My 10th grade son is interested in studying CS which I realize is a very difficult major to get into. Yikes. He is a very standard ‘normal’ kid, he gets straight As, takes a decently rigorous load (for his school) and has standard ECs. We are in a very large competitive Calif public school. He plays a varsity sport (not good enough to be recruited), he is involved with a number of clubs related to CS. But his school doesn’t have olympiad teams or math teams etc so he has never competed. He tutors kids and teaches basic programming. He does USACO programming contest. Thats about it. He hasn’t done research or held internships, and isn’t nationally or even locally recognized in anything. He is still learning about the field of CS. He applied to some research programs for this summer hoping to really dig deeper into some CS area (like AI or machine learning) but was denied. Frankly, it was a long shot as he has no experience in research or these specialized fields and his ‘wanting to learn more’ may have not been compelling to the admissions committee.
Given how many kids are so extremely accomplished at 16 (all these kids with published research and internships with job descriptions my son can’t even comprehend, national science fair and other national awards, etc), how does a normal kid get more experience? He hasn’t been able to find high school internships and doesn’t even know if he’d be qualified to work at a company programming (when he is reading what other high school kids are doing, it is beyond him). He hasn’t had luck reaching out to professors about research (because he honestly doesn’t know what he wants to research, he just would like to learn more, and again, that probably isn’t compelling. And the cold calling method isn’t likely to yield much for results.).
He would like to go to a UC for college. His resume 20 years ago would have gotten him into a UC but today, probably not, especially in CS. I know Jr college is an option to transfer.
What can he do this summer to help expand his knowledge? Get him some experience in CS? Since he didn’t get into any summer program, research position or internship?
So far, he is planning on taking a class in some programming language at community college and maybe some other CS related course on the side without grades (to explore machine learning or something else).
But is there anything else he can do to add to his resume which he feels is pretty empty?
He may do the standard camp counselor job or teach kids coding to make some money but he doesn’t feel that will help him in his CS pursuits (if he tries again next summer for an internship or research, how does he make himself more competitive?).
Beyond summer, what can he be doing to boost his knowledge and chances of being admitted for CS? He’ll be taking 4 APs next year and 2 Honors classes and I don’t know how much time he will have to add new activities but are there other things he can do to help boost his resume?
He isn’t the most ambitious in terms of the type to start a company or invent anything, etc. He is just a very normal kid. I am afraid reading all these extremely accomplished bios in CC has not helped him (looking at the chance me boards seems to cause more anxiety than help when you see how much other teens have achieved). I wish my husband and I were better connected but we aren’t. I know a lot of local teens have gotten internships and research positions through their family connections but we haven’t been able to provide any exposure there. And it is just so competitive.
Seeking advice from all these veteran parents and knowledge students. I am very late in the game as he is my eldest child. I hadn’t realized how crazy college admissions have gotten. My husband and I muse that our son’s resume is as strong as what we did with good grades, clubs, community service, etc and yet we were able to go to a great college albeit MANY years ago. Heck, back then, it was great that we had a paying job at the local fast food chain after school! Things are so different and I just want to help support him somehow (and feeling quite clueless).
If I should be posting this somewhere else, let me know.
Thanks in advance.