When it comes to deciding what to do for your summer activities, it can be hard to make sense of what matters to colleges and what doesn’t. Given the wide range of options, what are the best things to do? How should students prioritize? And when is the right time to get started?
Some programs have bumper-sticker names and the price tag to match. While it seems simple and logical that big-name programs are correlated with competitive positioning in the college admissions process, that’s not really how it works. There are a few exceptions to the rule, of course; a handful of summer programs (very few!) that by name alone will turn an admissions officer’s head. But even those special opportunities are not likely to make or break your application on their own.
Colleges want to see students use their time to explore interests, expand depth of understanding or exposure to a subject, or further develop a concentration or talent.