Note to Class of 2015, use this summer wisely

Question: I am finally coming up for air after a hard junior year and wonder what I should do this summer?

Answer: I certainly think all students need a well-deserved break after a season filled with SAT/ACT and AP testing but admission officers have a different take on summer. They will look at junior summer as if it were another class to see how a student uses their time and contributes to their community outside of the classroom.  I like to see students use their summer as a chance to develop their interests or skills in an endeavor that they did not have time to pursue in-depth during the school year. For some students this might actually entail remaining in school but taking classes at Bellevue College or even the University of Washington, in subjects that interest them but that they do not have access to at high school such as programming or Arabic. Other students interested in computer science have taken short courses through Digipen or even online so that they are free to pursue other interests during the day. Some of my students have found it worthwhile to enroll in a pre-college program across the country so that they can sample what it might be like to actually study in a different region of the country and preview college life at that campus. Not all of these programs are actually taught by professors at the college where these programs are housed, so you would want to research this thoroughly, as it may not increase the likelihood of your being accepted at that university.

You might want to explore internship or shadowing opportunities, which are generally unpaid, in an area you might want to major in, such as business, engineering or the health field. While these internships can be difficult to find on your own, talk to parents of your friends to create contacts with adults who can direct you to professionals in the field. Sometimes it is a matter of sending out cover letters to different companies to see if there are summer opportunities. It would be important to include a copy of your resume and to let them know your willingness to contribute, even if that entails filing or data entry.

Admission officers also like to see that a student has held a job as this reflects well on a student’s maturity and time management skills. Many jobs are still available by searching on Craigslist Seattle as well as websites sponsored by Mercer Island Youth and Family Services. Likewise, summer can be a great chance to immerse yourself in volunteer organizations throughout Seattle. I recommend that students explore volunteermatch.org to find opportunities that they might be eligible for.

Finally, please use this summer as a chance to tackle your common application essays or those needed for any public universities you are applying to in the fall, as you will feel so much better having this behind you before you start your senior year.

Islander Joan Franklin is the owner of MI College Support, an independent college counseling practice (www.micollegesupport.org). She can be reached at 232-5626.


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