Summer Can Make or Break an Application (yes, I know its October)

It takes more than good grades and test scores to get into top colleges these days. The extremely rejective schools and even the selective schools are looking for you to have participated in activities, classes, clubs and programs that help you develop your academic interests. Summer is a great time to do this. While most teens do need to work (and should to build those important soft skills), taking a week or two for a summer or pre-college program can be a way to learn more about your interests, experience a mini version of college life, meet new people and have fun with a topic you enjoy. The reason I’m bringing it up while you are still shopping for Halloween candy is because some programs have already opened their applications.

For my fellow Hoosiers who follow this blog, the Lilly Endowment Inc generously awarded several Indiana colleges with grants to start new youth summer programs. While many colleges are still planning these programs, others are scaling up existing programs. The 27 colleges on this list received funds so keep an eye on their webpages or social media for announcements about summer programs for middle and high schools around everything from the liberal arts, to STEM to sports industries (not athletic camps but learning about sports as a business). Some will be free, others will be discounted and some will charge tuition.

Nationally, there are many great programs, both in-person and virtual. And they range on topics from helping you explore your interest in medicine, to studying marine life off islands in Maine. You can learn creative writing, battle social justice issues, act, studying engineering and more. The people at Teenlife have done a great job curiating lists. I often start on this site, type the subject area into the search box and find a great list of programs. Summer Discovery is another company that offers a wide variety of programs all across the country. You can also find programs on most campuses. Some programs are “pay to play” you just register, pay the fee and go. Others are more competitive and involve an application like the very selective Research Science Institute held each summer at MIT or Yale Global Scholars . LaunchX has a program for students looking to solve business programs for real companies. FIT, Parsons and SCAD all have some amazing programs in fashion. If you like politics consider appying for the Boys’ or Girls’ state programs through the American Legion (your social studies teacher can connect you).

If you are looking for an opportunity to do mentored research with a faculty member, Lumiere Education has programs to help you connect to a network of faculty. Shadowing a professional is another great summer experience. Reach out to your friends and family to ask if you can spend a few days on the job with them to see what they do (be polite and stay off your phone while there).

Doing one of these programs does not gurantee you will get into college. But it will show a college you were interested enough in a subject to take some time out of your busy schedule to go more deeply on the topic.

If you need help finding summer programs that might be right for your child, we are happy to help. Contact Coffman Consulting to schedule a meeting to discuss summer and next year’s classes.

Published by Kate Coffman

Kate has worked in admissions, financial aid, college and career readiness for over twenty years. She most recently served as the Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Franklin College. Kate has also worked in admissions at Butler University and Indiana University. Kate has presented at numerous schools and conferences helping families, educators and those who work with youth understand how to be college and career ready, how to apply to college and how to afford their education.

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