When trying to build up a solid college resume, involving yourself in summer programs is a great way to start. During the school year, it can be difficult to find the time to pursue your interests beyond school when dealing with multiple hours of homework on a nightly basis. Summers should always be used to have fun and relax; however, they should not be wasted away lying around on the couch. While it is important to show universities your well-roundedness, showing a well-defined and unique passion can be even better.
Summer programs range from music camps to sports camps, and even to foreign language immersion camps. They are the perfect opportunity to show colleges that there is more to you than an impressive GPA. Sophomore Katja Martin, a lover of foreign languages, has attended foreign language immersion camps for five years, including French camp Lac du Bois and a Finnish camp called Salolampi. At immersion camps, students are able to learn their desired language in an interactive and fun environment, while still maintaining a sense of that language’s culture through the food, movies, and evening events. When asked about her favorite Finnish camp memories, Katja responded, “What happens in Finnish, stays in Finnish.”
This summer, sophomore Jack Bowen will be attending debate camp at the University of Michigan for his second year in a row. Jack is an accomplished member of the Pace debate team. “It was very helpful last year because my skill improved tremendously,” he said. Academic programs differ from regular school in that they emphasize the importance of having a great time. Sophomore Brian Klarman will be attending debate camp for his third year in a row, also at the University of Michigan. Brian attended debate camp at Berkeley in California last summer, and “loved it.” He explained, “I just got to hang out and be free with my friends, while still learning a lot about debate. It’s awesome.” Sophomore debater Paula Cheng has also attended debate camp for two years. She shared that her fondest memories from debate camp were “getting locked out of [her] dorm and staying up all night to watch Glee.”
A great bonus attached to attending a program at a college is that it allows students to see a college campus and get a taste of what college life is like. Students attending summer programs are usually able to live in the dorms and can take classes in the college’s buildings, sometimes even with that college’s professors. They are surrounded by high school students with similar interests to their own, making it even easier to build lasting friendships.
When selecting a summer program, it is important to choose one that corresponds to your own specific interests, not one that is simply summer school at an impressive college. Class of 2013 dean Mr. Hattori warned students against “doing something simply because it ‘looks good on the resume.'” With a few exceptions, most college summer school programs will accept almost anyone who applies, and college administrators know this. It is for this reason that one should choose a summer program based on a favorite subject in school or an activity that the program specializes in, not based on the “selectivity” of a big-name school. “Colleges do not care if you have attended a specific program. They care if you have learned something from the experience and it has enriched your life,” Mr. Hattori said.
Mr. Hattori also recommended trying to get a summer job “if it results in a experience that you learn from.” When he was younger, he participated in several odd jobs during the summer, such as “working at grocery stores, computer programming,” and even “launching weather balloons.” No matter what you decide to do or where your interests lie, there is a summer program for everyone!
By Suzanne Monyak, Staff Writer ’13