Is your teen dreaming of their big, fat acceptance letter? You know “the one”…from the school that lights them up. The one that lines up perfectly with their next set of goals. If so, then it’s time to help your teen stand out.

How? Encourage your teen to use their summer for personal development. 

A wide open calendar is the perfect time to develop a skill, take a calculated risk, and round out who they are as a person. Not only will they craft a stronger application, but they’ll grow personally and develop their long-term dreams…which is the biggest prize of all!

As your teen makes their summer plan from the activities below, remind them that intention matters. Ask them to choose activities based on their passion with the strongest opportunities for growth.

One final tip for making the summer work for your teen – ask them to keep a journal. When they document their “story” as it happens, they capture colorful details and in-the-moment emotions. Those are game-changers when writing applications and articulating thoughts in an interview.

6 Smart Summer Activities that Get your College Application Noticed
This is written directly to your teen

Volunteering expands horizons and fosters meaningful relationships.

  • Beginner: Volunteer at a local animal shelter, hospital, festival, or library.
  • Intermediate: Ask the school principal if there’s anything you can do to support the school over the summer, like paint a classroom or garden.
  • Advanced: Start your own charity project. It can be small, like collecting gently used clothing from neighbors to donate to your local Goodwill, or more involved, like putting together a charity run.

Get a Job
Getting (and keeping) a job shows dedication and responsibility. The paycheck is an added bonus! Grocery stores, movie theatres, city park and recreation departments, museums, and camps are great options.

Start a Business
Teenage entrepreneurship shows leadership, ingenuity, and the ability to take risks. Utilize your strengths and talents. Are you great with children? Start a babysitting business. Are you talented artistically? Start your own small business and sell your art on Etsy. The possibilities are endless!

Take a Class or Attend a Summer College Course
Furthering your education outside of school impresses colleges and helps you earn college credits ahead of time. (Yes, there are summer college courses available to high school students.) Try to stick to general education classes (English, Math, Science), which are more likely to transfer to college.

If you want to develop a specific skill that relates to your potential college major, search Google for that skill with the keywords “pre-college course.” For instance, I found this Engineering Design Lab at Tufts that a potential robotics student would love.

A cost-effective option (that shows discipline and dedication) is to create your own learning program at home. You can use books and online learning sites (such as Khan Academy, Udacity, Alison, Open University, and Coursera). Shop around – even for libraries! Some have maker spaces and podcast studios.

Make college connections
Many college admissions offices stay open during the summers. Make an appointment to speak with someone during this slow period. Believe it or not, they actually keep track of who they connect with. Your genuine interest builds a relationship and a positive impression. Make sure to follow up with a thank you email or handwritten note.

Create an impressive online presence
Build an online home for your accomplishments, strengths and talents. Whether it’s a Web site or LInkedIn profile it’s your chance to paint a picture beyond transcripts or test scores. It’s also a good idea to spend time cleaning up your social media accounts. Be sure to delete any pictures or posts that could look unfavorable to an admissions officer.

That said, now go and have fun!

If your teen needs help with academics, managing high school pressure, or charting their future, sign up for a free strategy session with me.  We’ll talk through your challenges and figure out smart next steps — maybe even identify a quick win. I also offer one-to-one coaching and a group program in the fall.

Wishing you and your teen success,