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Which Summer Activities Do Colleges Like?

11/05/202311 minute read
Which Summer Activities Do Colleges Like?

With all the free time that comes with summer break, summer is a crucial time for high school students to engage in extracurricular activities. Choosing the right activities is important not only to foster personal growth, but to also make your college applications stand out. In this blog, we’ll explore which summer activities colleges like and how to get involved in them.


Colleges and universities value well-rounded individuals who demonstrate a passion for learning, leadership, and community engagement, and extracurriculars are a great way of showing these qualities.

During the summer break, you have the opportunity to make the most of your free time to explore a variety of summer extracurricular activities that can make a positive impact on your college applications while also providing valuable experiences for your personal development.

Best Summer Extracurricular Activities 

1. Summer Camps

Summer camps are a popular choice for high schoolers looking for exciting summer extracurricular activities. 

There are camps available for a wide range of interests, including sports, arts, science, technology, and more. Whether you opt for a day camp or an overnight camp, you'll have the chance to learn new skills, engage in team-building activities, and create lasting bonds with fellow campers. 

Colleges generally like students who participate in summer camps, and they recognize the benefits that such experiences can offer to students based on several factors: 

  • Colleges appreciate summer camps that align with a student's academic or personal interests
  • If a student actively participates, takes on leadership roles, or achieves notable accomplishments within the camp setting, it can enhance their application by showcasing qualities such as initiative, teamwork, and perseverance. 
  • Colleges are interested in applicants who have shown personal growth through their experiences. Summer camps can help students demonstrate maturity, adaptability, and a willingness to step outside their comfort zone.

2. Enrichment Programs or Pre-College Courses

Many colleges and universities offer summer enrichment programs or pre-college courses designed for high school students. These programs provide the opportunity to experience college life, explore academic interests, and gain exposure to various fields of study.

There are several online enrichment programs and pre-college courses that would look great on college applications:

  • Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies: Stanford University offers a variety of online courses through their Pre-Collegiate Studies program. These courses cover subjects such as humanities, math, science, and creative writing.
  • Harvard Pre-College Program: Harvard University offers online pre-college courses that allow high school students to explore various subjects and earn college credits. The program offers a wide range of courses in fields like computer science, law, psychology, and more.
  • MIT Online Science, Technology, and Engineering Courses: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) provides online courses specifically focused on science, technology, and engineering. These courses offer rigorous content and hands-on learning experiences, allowing students to delve deeper into STEM subjects and showcase their passion for these fields.

Participating in these programs showcases your intellectual curiosity, willingness to challenge yourself, and readiness for higher education. Research programs at universities that interest you and apply early, as these programs can be highly competitive.

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3. Personal Passion Projects

Use the summer as an opportunity to pursue a personal passion or embark on a leadership project. Whether it's writing a book, starting a blog, or creating art, a passion project allows you to channel your energy into something you love.

Top colleges value students who develop and pursue personal passion projects because it shows them that you’re proactive, self-driven, and motivated to explore their interests beyond the classroom. It also shows colleges that you’re willing to explore complex ideas, conduct research, and engage in critical thinking outside of their formal academic pursuits.

Set goals, create a timeline, and dedicate focused time to work on your project. Summer provides the freedom and space to explore your creative side and bring your ideas to life.

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4. Internships and Research Opportunities

Engaging in internships or research projects during the summer demonstrates your dedication to exploring career interests and gaining real-world experience. Seek out internships in fields that align with your academic or career goals. Many organizations offer summer internship programs specifically for high school students.

Additionally, reach out to local universities or research institutions to inquire about research opportunities in areas of your interest. These experiences not only provide valuable learning experiences but also demonstrate your initiative and passion for academic exploration.

Explore internship opportunities on Crimson Careers to supercharge your career in high school!

5. Community Service

Volunteer work showcases your commitment to your community and demonstrates a sense of civic responsibility. It highlights your willingness to dedicate your time and effort to making a positive impact on the lives of others.

Colleges appreciate applicants who show concern for the well-being of others and who actively seek opportunities to contribute to society.

Research local nonprofit organizations, community centers, or initiatives that align with causes you care about. Volunteer at a food bank, help organize a charity event, or participate in environmental clean-up efforts. Volunteering not only benefits others but also allows you to develop a sense of empathy, compassion, and social responsibility.

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How to get involved in summer extracurriculars

Finding all the available options is important when it comes to choosing the right extracurricular activity for you. Here are the first three steps you should take to help narrow things down:

1. Identify your Interests and Goals

Start by reflecting on your interests, passions, and goals. What activities excite you? What skills do you want to develop or explore further? Consider your academic pursuits, hobbies, and long-term aspirations.

By identifying your areas of interest, you can narrow down the extracurricular activities that align with your passions and goals.

2. Research and Explore Opportunities

Once you have a clear understanding of your interests, start researching and exploring available opportunities. Look for local community organizations, clubs, non-profit groups, or summer programs that offer activities related to your interests.

Check with your school, local community centers, or online platforms for summer programs such as Crimson ECL, volunteer opportunities, internships, or sports leagues. Consider reaching out to professionals or mentors in your chosen field to seek advice and guidance on potential opportunities.

3. Take Initiative and Plan Ahead

Getting involved in summer extracurricular activities requires proactive planning and organization. Once you have identified the activities or programs that interest you, take the initiative to apply or enroll early.

Some programs and internships have limited spots and early applications can increase your chances of securing a position. Create a schedule or timeline for your summer activities, ensuring that you have a balance between your commitments and allowing yourself time for rest and relaxation.

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Final Thoughts

By participating in summer extracurriculars, you can showcase your initiative, intellectual curiosity, leadership skills, and commitment to making a positive impact. Because extracurriculars are so important, it’s crucial you build the perfect extracurricular profile.

Working with expert strategists at Crimson can increase your chances of acceptance by up to 7x with the help of a team that tackles every aspect of the application process, including extracurriculars.

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