summer activities for high school students

In last week’s episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, host Ian Fisher and his guests took a look behind the scenes of the admissions offices at College of the Holy Cross and Babson College, discussed what high school students can do in the summer months to bolster their college applications, and provided some advice on how to utilize your savings to pay for college.

Behind the Scenes at Holy Cross and Babson

Ian’s first guest, Kimberly Asselta, worked in the admissions offices at Holy Cross and Babson for five years and seven years respectively. Ian and Kimberly first took on the differences (and surprising similarities) between the institutions, followed by an in-depth discussion of how the admission offices looked for students who “fit” at each of them, using the supplemental essay (for Babson) as well as teacher recommendations. A lot of great information was shared about the unique programs and culture at each of these schools. Kimberly and Ian concluded their conversation with Kimberly’s perspective on athletic recruiting at both the Division I and Division III levels. As the athletic liaison at both Holy Cross and Babson, Kimberly had valuable insights to offer for recruited athletes and their parents.

How to Stay Busy in the Summer Months

Ian’s next guest, Mary Sue Youn, had some advice for high school students wondering how to stay busy (but not too busy—you still get to be a kid!) in the summer. She stressed the importance of using this time to explore a topic or interest you don’t have time for during the regular academic year, and pointed out how summer opportunities can give a student something worthwhile to talk or write about during the college application process. Ian and Mary Sue spent some time chatting about the variety of options that are available, including sleep-away camps, day camps, internships, jobs, and self-created opportunities. Ian also encouraged students to come up with a summer reading list, and Mary Sue reminded students that the summer between the junior and senior year is the most important, so you are prepared to answer the possible college interview question: “What did you do last summer?”

How to Spend Your College Savings

Ian’s last guest was college finance expert Alex Bickford, who tackled the somewhat complex but always useful topic of how to spend college savings. Alex began by discussing “qualified tuition programs” (529 Plans, Prepaid Tuition Plans, and Coverdell ESAs) and their unique tax benefits. He then discussed how, for families who qualify for the American Opportunity Credit, withdrawals should be coordinated to maximize the tax credit. He went on to talk about how liquidating assets might (or might not) impact eligibility for financial aid in future years, and wrapped up with some tips on how to best utilize assets that have been saved by grandparents or other individuals whose information was not provided on the financial aid application. This was a very detail-laden segment that you won’t want to miss if you have money saved up to pay for college.

Don’t forget you can download and subscribe to our podcasts in iTunes. And join us for this week’s episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, when Beth Heaton returns as host to explore the inner workings of the USC Admissions Office, discuss issues for first generation college students, and talk with one of our college finance experts about why you should save for college.

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Written by Kathy Ruby
Kathy Ruby is a member of College Coach’s team of college finance experts. Before joining College Coach, Kathy was as a Senior Financial Aid Officer at St. Olaf College and Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.