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importance of summer activities

stone_cutterstone_cutter 702 replies81 threads Member
edited January 2008 in College Admissions
Do colleges really care if you had any summer activities, such as internships? Can summer activities be the deciding factor between you getting accepted/declined? How important is it to have summer activities on your application?
edited January 2008
12 replies
Post edited by stone_cutter on
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Replies to: importance of summer activities

  • rodneyrodney 9267 replies139 threads Senior Member
    Oh boy, this should open up alot of discussion....I used to think it mattered, I don't anymore...It's important that you do SOMETHING, but IMO it doesn't really matter what that something is....I know that many on this thread will disagree, but I've seen tons of my d's peers get accepted to many top 20 schools after spending their summers at sleepaway camp....Personally, I have encouraged her to do whatever she wants...It is summer, after all.

    Now....You can all attack me and tell me I'm wrong.......
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  • curlygirl61curlygirl61 181 replies25 threads Junior Member
    I don't think it matters what, although having a summer job is becoming less and less common and personally, I think it looks better and is more helpful then going on some "cushy -volunteer-type" thing that you pay 10 grand to do.

    Colleges want people who are genuine. If you genuinely need to earn money because your family is not high income or whatever, then I would say that looks great. And having a job shows many other qualities like responsibility, getting along with co-workers, bosses etc and commitment. Summer jobs can also provide opportunity for essay topics.

    Summer jobs, plus sports from your school all help to show the person. The bottom line is, do somethig because "it's in you" not because it's what you think or perceive the college wants and everything will work out.
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  • smiles1011smiles1011 92 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Personally, I don't think I would have gotten into the college that I did if it weren't for my summer activities, but if someone has equally significant activities that are not necessarily during the summer, it's not all that important WHEN these things occur.

    But it is nice to show them you did SOMETHING over the summer.
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  • NewEngSocSciManNewEngSocSciMan 762 replies28 threads Member
    Work is strong, as are legitimate volunteer gigs where you DO NOT PAY. If you pay, it counts quite, quite little.

    One of the best things for rich kids is to have a job, it looks strong (character wise, I'll bet).
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  • stone_cutterstone_cutter 702 replies81 threads Member
    What summer activity would colleges like more? Volunteer work or an internship?
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  • riverrunnerriverrunner 2663 replies52 threads Senior Member
    I asked this question of my nephew who was a student at Harvard at the time. He suggest my D make a significant volunteer commitment to an area of real concern to her, rather than attend a selective school's summer session. (she'd done one after soph year, so had that under her belt.) She also didn't "need" to work.

    This turned out to be excellent advice. She made a real contribution, and had to connect with a population she doesn't usually interact with (tourists at a historic site :)) She also had to become knowledgable on a topic she was already somewhat interested in. One of her essays drew heavily on this experience.

    Other than this position, most of her summer activities were pretty run-of-the-mill: sports camps, other less meaningful volunteer gigs, travel, paid volunteerism, selective school's summer camps.

    Look for an activity where you can truly explore an area of interest to you. Whether it's paid, volunteer or packaged education doesn't really matter.
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  • FresnoMomFresnoMom 1015 replies29 threads Senior Member
    My kids work on the family farm all summer. It didn't hurt and perhaps helped with college admissions (oldest got into UCB, his dream school, and the younger one was just accepted at Stanford EA).

    Don't look at it from the angle of "what do colleges want?" Look at it as "I have a chance to do something wonderful...what do I want to do?"
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  • NewEngSocSciManNewEngSocSciMan 762 replies28 threads Member
    The big thing NOT to do is paid volunteering, and even worse than doing it is writing an essay about it.

    It reeks of wealth, as one counselor said.
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  • stone_cutterstone_cutter 702 replies81 threads Member
    Is there any reason to participate in a summer activity other than writing a college essay about it?
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  • rodneyrodney 9267 replies139 threads Senior Member
    How about because you love to do it??????

    curlygirl said it best: "The bottom line is, do somethig because "it's in you" not because it's what you think or perceive the college wants and everything will work out."
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  • wjbwjb 2843 replies65 threads Senior Member
    My son went to plain vanilla summer camp for years. Before each summer once he hit high school, I tried to encourage him to do something "serious" instead. I confess that, in addition to personal enrichment, I had college admissions in mind. Although he pursues his academics and his EC interests with intensity during the school year, he resisted my suggestions. He wanted to spend the summers at the camp he loves with friends he loves, and that is what he did. (Full disclosure: Last summer he did participate in a relatively brief but highly selective program in one of his areas of interest after camp.)

    Camp was even the subject of one of his college essays, and he got into his SCEA school. The relative lack of "important" summer pursuits definitely did not torpedo his application. So I now believe that you don’t absolutely have to spend your summers engaged in "serious” pursuits in order to be accepted to highly selective schools. (I am not, BTW, bashing such pursuits. I think they’re a fantastic idea for the student who is motivated to do them.)
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  • curlygirl61curlygirl61 181 replies25 threads Junior Member
    Honestly, I don't believe how many students on this site do not have to work in the summer. I guess it proves the old demographic argument that the higher income people have high sat's etc, since the average sat's are so high on this site. Clearly this site is populated by way upper income.

    That being said, my son loves his summer job. He works with his peers in a fast paced environment and has learned alot. Most of his co-workers are not from the town we live in, so that is an added bonus as he met new people. Most were older and already in college, so it gave him a taste of what was ahead and they are a very diverse group. Jockks, goth, lesbians. The whole thing is a great experience. Jobs and work experience allow you to get out of your comfort zone. I have spoken with many admissions people who love the fact that a kid scooped ice cream all summer or was a fry cook and washed dishes like my son did. Frankly, in this day and age, having a summer job actually sets you apart from the rest of the crowd.
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