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Make the most of what’s left of your summer for that college application

Lee Bierer
Lee Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte.

It’s not too late to do something this summer that can impact your college application. Here are some suggestions of ways students can do something different – and make a difference.

Pick a passion. It really doesn’t matter what it is: cooking with organic foods, understanding the crisis in the Middle East, learning a new language, analyzing environmental issues and sustainability, discovering opera, investigating ethnic neighborhoods near your city, etc.

Whatever you choose, don’t do it halfway; dig deep and truly explore. Let curiosity get the best of you and document your research.

Learn a new skill. Do a little reading on website design and then try to create a website for a nonprofit that you care about. If they’ve never had a website, they’ll be thrilled with whatever you come up with, and as you learn more you can tweak and improve it.

Have you always wanted to play the guitar? The summer is a great time to test your talent.

Start a business. Think entrepreneurial. Colleges love students who have created something from nothing and have learned some lessons along the way.

Your business can be as simple as mowing lawns, reselling junk from your attic on Craig’s List, walking dogs for vacationing neighbors, power-washing driveways and decks or creating a neighborhood babysitting network.

You can keep the money or you can donate all or part of the proceeds to a community organization. You’ll need to create a brief business plan and understand how, where, when and to whom you should be marketing your services, and be sure to create competitive prices.

Serve your community. You can contact local organizations from animal rescue to health organizations and homeless shelters. They are always in need of volunteers. Visit a retirement community and play cards with the residents or paint the ladies’ fingernails. Spend some quality time with people who will really value your commitment.

Create a mini-summer camp. Work with some of your friends and organize a half-day camp experience for young children in your neighborhood. Design and distribute the flier and see how many families sign up. You can have small craft activities, sprinkler games and snacks. You will learn a lot about young kids and probably a lot more about yourself.

Keep a journal. Use some of your quiet time to reflect. Have you changed your views on anything important? See if you can find any mini-aha moments. These thoughts will likely be the foundation for your college essays.

Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte.
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