High school graduates-to-be beware:
Summers are no longer for wasting your time away
It certainly is not what it used to be…
Something different is happening in the college admission scene: the competition is expanding, allowing colleges to become much more choosy than ever before! With the internet allowing students to apply to more colleges, easier, cheaper, and faster, and the children of baby boomers now graduating high school, the number of applications to college has shot up dramatically. Add to that that the more selective colleges, anticipating future fluctuations in U.S. applicants, have already begun aggressively recruiting top candidates from foreign markets like China, Korea, India, and South America to keep the quality of their applicant pools high, and it starts becoming clear that getting into even your match schools, let alone dream school, is an even more difficult task than before, which can spell a lot of frustration for those students who fail to adequately prepare and build a desirable admissions profile.
Now, this does not mean you should give up on that college dream, but it does mean that students with a serious college outlook can no longer afford to spend their summer’s unproductively. Many colleges and universities today are not just interested in students with just good grades and strong standardized test scores but want students that enrich their campus environments as well. And though Archimedean’s one-of-a-kind curriculum does an outstanding job of helping students stand out from the generic high school curricula followed by so many, colleges are also looking for students with a track record of passionately pursuing those activities that expand talents, cultivate leadership skills, open minds, and enrich lives.
Participating in exclusive summer programs, getting an insightful job or internship, conducting college-level research, participating in an intensive community service project are all great ways to experience life on a college campus, explore new interests, travel, explore career fields, develop talents, learn new languages, help others, earn college credit, judge college campus environments, make new friendships and more while building quite an impressive academic profile.
The more exclusive, challenging, and competitive the summer experience, the better it will enhance your application profile and increase your chances of getting into a competitive college or perhaps getting a hold of more financial aid, much-needed assistance with the costs of college today soaring higher than ever before.
Don’t forget too that completing a community service volunteer project is required for graduation in Miami-Dade County and a minimum of 75 hours of volunteer work is necessary to qualify for Florida Bright Future Scholarships and other distinctions.
When should you start making plans?
Ideally, you need to research early in the school year and, if possible, apply in late fall and early winter since some applications are due as soon as December. Other options fill their openings on a rolling basis, so waiting until the final deadline to submit applications may mean that all opening has been filled before they even find out about your interest in attending. Remember too that many will require official transcripts, letters of recommendation, or essays, which could take several weeks to prepare. Starting on your applications as soon as possible is always your best choice of action!
How do you secure a great summer experience?
As a student, you should be extremely proactive when planning YOUR summer. After all, this is one of those rare opportunities to truly show off to colleges how much independence, drive, and initiative you posses and what your personal interests and passions really are. Opportunities abound, but it is your job to search them out, ready applications properly, and submit materials in time to meet all deadlines. Succeeding will require your dedication and time.
People and places that can be contacted for a volunteer, internship, work, study, travel, or research opportunities include:
- Researchers and professors at local universities, colleges, and institutes
- College websites that list high school student summer opportunities offered
- Local public libraries
- Non-for-profit organizations, government facilities, and businesses of all types such as community centers, homeless shelters, orphanages, retirement communities, local newspapers, performance arts centers, museums, zoos, hospitals, nursing homes, outreach centers, summer camps, rehabilitation centers, and parks to name a few
- Even family members and friends (REMEMBER THAT YOU CANNOT RECEIVE VOLUNTEER HOURS FOR WORK DONE FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS)
What about the money?
One good reason for getting good grades in high school, taking challenging courses, and earning great teacher recommendation letters is that it allows students to more easily impress those college professors and employers able to offer exclusive internships or college research positions, very impressive activities on your high school resume for sure. Also, many of the most exclusive and highly competitive pre-college programs cover all costs or even pay stipends to students accepted!
The vast majority of pre-college programs, however, do cost money. Students unable to get into free programs should carefully weigh the costs and benefits of attending. Though many programs do offer wonderful experiences, NO FAMILY SHOULD TAKE OUT LOANS OR GO INTO DEBT PAYING FOR SUMMER PROGRAMS!!!
All students in need of financial assistance should explicitly ask program coordinators about potential fee reduction or scholarship and financial aid opportunities (grants NOT loans) available and the procedures students should take to qualify. In general, students seeking financial aid should apply for aid as early in the school year as possible before funds run out. Programs will not always advertise THE TYPES OF FEE REDUCTION options THAT EXIST so ASK THE PROGRAM COORDINATORS DIRECTLY!
If no fee reduction options exist and remaining costs are out of a family’s budget, students should consider other resume enriching activities such as participating in more intense and insightful local community service projects, jobs, research projects, and internships, which are all looked on favorably by college admissions representatives too, in some cases even more than less exclusive pre-college programs!!!!