As friends reconvene at school after the summer break, they tell stories of life-changing experiences with a family in Nicaragua, of interning with the next big startup company, or of working their dream job. As you sit and listen, you realize that you have wasted the most important summer break of your life staying at home and watching Netflix until one in the morning. With college applications coming up, you wonder what you can write about and how you will come across as a unique student whom someone would want at their university. Then it hits you again; you wanted to “decompress” from the tension and stress of school, while everyone else pursued their passion on a level you could not even imagine.
Make no mistake, “summer activities” does not connote partying every other night or spending time with friends. Instead, the summer before senior year is an opportunity to differentiate yourself as a unique person, and not as a mindless robot who made the trek from his bed to his couch every day of the week for the past two months. When colleges read an application, they want a student’s passion to come across on the pages of their resume and in their writing. Students cannot expect to show true passion for a certain major if they have no physical way to prove it, and cannot dream of showing work ethic and dedication without taking on a demanding job or responsibility.
While GPA and extracurriculars may show a college what you have to offer to their school academically, admissions officers want passionate individuals, not human calculators who completed calculus their sophomore year. Thousands of students have exactly the same grades and passions as you, so simply spraying out general applications and hoping for the best is not the most effective strategy. Instead, take advantage of the time you are allotted after your junior year to take a deep breath, and then go out into the real world to show your dedication to your passion.
Sure, in a perfect world students would not need to go out of their way to prove creativity and explore what they are passionate about, but as competition for the top colleges only gets tougher, students need to squeeze every last bit they can out of their summer.
If you still choose to remain naive, and want to miss out on once in a lifetime opportunities by avoiding activities during summer break, then fine. Just know that hundreds of students and I will be right behind you with our resumes and applications to take your spot in college.
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