10 months ago
Admissions Advice

Which of these potential summer activities will put me in a good position?

I am a freshman planning my summer. Potential career- Split between a plastic surgeon and something in business.

1. Summer School - Probably to take an extra class

2. Take a Community College course - At my local CC, probably an easy class or two.

3. Take an online course- Through Coursera or something

4. Competitions or scholarships- Mostly scholarships I need college money

5. Research Internship- Probably at a more local uni like MSU or a remote position at a more far away school

6. General Intership- Hopefully at like CNN, congressional level, or at a hospital (too ambitious, I know)

7. Job- Most likely at a local zoo or ice cream shop (I have an offer at both)

8. Politics- Campaigning or interning

9. Start a business or something-Well maybe not business but I have TONS of ideas for stellar side projects or non profits

10. Travel (maybe cuz of covid)- Idk if COVID will allow it, I will see how it works out

11.Visit/tour some colleges- good experience, fun, although ,maybe not this summer because of COVID

12. Shadowing- Probably at a Plastic Surgery center or at the new State of Michigan Police Department and shadow or intern for forensics.


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3 answers

Accepted Answer
10 months ago

Short answer: do what you most want to do! Freshman summer activities, at the end of the day, are really not a defining feature of your college application (assuming that you don't cure cancer in starting your non profit or something else absurdly awesome!).

Medium answer: Same answer, but a slightly different justification. You ask which of these activities will put you in a good position. I would argue that the better question is on what will set you up to end up in a good position. Think about your early high school summers as a kind of trampoline that can help launch you onto certain paths. If you're an athlete, for example, and your goal is to play a D-1 sport, a great use of your summer would be to train and improve on fundamental weaknesses in whatever sport you play. For 99% of people, none of that work in freshman year is ever going to be seen by any college admissions officer, and it's not going to rake in any wild awards or resume lines for freshman year, but it can set the foundation for you so that in your junior of high school you get all-state recognition and you land on the radar of college coaches, all because you set yourself on that path a couple years earlier. Same thing for any other activity -- are there certain things that you are more interested in that you can see yourself continuing to invest time into in college? A non profit that you keep going for four years could be super cool. Research internships could spark a longer project or paper, or just an academic passion that helps you focus your high school learning. Note that while I am not advising against shadowing, I don't think it fits this justification better than the average activity, since it's much harder to follow up on a summer of shadowing at a plastic surgery center. It doesn't translate as well into something that you can do long-term (but by no means telling you not to do it either!)

A second medium answer: Really most of these options look great, and again ultimately if you do what you most want to do, I think that will put you in the best place to succeed. Doing what interests you is always a great proxy for what will put you in a good position.

Having said that, I would push against 3 and 4. If there is a course on coursera that you are SUPER interested in, again of course that is the overriding factor and ignore what I'm saying here. But generally, it's harder to get credit for coursera courses, you don't get a lot of recognition, you probably won't get to skip out of whatever equivalent your high school might offer, it's hard to keep the discipline to stay on task without the traditional grading/classroom environment, and it won't leave a lasting impact on your academic profile. And if you need college money, applying to scholarships is generally not the most cost effective way to actually go, especially when you are a freshman in high school. I'm not sure that you'd be eligible for any of the kind of scholarships that you have in mind. Work on your grades, extracurriculars etc etc instead so that you can be a strong college candidate when the years roll around, and doing so will put you in a position to make colleges will offer you money/financial aid to attend!

10 months ago

Wow! That is a pretty extensive list that proves that you have done great research. I admire your initiative to succeed especially only being a freshman. I am confident that you will succeed in whatever you choose.

I recommend accepting one of your job offers. It is extremely valuable to have work experience because you will be able to establish a resume. A part-time job will also teach you valuable skills that will transcend into any career. This will also address your financial concerns.

You mentioned enrolling in a Coursera class. This is a good option if you are interested in learning a new skill. However, it is unlikely that you are able to get school credit for this. If you are very interested in your "stellar projects or non profits" then you can learn helpful skills on Coursera. For example, if you would like to sell clothes then look into learning sewing techniques on Coursera. This is another great option.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has resulted in numerous travel restrictions. Therefore, it will be difficult to travel especially to academic institutions (most are not accepting visitors). However, do not worry. The majority of freshmen do not tour colleges because they have a few years left to do so. Hopefully, travel restrictions will be lifted in the next few years, allowing you plenty of time to tour schools. In the meantime, you can research online to get a sense of which schools you are interested in. Some schools even have 'virtual tours' on their websites!

Regardless of what you end up doing, I strongly recommend that you research scholarship opportunities. Although you are never too young to research, you may be too young to apply (the majority of applications are open only to Juniors and Seniors). Do not be discouraged! Visit websites like Scholarships.com to see if you qualify (or will qualify in a few years) for scholarships. Planning ahead can help you manage your time because many scholarships require essays (which take time to write).

Whatever you choose to do make sure that you have fun! I wish you good luck this summer and in all of your future endeavors!

10 months ago

Wow! You have a lot of great options. I'm in the same place myself, trying to decide what I want to do this summer. I am a freshman as well so it's hard to know what to prioritize. I have a lot of activities planned, and it's hard to decide! I would say choose what interests you most. Don't do it just for the application if you don't actually like it. What are you the most passionate about? Also, don't spread yourself too thin otherwise you won't get much done. If you focus on some big activities, then you could get a lot done. But if you do all of these, then you might not get far over the summer. For example, it's really hard to invest yourself into a business if you are doing a hundred other things at the same time. It won't make a lot of money if you can't devote a lot of time to it, and colleges don't really look at your own initiative business projects unless you made at least $2,000 in one year. But the side projects sound like something you probably really want to do! It's good to have backup plans in case they fall through. Make a plan and write out how much time you will have to devote to each activity this summer, and then decide which ones you will be able to do and fit into your schedule. Make a list ranked of your top choices to bottom choices of summer activities. IDK which ones colleges would care about more, but that's just what I think.


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