Countdown to College: Last-minute tips to make the most of your summer

What’s the best way for college-bound high school students to spend their summer?

You might be surprised when I tell you that relaxing and having some fun is near the top of my list. But, let’s be clear, it isn’t the only thing on my list.

Students should dabble in some type of career experience; it could be job-shadowing a physical therapist, volunteering on a political campaign or tutoring neighborhood children in reading or math. Don’t wait until the summer before senior year to do this, this goes for rising sophomores and juniors, too. One of the objectives of the summer break should be to test the waters and try to figure out what career fields or college majors might be of interest.

How you spend your summer vacation tells admissions officers a lot about what kind of student you are and what you care about. A perfect place to start is to think about your interests and passions. Then do a little research to see what organizations are out there that relate to your interests. Making a contribution locally with a nonprofit organization that is meaningful to you will certainly be more interesting to an admissions official than going on a teen tour of Europe.

Another great idea is to think about starting something on your own. Is there a club that you and a friend would like to start at your school in the fall? Now is a great time to build its foundation. What is the mission/vision? What do you want to accomplish? What events/programming will you plan? Do you need a teacher/adviser? Do you need to write club bylaws?

Tackling all of these questions demonstrates leadership; the most sought-after, transferrable skill from high school to college. Starting a club or organization allows you to do something that few at your school has done. You’ll have obstacles and challenges that will also provide you with good essay writing material. Besides that, you’ll be learning new skills, meeting new people and making a contribution.

Creating a club or organization is a great idea, especially if you are a rising sophomore or junior since it will allow you time to hone your organization and make improvements for the following year.

Last tip. Earn some money! It really doesn’t matter if it’s babysitting or working at the local grocery store, work experience is highly valued by colleges, and the paycheck is nice, too!