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Facebook Live Recap and Bonus Questions: How Students Can Make the Most of Summer Vacation

Summer is a time for fun, but it's also the ideal time for working on your college admissions plans. During my recent Facebook Live Q&A, I talked about some things students can do (and some things students need to do) to make the most of their summer vacation.

In case you missed it, here’s a recap with a list of the questions I answered, the full video of my session, and bonus questions that I didn't get to answer live!

  • When should students start preparing for the SAT or ACT?
  • When should students start working on their college applications?
  • How should a student prepare for a summer interview and campus tour?
  • How do admissions officers view summer programs, especially those offered by highly selective colleges?
  • My son was selected to participate in a fully-funded summer program at a prestigious school. Is this a sign that he will likely be granted admission if everything else in his application is competitive? Will similar schools be impressed that he attended this program or could it hurt him?
  • My daughter is interested in creative writing, but summer programs are very expensive. Are these programs necessary for students to attend?
  • What are some things that students need to do over the summer?
  • My son found a summer job, but it is not related to his possible major. Is this a negative on his applications?
  • How important is it to have a summer job?
  • Is it okay to dabble in a few different things over the summer? How will colleges look at this type of unstructured plan?
  • Is there a difference in how admissions officers view a summer job vs. a paid summer internship?
  • My daughter is interested in applying to a direct admit BSN (nursing) program. She currently volunteers 3 hours weekly at a local hospital. Now that she will have more time in the summer, is there anything more that you recommend she be doing to be competitive in the admissions process?
  • Many corporations only hire colleges students for internships. Would shadowing for a day at different corporations be a good alternative for high school students?
  • My son applied to a few summer internships, but didn't get them. What should he do now?
  • What should an 8th grader do this summer before he starts high school? A 9th grader?
  • How can a student best represent summer experiences on their college applications?
  • What summer experiences should you report on your applications?


1. My daughter got a scholarship to study in University of Salamanca in Spain. Is this a good way to spend the summer?

If it allows her to take a real college class there (for a grade and college credit), that will be highly impressive. If she gets an A in the class, she needs to formally request that a transcript is sent to all the colleges where she plans to apply.

2. What about working toward hiking all the 4,000 ft. mountains in the White Mountains (in NH - there are 46 of them)? Hopefully will be achieved within the year.
LOVE THIS! Yes. When there's a goal in mind, it shifts from a hobby to a pursuit. Thus, making it reportable!

3. Wondering about volunteering. I’ve heard that this activity is not important to some colleges.
Volunteering is technically not required for college admissions, but it is almost expected. A student can volunteer during the school year or during the summer. In my experience, volunteering is valued by the colleges but it tends to not be the reason a student is admitted. So, students should do some volunteer work during high school because it gives them perspective, gives back to the community, and it's the right thing to do. Colleges will want to see it on the student's activities list. But service work by itself is not typically a silver bullet when it comes to college admissions.