminary decisions about your personal development in Grade 10

For Grade 10, you can also do the activities stated for Grade 9, along with some other suggestions we have below:

Participate in competitions related to your academic and personal interests: The summer after grade 10 is an excellent time for students to explore potential future competitions they may want to participate in. Competitions can range from regional to national, and are in various fields such as academics, sports, arts, and more. Getting a high score or a prize is a huge benefit on your college application. If not, you will still have the chance to try again during the summer of Grade 11, and either way it will still be valuable experience. Pay close attention to the deadlines and estimate how much time you will need to prepare for the competition.

Browse school information online: Researching universities is essential in college application. Various resources are available to help students compare and evaluate universities, such as US News, Niche, and Forbes. These websites provide information on multiple universities including their geographic location, size, environment, admission requirements, tuition, grants, accommodation, facilities, and more. By using these resources, you can begin to create lists of universities you are interested in. As you start to narrow down the fields you’re interested in studying, you can do research and ask your high school counselor about what schools have the best programs for those areas of study.

University visits: You can also use this time to visit some universities you are interested in to compile a college list. Start collecting college/university information and visiting schools to talk with admissions representatives, tour guides, or current students, if possible. You can visit universities during spring and summer vacations when opportunities arise, either with your family or utilizing opportunities for official informative tours that you can register for on university websites. Prepare a list of questions to ask during campus visits in advance, and get answers through conversations with the school’s tour guide and professors, coaches, or students.

Continue to study for the SAT/ACT: Junior and senior years of high school can be busy and challenging as you focus on preparing for college applications and standardized tests. It’s recommended that students enroll in standardized test prep courses. These courses can help students improve their scores and increase their chances of getting into their desired colleges. Aralia is one organization that provides standardized test prep courses and AP test tutoring programs. We have top-ranking college and university teachers who can help students prepare for the test and provide them with the necessary tools to achieve high scores.

Learn a new skill: One of the good summer activities to impress colleges is to learn a new skill or pick up a new hobby that you can maintain and develop throughout the next two years. Examples include programming, sign language, sports, learning a new instrument, art, dance, video editing, cooking, poetry, and foreign language. Remember to choose something you genuinely enjoy and are excited about practicing.

Brainstorming about clubs/start a club: Universities often favor students who have demonstrated leadership and actively participated in school activities, as it shows initiative, motivation, and a willingness to contribute to their community. The summer of 10th grade is an excellent time for students to start planning potential ideas for clubs and club activities. By actively participating in various school activities, or starting a club that fits their interests, students can gain valuable leadership experience and make their college applications stand out.

Get involved with a sports/special interests program: Many schools and communities offer summer programs for people of all ages to have fun and get involved with their community. Check your school to see if they have any interesting summer opportunities like marching band or summer sports, or check community resources for other groups that may meet over the vacation. If you’re unable to find one that you’re interested in, you could consider starting a group based on your own interests! Consider asking your school or community for support, like providing a meeting space or allowing you to advertise for your group.

Engage in a summer job: If you have spare time during the summer, you can consider doing a summer job. Whether it’s a part-time job, an internship, or volunteering in your community, the commitment and dedication demonstrated through a summer job can greatly enhance your college application and demonstrate your ability to balance responsibilities while pursuing your passions. 

3. Grade 11: Prepare for College Applications

For Grade 11, you can also do the activities stated in Grade 9 and 10, along with some suggestions we have below:

Brainstorm for your college essays: The summer of Grade 11 is the perfect time for you to work on your college essays, especially in terms of idea formation and structure. Start brainstorming, and then write a draft of your personal statement to make applications easier in the following year. This will also give you an idea of areas in your application that you may want to focus on to boost your chances of getting into your top schools. Based on what you find, you may want to participate in internships, work, or community service activities related to your interests. If you do not have the chance to participate in internships, you can ask for job-shadowing opportunities; job shadowing is observing an employee in a professional setting to understand a particular field or position.

Conduct Research: 11th grade is an ideal time for students to explore research opportunities that can give them valuable experience. Research opportunities can come from various sources, such as AP classes, conversations with professors, local colleges, and research firms. It is important to note that research opportunities can be competitive, and the application process may require a resume, letter of recommendation, and a statement of purpose that will be due before summer break.

research process

Pursue a personal project: This summer, you spend time on your personal or passion projects in addition to preparing materials for college applications. Examples can be your business, novel writing, volunteering, community service at animal shelter, etc. These projects can be added to your resume, and will be one of the highlights of your high school career.

Read books recommended by colleges: If you have a dream school that you want to attend, consider checking out their summer reading list. Schools usually release a reading list for incoming first-years and current students to encourage conversations among them when the new semester begins. You can even incorporate the reading into your short essays or personal statement to further impress colleges!

We hope that this article has provided you with inspiration and motivation to make the most of your summers as a high-school student. The summer of your 12th-grade year is an important time for students to prepare for the transition to college, but it is also important to take the time to enjoy the company of family and friends.

There are many opportunities available to high school students to make the most of their summers, whether through internships, research opportunities, standardized test prep, or starting a business. By taking advantage of these opportunities, students can gain valuable experience, explore their interests, and enhance their college applications.

Please check out our articles and other resources for more information about high schools and colleges. These can provide additional information and guidance to help students navigate the college application process and make informed decisions about their futures.


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