Summer is a wonderful time to catch up on all of the R&R you missed while you were manically editing personal essays, trying to burn the Fourteen Points into your memory before the APUSH test, and trying to replace the Fourteen Points with the four phases of Mitosis before the Biology SAT Subject Test. But before you get too deep into another season of Downton Abbey, consider getting ahead in the admissions process.
The summer between junior and senior years is the opportune moment to dive in and explore your passions in life. While you don’t have to land on a major just yet, by this point, you probably have some kind of idea what interests you in life and colleges want to know about it.
Aside from grades and scores, colleges are more interested in how you spend your free time than just about anything else. It tells them all they need to know about who you are. So, consider spending your summer working hard on something that lights you up and take a break from the rest.
Develop Your Expertise
Universities want to see you develop an expertise in a certain area. This should even help you narrow down your career path once you’re in school. We recommend building out two to four interests and becoming an expert in those areas. The more specific, the better. So, let’s say you’re interested in theater. Consider developing an expertise in something specific: Shakespearian theater, directing, costume design, musical theater, etc.
Enroll in a Rigorous College Course
Many of the nation’s top universities offer summer-session college courses for high school students. The summer between junior and senior years is a great time, not only to develop a baseline knowledge in the kinds of curricula you will see in college, but also to get a glimpse into what life on campus is like. If you go the college course route, be sure you’ve chosen a rigorous program.
NYU’s acclaimed Tisch School of Drama offers a four-week drama intensive for high schoolers. UCLA offers two sessions of courses in theater. Just know that while taking a college course this summer may increase your odds of getting into college in general, it will be no means afford you additional odds of getting into the college where you are taking that course.
Secure an Impressive Internship
Another great way to invest your time this summer would be landing a prestigious internship. While some companies like Houston’s Alley Theater do offer structured internships designed specifically for high schoolers, the vast majority do not. This is good news. This means that by securing an internship in high school, you’re getting ahead of the competition. It might also mean a little extra work for you.
If production design is your passion, research the top theatrical production designers in the country and pitch your own internship to them. If directing is your desired trajectory, connect with some of Broadway’s major directors and see what’s possible. This isn't easy to do, but if you're truly passionate you will find a way to get an assistant's email address. By offering your time and expertise free of charge, you are an asset to whomever you intern with this summer. Hiring you should be a no-brainer. Just make sure that whatever you do is with the best of the best and also, that you’re actually working hard. What you do not want to do is take an internship where you’ll be getting coffee for said famous director twice/week. Your goal should be to work heard, learn as much as possible, and make connections that may serve you in the future.
If you need some help securing a hard-to-land internship or designing your own, reach out to us. We’ve set plenty of our students up with internships that impressed the admissions committees.
One of our writers was really into theater in high school. She had made contacts at the professional theater in the city in which she grew up (one of the best in the nation) and decided to reach out to one of the actors there leading up to her summer break. As it turns out, he was directing a play for kids in a juvenile detention center and was looking to recruit an assistant director. Our writer spent her summer getting to know the kids in the facility and learning a bit about the criminal justice system in her area. She helped direct the production, manage rehearsals, and was also accountable for designing and creating costumes for the 50 kids in the play on a very tight budget.
Volunteering is a great way to invest your time this summer. Just make sure that whatever you choose is rigorous and immersive. Do not simply teach reading at a day camp twice/week. Apply your skillset and design something with which you’ll really be able to get your hands dirty.
Need help securing a competitive internship? We’re great at helping kids design impressive summer activities. Reach out to us here.