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What Your High School Student Should Do This Summer

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In today’s competitive college admissions market, it’s critical to stand out.

A student’s high school resume should communicate to the college that he or she has taken academics seriously and pursued worthwhile activities outside of class. A resume for a high school student is more than a list of academics and achievements; it should turn admissions heads and move them to offer admission.

How can your high school student use summer to boost his or her resume?

One way is to enroll in a pre-college summer program at a college or university. These programs provide high school students an opportunity to pursue subjects that interest them while living and studying in a college environment. Not only will this experience add to academic knowledge, but it will offer the opportunity to explore life on a particular college campus, meet new friends, and interact with faculty.

Pre-college programs vary from STEM, to musical and theater arts, to writing, to architecture, history and more. Whatever your student’s area of interest, there is a pre-college summer program to match it.

Here are some things to think about in choosing a pre-college summer program.

  1. Look for programs that line up with your student’s passions or career interests.

For instance, there are dozens of programs for students interested in in science, technology, engineering and math. These STEM programs range from pre-med to engineering to computer coding. But whether it’s science, art or history, an added benefit is the contact your student will make with the college professor teaching the course. The professor becomes another person to ask for a college recommendation letter.

2. Consider programs that are highly selective and accept a small number of students

There are selective summer programs that will definitely impress college admissions officers. Programs such as the Research Science Institute at MIT, the National Security Language Initiative for Youth and the Indiana University Young Women’s Institute are offered strictly on the basis of merit for free or for a relatively low cost. They would be an impressive addition to any high school resume. But there are plenty of others that connect a select group of like-minded students with high-quality mentors and professors.

3. Attend a program at a college that will be an early decision or early action choice.

Students who are sure about their No. 1 college choice can prove their interest and boost their high school resumes by attending a pre-college program at that school. Colleges look for students who express interest and a summer program is one way to do that. Be careful, however, about choosing a program at a rival college. For instance, if a high school student goes to a summer program at Harvard and applies to Yale, Yale may assume that he or she is more interested in Harvard.

4. Seek opportunities that award credit.

College credit is a sign that a student is ready to take academics seriously. Some colleges offer pre-college summer programs that award college credit; the specifics differ by institution.

Earning credit for a high school summer program is a win-win situation if your family can afford the tuition and your student is willing to invest the time. Credit-earning pre-college programs, however, tend to be selective than non-credit programs. If this is something your high school student wants to consider, it might be worthwhile to concentrate on high school grades first.

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Written by Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer counsels parents and students in the college admissions process and the importance of early college preparation. Her Parents Countdown to College Coach blog offers timely college tips for parents and students, as well as providing parents with the resources necessary to help their college-bound teens navigate the college maze.

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