What will you do this summer to have experiences that are both meaningful and impress colleges on your applications? Looking for free and low-cost solutions? Now is the time to start planning.

As the parent of a current senior who currently has a lot of college acceptances and scholarships to choose from (and waiting on a few more decisions), I can confidently say her summer experiences made a difference. My daughter was often too busy to do much volunteer service during the school year, so summer was always a good time to plan service projects. Additionally, she had the chance to explore her prospective majors (psychology and neuroscience) through different enrichment opportunities over the summer. All of these things made her a better more informed applicant and gave her plenty to write about in all those supplemental essays.

I know it seems super early, but the truth is that many of these opportunities have application deadlines mid-semester. I don’t want you to miss out just because you put off planning.

Here are the 5 types of experiences I suggest students and parents consider:

  • Subject-specific camps at colleges and universities
  • Hands on work in the field of study that interests the student most
  • “Big” volunteer experiences that meet or exceed 40 hours a week
  • World travel through organizations like your local rotary club or the state department
  • Full-time jobs that actually clock 40 hours per week

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