While most educators get summers off, for those aspiring to become teachers, summer break is, perhaps, the best time to get ahead. We have highlighted a few ways in which you can spend your summer investing in your college admissions process while your competition is taking it easy. Before we get started, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
First, whatever you do, make sure it’s rigorous. Don’t just lock down an internship in which you’ll be getting coffee for someone a few times each week. Really dive in and show the admissions committee that you actually put in the effort to learn something important.
Secondly, get specific. Having some idea of what you want to do in life is beneficial, but developing a niche is a surer road to success. If you know you’re interested in shaping young minds, consider really targeting a specific field inside of teaching and becoming an expert in that niche. If you love elementary education, go that route. If you’re into early childhood development, explore that calling. If you’re great at math, dive in and learn all you can about teaching math. Don’t worry. You can always change your mind later, but for this summer, showing college admissions teams that you are passionate about something specific and that you have a clear path towards pursuing that passion should be a goal of yours.
Landing a great internship is a fabulous investment of your time. The objective here should be to spend your summer with a great organization where you will be learning under the top experts in their fields, challenging yourself, and making contacts that will benefit you on the road to professional success. This internship should be immersive. In other words, it should be full-time and it shouldn’t be too easy.
There are a number of prestigious organizations allocating resources towards educational research and policy initiatives. The Department of Education actually offers internships of up to eight weeks for high schoolers. Remember when we suggested you focus on a specific niche inside of education? DOE internship applicants will have the opportunity to focus on an area of interest, from research to policy analysis, finance, legal, and more.
The vast majority of highly-regarded higher-ed do not offer structured internships for high schoolers. That’s ok. We recommend identifying the organization where you would like to work and proposing your own internship to the top brass. Start by identifying the leaders in education research or programming. Tenured faculty at the nation’s top schools are often conducting research of their own. Connecting with a professor conducting important research at Stanford’s renowned Graduate School of Education or Penn’s Graduate School of Education could be an opportunity for you to get published while still in high school.
Schools like Columbia Teacher College are at the forefront of curriculum development. The school’s Reading and Writing Project develops tools and methods for the nation’s educators. Harvard’s Center for Education Policy Research was developed as a partnership between government entities and researchers focused on analyzing data to further educational progress. Many of the nation’s top education schools offer similar programs or initiatives. Interning with the directors or faculty involved with such a program is a great way to spend the summer.
Over the years, we have connected our kids to a number of sought after, rigorous internships. If you would like some help locking an internship or designing one to pitch that will look great on your resume, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Summer is also a great time to give back to your community. If you have an interest in volunteering, considering designing an activity that, not only contributes to society, but also helps you gain a competitive advantage in the college admissions process. The key here is to become involved with an activity that is rigorous. Your competition will undoubtedly volunteer, too. They will clean up playgrounds, spend a week administering medical aid in a foreign country, and even teach reading to kids from low-income communities. In all likelihood, they will be engaging in their service through a pre-planned program. While many of those programs are effective in providing something to underserved communities, we recommend that our students do the research to find out where they can be most helpful. This will not only provide you with the opportunity to really get your feet wet, but also to be of service in a meaningful way.
First, reach out to your network. Who do you know? Who do your teachers know? Perhaps there was a speaker who came to an assembly to talk about a need for tutors at an elementary school or maybe you helped out with a toy drive for a school your freshman year. Use your resources to find a school (likely an elementary school) that lacks resources—somewhere where you could actually be useful and connect with them.
The next step is to propose a program for yourself where you could both learn and be involved in the day-to-day education of the students or the operations of the school. If you aspire to be a classroom teacher, your goal should be to help design and implement a curriculum. If you’re great with organization and time management, help the principal manage daily activities. Play to your strengths and work hard on your pitch so that your abilities shine through. Again, the goals are to show your top-choice colleges that you challenged yourself this summer and to take on some real responsibility so that you can learn by doing.
You should also reach out to us. We have helped many of our kids design their own summer activities. We can help you, not only connect with a place where you can volunteer this summer, but also design your proposal.
Need help securing a competitive internship? Reach out to us here.