Parent College Coach Tip #17: Don’t Waste the Summer

Students - Don't waste the summer.Summer is upon us. It means kids will be home from school, families will be going on vacation, and parents will inevitably hear the words, “I’m bored” after a few weeks. If you have a college-bound teen and they utter these words you should be prepared with a response.

Colleges are looking for well-rounded students–students who demonstrate more than academic prowess. Summer is the best time to beef up the resume; not only for college applications, but scholarship applications as well. It’s much better to spend the summer using it productively than to waste it doing nothing or complaining of boredom.

What should college-bound teens be doing this summer?


First and foremost, if they are old enough, they should be working. They can use the job in several different ways: explore career options (paid internships), earn money for college expenses, and communicate to admissions officers a level of responsibility and commitment. An added bonus is that many corporations offer scholarships to their student employees.


Everyone knows that colleges look for community service on an applicant’s resume. Your student should use the summer to explore options and find something that fits their interests. Volunteering also communicates character. For example, tutoring elementary school kids, working in hospitals, and cleaning public parks suggests a student is compassionate and dedicated. However, your student should find one thing and stick to it throughout high school. Jumping around from one activity to another to pad the resume is a red flag to admissions.


Summer is a good time to make preliminary college visits or return visits. Since students won’t be on campus, it’s a good time to take a self-guided tour. Take in the ambiance, the buildings, the layout and get a “feel” for the campus. And if you’re not near any that your student is interested in, that’s fine. Visiting any campus helps familiarize you and your student with college life and gives them a list of wants when they do make that college list.

Instead of spending the summer playing video games, watching endless Netflix series, and sleeping until 2PM, students should use the summer to do those things that are hard to do during the school year. And when senior year arrives, they will be ahead of their fellow students with college prep.