7 Ways High School Sophomores Can Level Up Their College Applications This Summer

summer map through car window

Summer is the perfect time for experiences that will better prepare you for college and the college admissions process. Hey high school sophomores and juniors—it’s almost summer! Time for fun, sun…and having experiences that can enhance your college search and college applications. While you don’t need to fill your summer with work and learning, you should definitely add a few enriching experiences during these lazy, hazy days. Here are a few options and activities that you can do in summer that can help prepare you for college life, career paths, and college admissions. Bonus Tip: Many of these experiences lend themselves to being great topics for college essays on your college applications.

Summer Job

A summer job is a win-win proposition. Not only will you earn money, but it will also provide an enlightening experience from within the working world. Whether you are babysitting, waiting tables, life guarding, camp counseling, coaching, washing cars, or mowing lawns – you will gain life lessons, maturity, responsibility, leadership skills, and so much more.

In fact, it’s hard to quantify how much you can learn and gain from a summer job. You might find a career path you’d like to follow or one you want to avoid! You could make new friends, learn new skills, and push yourself outside of your comfort zone.

Beyond the fact that paid employment looks great on your college application, stories and lessons from a summer job often make great college essay topics.


An internship can offer you an amazing opportunity to explore a career path up close. While internships for high school students are not as plentiful as those for college students, they still exist. You just have to know where to look and who to ask. A few tips:

  • Reach out to parents and professionals you know.
  • Ask you guidance counselor for help.
  • Search employment sites such as LinkedIn.com or Indeed.com.
  • Search the career section of a company or group of companies in a particular field.


So, you think you might like to be an orthopedist. While it’s unlikely you could get an internship with an orthopedist as a high school student, you could probably shadow an orthopedist for a few days. When you shadow, you don’t necessarily do work as you would in an internship, but you are able to observe “a day in the life” of the professional.

We knew one high school student who was certain she wanted to be a physical therapist. But after 3 days of shadowing a physical therapist, she realized that she would really hate touching people’s feet! Shadowing literally changed the direction of her college and career plans. Today, she is a successful public relations executive.

If you have an intense interest in a particular career – reach out to someone in the field and ask if you can shadow them for a few days. You’ll be surprised how open most people are to this request…and how much you’ll learn from the experience!

Summer Pre-College Programs

Many colleges offer summer programs that allow you to immerse yourself in a field of study while getting a sample size of college life. There are programs around the world for everything from robotics to astrophysics, medicine to creative writing, archeology to art history, and so much more.

Programs typically last 2 weeks or more and provide an opportunity to live and study on a college campus. While these programs are not inexpensive, they offer unparalleled access to college-level academics, professors, and research opportunities.

Community Service

To put it simply – community service is enriching. While community service is an unselfish endeavor, you’ll be surprised to see how much YOU gain from the process. In addition to looking great on your college applications and providing great material for college essays, community service can provide you with new skills, renewed perspective, new career ideas, and enhanced self-esteem.

To find community service opportunities, reach out to your guidance counselor, local food banks, animal shelters, places of worship, senior centers, parks, and museums.


If you’re lucky enough to travel in the summer, make the most of your opportunities. Here are a few tips for maximizing your summer travel:

  • Look up from your phone!
  • Pay attention to your surroundings.
  • Take the historical tour.
  • Go to the local museum.
  • Try the local cuisine.
  • Be adventurous! Go on the hike, bike, trail, climb, ride, flight…
  • Keep a daily journal.
  • Create a travel blog (great material for your college application!)
  • Immerse yourself in the local culture.

You’ll be amazed at how much you can grow and learn by stepping outside of your comfort zone and meeting new people from new locales and cultures.

College Visits

Of course, summer also provides time to visit colleges. While campuses will not exactly be bustling in the summer months, you can still take a tour and learn a lot that could help you narrow down your choices. If you want to visit some colleges, be sure and check online to see if they are offering tours during the summer. You will learn so much more from a tour than you would by just walking around on your own.

Because there is a little more time in summer, you could plan a road trip to see several schools in a geographic region. For example, a road trip to Boston would allow you to visit a variety of schools, inside and just outside of the city.

While summer is a time to relax and recharge, make sure you include some enriching activities in the mix. The extra time you’ll have in summer is a gift for today and for your future. Use it wisely.

For more tips on college search, college applications, and college admissions, contact our experts at 610-422-353 and visit our website.


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