Summer is a great time for students to create opportunities for yourself, whether it be leadership, community engagement, athletics or entrepreneurship with a small business. Standing out in the college admissions process means doing things differently than the typical high school student. This is especially important if you have your sights set on a top-tier university. But even if you just want an extra edge for your reach school, unique resumes that demonstrate initiative can mean the difference between a "yes" or a "no" to your dream school. Here are some ideas to get you thinking about how to separate yourself from the pack.
Start a business
The best part of running your own business is the flexible hours! Start your business by 10th grade and watch it grow. You can still make football practice, piano lessons, cheer camp, and all those other important activities that you are already involved in. What kind of business? Think about your passion. Love fishing? Run a fishing camp for neighborhood children, boy scout troops or YMCA day-campers. Tech-saavy? Advertise on NextDoor.com or through your community or school job boards to provide computer support to students or families in your area. Top colleges like to see INITIATIVE. Be an "extrapreneur"...look beyond NHS, Key Club, and Yearbook to show that you are a go-getter with the ambition to make things happen OUTSIDE of school.
Solve a community problem
See something in your community that could use an overhaul? Launch a grass roots movement to change it. Even if you are already involved in NCL or YMSL, it reads much better to college admissions officers when YOU do the leg work and run your own operation. Many students will already show those organizations on their resumes. So do something that sets you apart.
Start by reaching out to community leaders with some solutions and get their support. Recycling, park clean-up, food drives for North Texas food bank, elder meals and transportation, book drives for underserved schools and libraries are just a few ideas. You are not to young to make a big impact. So get out there and start changing the world by changing your neighborhood first!
Learn something new
Learning for learning's sake is important if you're reaching for a selective school. These schools want to see that you are intellectually curious, not just academically competitive. All those AP and IB courses you're taking will show up on transcripts from students just like you, with test scores just as high as yours. Use the summer to add something extra through an online course, or perhaps add an AP course that is not offered at your school. Take another foreign language or participate in a study abroad language immersion program. If you're into music or theatre, take courses through an arts or music conservatory. If you're a scientist, participate in research programs for high school students. Locally, The Hockaday School and Greenhill School both offer excellent summer study options.
Keep in mind that how you spend your time in the summer says a great deal about the type of individual and student you are. Be unique, and use your gifts and passion to make a difference!