The summer after your junior year does not have to be filled with stress and anxiety. You don’t have to sit around worrying and wondering if you’ve done everything you need to do to be noticed and hopefully selected by the college of your choice. In fact, if planned ahead of time, the summer after your junior year can be the perfect opportunity to participate in a few activities that will not only make your summer memorable, but also help add substance to your college application.
While your peers worry about making a last ditch, herculean effort to impress the college admissions office by prepping for yet another standardized test, consider using your summer vacation to invest your personal time in activities that not only interest you, but will serve to impress an admissions officer or two.
Instead of spending the summer after your junior year feeling that you’re at the mercy of the office of admissions, look for opportunities to volunteer in your community that will serve a dual purpose: these will be opportunities that make you feel empowered AND serve to show the admissions office who you are as a prospective student.
It should be your goal to show admissions a more holistic view of what you have to offer as a candidate. Think about it: colleges need a reason to choose you over many other candidates that will pretty much, on paper, be carbon copies of you. So how will they choose you over applicant X, if you don’t give them a reason?
To give yourself a clear advantage, you’ll need to stand out from the crowd. Your volunteer activity should not only speak to who you are, but also intrigue the person reviewing your application. You need to show them that you are a creative and independent thinker – and pursuing a volunteer activity that showcases these two skills could lead to a yes, when otherwise you might have been a rejected or waitlisted applicant.
Again, be creative. With modern technology, you can even volunteer online and help individuals across the world. You could translate documents for a micro-loan organization in Ecuador from the comfort of your own home or help build a webpage for a non-profit in the developing world.
This might sound trite, but what better way to leave your mark on the world and impress your future alma matter (hopefully!) than to share your knowledge with others? You could easily start a YouTube channel offering fun videos on obscure subjects or you could go the more traditional route and tutor kids in your local community, perhaps by starting your own tutoring business. Tutoring is a great way to give back to others while showcasing your knowledge and strengths to an admissions officer.
Politics can be a divisive force, but participating in a campaign you believe in whether at the national level or local, can definitely help you stand out from other applicants. Hence, if there’s a candidate that you admire, even if that candidate is only running for a small-town seat, consider lending your energy and efforts to his or her campaign. Young adults are notorious for being politically apathetic; thus, your involvement in the political process will make you stand out for sure.
Start a Blog or Write a Book
You might be saying to yourself, it’s only one summer --that’s not nearly enough time to write a book or start a blog. However, keep in mind that great works of literature have been written in a matter of days. And with the ability to self-publish with just a click of a button, you no longer have to wait for the likes of Simon and Schuster to notice you.
Furthermore, what you write actually doesn’t have to be a great piece a literature. It can be a book that tells your story. It can be a work of fiction or a non-fiction piece. It can be humorous or thought-provoking.
Likewise, if you decide to start a blog, it doesn’t have to be a perfectly written series of posts that covers some obscure topic. It doesn’t have to be serious and stuffy. Have fun with it. Be a little vulnerable. Write about a subject you care about and the admissions officers will see your passion and as a result, see you.