Junior year can be grueling. Many kids look forward to making like Kevin Arnold and spending the summer riding bikes around or going to visit their significant others who are working at mountain lodges for the break. But perhaps there is a reason we all knew Kevin’s friend Paul ended up at Harvard and no one can remember where Kevin, himself got in. While Kevin was busy chasing Winnie, other kids were using their summers to get ahead in the college process.
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 emulating Paul over Kevin and spend your summer working hard on something that lights you up and gets you ahead. If you’ve never seen the Wonder Years and you have no idea what we’re talking about, you might want to check it out, just not this summer because you’ll be too busy.
Develop Your Expertise
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.
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. Our kids tend to get very specific and it seems to work out well for them.
Math is a good place to start, but try getting even more specific: Calculus, astrophysics, statistics, 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 and in the classroom is like. While enrolling in a certain university’s summer program won’t help you get in there, it is bound to impress admissions committees in general.
The Yale Summer Program in Astrophysics is a great option for kids interested in the math-based sciences. MIT offers a six-week intensive for high schoolers interested in advanced theory and math and science research. It’s also free of charge. There are tons of schools out there with options. Just make sure to seek out the most rigorous ones.
Secure an Impressive Internship
Another great way to invest your time this summer would be landing a prestigious internship. NASA offers a number of internships for kids interested in STEM. The vast majority of companies do not offer structured internship programs for high schoolers. That’s okay, though. While that might mean you have to work a little harder to design and secure your own, it also means you’ll be ahead of the competition who gave up when they couldn’t find one.
If math is your passion, research the top companies employing mathematicians in the country and reach out. 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 organizing files. Your goal should be to work hard, 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 many of our students up with impressive internships.
If you can’t secure an internship, research is another great way to go. In fact, consider this your chance to get published while you are still in high school. Earlier in the blog post we suggested honing in on a niche within the larger field of mathematics. We recommend doing some sleuthing to figure out who the best researchers and academics are in that specified arena of study and connecting to see if you can help out for the summer. We have helped many of our kids secure research positions which led to them getting published.
Need help securing a competitive internship? We’re great at helping kids design impressive summer activities. Reach out to us here.