Hot Fun in the Summertime — Or What To Do about Summer

Take a deep breath. Ahhhh. Can’t you just feel that summer air approaching? Smelling the ocean breezes and mountain wildflowers. Watching little kids jump through front yard sprinklers. Sipping sweet cold drinks as we build elaborate sandcastles. Taking late-night walks to see brilliant sunsets. Hearing the crack of a bat hitting a baseball.

No more homework. No early morning alarm clocks. No essay stress. No dinner table interrogations about college. No college forms to fill out….

Wait. What? A college admissions consultant talking about enjoying the sights and sounds of summer and leaving behind the college admissions drama?

YES. That’s exactly what I’m saying. It’s important to take some time in the summer and recharge your batteries. Allow yourselves time to unwind and relax. College admissions can wait just a little while. Unbelievable, right?

Bring back summer

Check out what William Fitzsimmons, Dean of Harvard Admissions, has to say about summer: “Bring summer back. Summer need not be totally consumed by highly structured programs, such as summer schools, travel programs, or athletic camps. While such activities can be wonderful in many ways, they can also add to stress by assembling “super peers” who set nearly impossible standards. Activities in which one can develop at one’s own pace can be much more pleasant and helpful. An old-fashioned summer job that provides a contrast to the school year or allows students to meet others of differing backgrounds, ages, and life experiences is often invaluable in providing psychological downtime and a window on future possibilities. Students need ample free time to reflect, to recreate (i.e. to “re-create” themselves without the driving pressure to achieve as an influence), and to gather strength for the school year ahead.”

Believe me. I know you might feel overwhelmed by everything you think you need to do for college admissions and feel like you need to get started ASAP, but I ask you to recognize that summers can be an important time for personal growth; they are a time when the sixteen-to-eighteen-year-old brain is developing and growing into the future college student brain. And part of that process is to let go of some of the college admissions drama, so you can relax and then begin that transformation.

So, what to do? What to do? Summers are important, but there’s no magical formula for what you need to do to get into any college — even the most highly selective ones. When it comes to your summer, please, please, please do something outside of school. Summer school is fine, sure, especially if you need it to graduate with all your credits, but try also to find something non-school related to do that gets you out of the house. Even if it’s just going to the gym, or, taking long walks and listening to your favorite music.

If you still feel like you need to do more with your extracurriculars, this summer is your opportunity. There are things you can do right now to get started. Explore the wonderful world around you. It’s never too late to start something new in your life.

You have time

Don’t panic if your summer isn’t yet planned. If you’ve already got a summer internship or program abroad, that’s fabulous, but if you’re just now getting into the summer groove, you still have plenty of time to find something productive and engaging to do.

Advice for Rising Senior Summer

I encourage all my rising seniors to get a paying job and pursue a personal project — something they’ve always had an interest in, but might not have had time to spend on it because of the many other obligations of school and extracurriculars.

Here are a few more suggestions for the best approaches to college admissions prep during the summer:

  1. Take time off: Take some time — at least a week or two, if not more — to be completely switched off from school and all school-like activities (this includes form filling and essay writing…).

College Application Planning

When you’re ready after taking a little break, spend a little time thinking about and planning for college admissions. Think of this as your time for College Applications Readiness. Maybe take a college trip if there are colleges near you that allow visitors. Do some virtual tours and info sessions. Research colleges on and my website, and come up with a preliminary college list. Spend a few hours reading through the common app. Start filling out those basic forms — everything rolls over besides the college specific stuff — don’t do that until after August. Brainstorm some ideas for those college essays. Float the idea of writing a personal statement. Or two. I have a long list of questions you can ask yourself to get started included in that post (also above).



College Admissions Consultant. Mindfulness in College Admissions. Author: Hey AdmissionsMom: Real Talk from Reddit.

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College Admissions Consultant. Mindfulness in College Admissions. Author: Hey AdmissionsMom: Real Talk from Reddit.