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10 Summer Activities That Look Good on College Applications

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10 Summer Activities That Look Good on College Applications

Does your child plan to catch some rays and chill in flip-flops this summer?

While summer vacation offers a great respite from school, the activities your child chooses to participate in can actually help with college admissions. How an applicant spends his or her time during break can tell admission officers a lot about your child.

Here are ten fun activities to help keep your child busy this summer that’ll guarantee a fun and productive break.

1. Start a blog

There are many popular sites that make blogging easy, such as WordPress, Tumblr, Blogspot and Xanga. Before starting a blog, your child should think of a theme for posts. A themed blog will target a specific audience, while a general blog might have more widespread appeal. Writing impresses admissions officers – it shows creativity and independence of thought, but it’s also interactive and fun.

Ready to do it? Watch this simple video tutorial.

2. Go backpacking

Get trekking! Backpacking is an exhilarating experience which will show college admissions counselors that an applicant is active and in touch with the environment. Your child also will come across as independent, not to mention it’ll keep him or her in shape this summer.

Ready to do it? Check out this sampling of programs.

3. Create a website

Creating a website teaches your budding programmer how to use HTML, the backbone to web design language. Domain names usually cost around $15 per year, but there are also free hosting sites. Your son or daughter might even make a bit of spending money!

Ready to do it? Check out free web hosting like Bravenet. Then, check out cheap books on Amazon and learn SEO basics.

4. Volunteer

Volunteering time to a worthy cause is not only impressive to admissions officers, but also can be one of the most rewarding activities this summer. Your child can choose an organization or cause he or she is genuinely interested in.

Ready to do it? Check out TeenLife’s volunteer section to discover the perfect experience.

5. Learn a new language

Learning a second language promotes educational development, enhances communication and thinking abilities and allows students to fully understand and appreciate their world. Learning another language will add a golden star to college applications.

Ready to do it? Start with these CDs to habla español.

6. Recycle

Recycling benefits both the economy and environment. Students can do a little research to find out the steps their town takes to go green, and to find out if there is a recycling plant nearby. They can even get paid to recycle! Your child should record how much money he makes or how many hours he spent recycling to include it in college applications.

Ready to do it? Watch this fun video about how to get paid to recycle.

7. Make a movie

Lights, camera, action! Making a movie can be a lot simpler than it sounds. Your child can film a whole movie around your hometown – all on a budget. Directing a movie impresses admissions officers because it shows initiative, creativity and leadership. Your son or daughter can write a script, direct a cast and edit the movie together into a cohesive story.

Ready to do it? This book is written specifically for high school students.

8. Find a pen pal

A pen pal can exposes high school students to different cultures, while interacting with a pen pal hones reading and writing skills – and it’s a whole lot more fun than writing an essay for class. This can lead to a very cool college essay!

Ready to do it? Find the perfect pen pal safely and securely here.

9. Read at the public library

If your child loves to read, get a public library card and use it often. The public library is a free resource, and being well-read makes him or her a more interesting, in-depth candidate when applying to college. Applicants should even include “reading for pleasure” as one of their summer activities.

Ready to do it? Get to your local library.

10. Start a collection

Perhaps your child can start a unique collection, from stamps from Greece to coins from Guatemala. He or she can do a little research on the item if it’s not obvious where to get it, and keep an eye out for local shows and events to display the collection.

Ready to do it? Read this quick step-by-step guide to help start a collection this summer.

Your child should make the most of summer – some activities might lead to lifelong passions or even academic majors!


Stephen Friedfeld, PhD, is the COO of AcceptU, a college admissions counseling group that connects applicants with former admissions officers. He has 10+ years of admissions experience at Cornell University and Princeton University.

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