How to Spend the Summer After Your Junior Year

It's time to start locking in your plans
February 18, 2020

Summer is coming and it’s time to start locking in your plans. In order to make the most of your summer between 11th and 12th grade, you’ll want to be focused on adding the cherry to the sundae when it comes to your credentials and also getting a head start on the college application process. Also, you should definitely squeeze in some relaxation. Here’s how we suggest you do all that! 

1. Do something that adds to your either your academic or activity credentials in a meaningful and distinctive way.

This is one of the ways you can make your college applications stand out. Don’t let the words “meaningful and distinctive” throw you. You don’t have to cure cancer or travel across the world to do something meaningful and distinctive. You just have to do something that adds to the credentials you’ve been building for the last three years.

Here are some questions that should help you decide what you could do this summer that would be meaningful and distinctive:

  • Do you have an academic passion? If so, look for a summer program that allows you to study your passion at an advanced level. Even better would be a summer program that allows you to do an independent project that you can refer to in your application. For example, if you love science, it would be great if you could do a summer program that includes hands-on science research in addition to classroom study.
  • Are you an athlete with the possibility of being recruited onto a college team or qualifying for national or international competitions? If so, you’re looking for opportunities to show off your skills to college recruiters or compete at the highest levels possible, and for a good training/skill development camp or program.
  • Are you an artist, writer, performer or all-round creative type? If so, the summer is your chance to have a gallery show (your front hall might be the gallery!), write and self-publish a novella, or mount a production. You can do that at a summer camp or seize the initiative and do it on your own. Whatever you do, work on improving your craft and think about documenting your work as you go, because it could give you a great start on a required or optional artistic supplement. 
  • Are you a community service volunteer? If so, use the long days of summer to take your volunteering to the next level by doing something full-time for several weeks in a row. You’ll have new insight into the issue of homelessness if you work at the shelter every day instead of just once a month.
  • Are you someone who has a definite career in mind for yourself that you’d like to explore? If so, then you’ll want to secure an internship (volunteer or paid) that lets you see what people in that career do. 
  • Do you want or need to earn some money this summer? Then start looking for a job now! You might be able to start working part-time right away and then bump up your hours during the summer. And don’t worry that having to work is a mark against you in the admissions process. Nothing could be further from the truth. Admissions officers are always impressed by an applicant who can juggle the demands of the working world with school and activities. The same is true if you have family responsibilities outside of school.


2. Get a head start on college applications.

Taking time during the summer to get a head start on your college applications is the key to a sane fall of your senior year. We’ll have a full list of everything you can get done in a separate post that will come out in the late spring. For now, you just need to be aware that you’ll need time to work on your college applications throughout the summer.

One other heads-up: If you have colleges on your list that offer on-campus interviews during the summer, you’ll want to take advantage of that opportunity if you can. Building those trips into your summer calendar now will keep you from having unresolvable conflicts later.


3. Squeeze in some relaxation.

Junior year is tough and the fall of senior year is jam-packed, so some rest and relaxation is absolutely necessary during the summer. We suggest you schedule time off during the week, enjoy your weekends, and have some true vacation time – a couple of weeks when you do absolutely nothing other than enjoy life.

Anna Ivey is one of the founders of Inline. An experienced admissions consultant and a frequently cited media expert on the topic of college admissions, she is also co-author of the college admissions bible How to Prepare a Standout College Application. Learn more about Anna's background here.

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