For high school students around the world, summer break is fast approaching — meaning you’ll have a lot more free time to explore your interests and participate in activities you may not typically be able to balance alongside your schoolwork. For those with ambitions of applying to university in the next few years — and especially students aiming for top US and UK universities — there’s no better time to get involved in activities that will help you nurture your passions and demonstrate your dedication to admissions officers later on.
The best college applicants have great test scores, excellent grades and well-rounded extracurriculars; but that’s not all. The admissions landscape is ever-evolving and as universities receive more applications every year, the baseline requirements to get accepted have changed. Now, top universities look for much more — especially when it comes to extracurriculars. Today’s admissions officers want to see proof of tremendous ambition and initiative, illustrated by a cohesive personal narrative.
So how can you build that allstar profile? By utilizing your free time to dive deeper into your genuine interests. For high school students looking for ways to build their college candidacy during their summer down time, the possibilities are endless. Here are three ways you can make the most of your time off from school in the coming months.
For lots of students, a break from school means a break from academics entirely — and that’s okay! There’s value in letting your brain take a rest from math problems and assigned reading. One way to spend your time away from school (and away from academics) this summer is to volunteer.
Volunteering allows you to give back to your community in a meaningful way, which reflects positively on your character and your contributions to the world around you. Volunteer opportunities typically exist in abundance; meaning you’ll have different options to choose from based on time commitment, the skills you wish to build, the communities you want to help, and the type of work you want to do.
If you’re an aspiring English Literature student, you could volunteer at your local public library; if you’re a future Med student, you could volunteer at a hospital or clinic nearby; if you plan to study Engineering, you could volunteer with a coding nonprofit like Girls Who Code. And if you have no idea what you’ll study in college, you can still volunteer! You’ll gain valuable skills that will boost your uni applications, as well as an experience you may end up writing about in your essays or talking about in an interview down the road. Any way you look at it, volunteering is a worthwhile use of your time during a school break.
If you’re not the type of student that’s begging for an escape from academics during your summer break, lean into that! While top universities do look at much more than your grades, academics are still the foundation of your college application and often serve as an early ‘cutting factor’ for admissions officers to decide which students to admit.
School breaks are the perfect time to take classes that aren’t available at your high school or don’t fit into your school schedule. One way to enroll in such classes is online, through accredited providers like Crimson Global Academy. CGA offers Advanced Placement (AP) and A-Level courses, which top universities will look for on your high school transcript. They also offer much more variety than what many high schools do, meaning you can explore subjects that genuinely interest you!
AP and A-Level courses are designed to demonstrate a student’s academic potential and prepare you for college-level coursework. They’re an excellent reflection of your dedication to learning (which is particularly important to UK universities) and in the summer, taking just one or two classes is much more manageable than taking a full schedule of classes during the school year.
If you’re passionate about a specific topic or cause, but opportunities to nurture that passion are scarce, make the opportunity for yourself! Whether you want to dive into a research project, write an article or paper (or a book!), build an app, start a podcast, launch a charitable initiative, or any number of other projects — with the right tools and enough ambition, anything is possible.
Start by thinking about a problem you wish to solve or a question you wish to answer. Then, do some research about existing opportunities or organizations addressing that problem or question. Perhaps you’ll find one you want to volunteer or collaborate with — or perhaps you’ll identify a niche you can fill with your own passion project!
If you know you want to execute a project this summer, but aren’t sure where to start, Crimson can help. Students interested in completing a research paper or project can check out the Crimson Research Institute, which links qualified students with PhDs and top university faculty to execute their own project. For students hoping to pursue other extracurricular activities, Crimson’s Extracurricular Mentoring can provide the expert guidance you need to make it happen!
No matter where your interests lie, there are countless opportunities to explore them in a meaningful way that will show college admissions officers that you’re ambitious and eager to learn. Your summer break will be as enriching and exciting as you make it — so don’t miss your opportunity to use your free time wisely!
If you’re curious about opportunities available to you this summer or need help understanding the best way to make use of your school break, click the link below to schedule a free one-on-one chat with one of our expert academic advisors, who can help you map out the best route to your dream school — from academics to extracurriculars and everything in between.