New Year’s Resolutions & Summer Planning

Happy New Year! The New Year is a great time to make plans, set goals and create new habits. Research has shown that it takes at least three weeks (some say nine!) to form a new habit. glenn-carstens-peters-190592-unsplash-listHigh School juniors should keep in mind that eight to nine weeks is also the minimum amount of time recommended for a successful test prep plan! For freshmen and sophomores, now is the perfect time to develop good study habits and explore interests that will help guide your future coursework and activities.

Regardless of your year in high school, I have some suggestions to add to your New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Plan Your Summer Wisely
  2. Be mindful about your academics (more on this next month)
  3. Start Connecting with Colleges (more on this in March)
  4. Explore majors, careers, interests, and values (coming this spring)
  5. Focus on the positives and learn how to reduce your stress (more info coming this spring)
  6. College Research Tips (more info coming this summer)

Even though college research and planning requires some work, it should also be fun and exciting. There are thousands of colleges and hundreds of different paths that lead to success…not just one! Regardless of your year in high school, establishing productive and engaging spring and summer plans can help you have a successful and low-stress college planning and application process. Below are more tips and resources to help with my suggested New Year’s Resolution #1.

ethan-robertson-134952-unsplash-sunglassesSummer is the best time to broaden your experiences, explore your interests, help your communities and deepen your passions. All characteristics colleges will be looking for in their applicants! Summer before your junior year is really your last chance to show colleges what kind of an impact you will make on a college campus.  For sophomores and freshmen, things you pursue now are great building blocks for future opportunities.

If you do not have your summer plans in place, take some time to look at your current resume and consider your future goals. Creating a resume is one of the first things I do with students as it helps students see what colleges will (or won’t) see, as well as highlights areas to add or explore further. Also, think about the characteristics you want to show colleges. Does your list of activities support your academic interests and desired qualities? If not, brainstorm ideas and research local programs to explore. Your high school counselor is a great resource for summer opportunities, career-related learning experiences, and organizations that need volunteers.

Local Internships

Try searching the internet for “high school internships”. Many competitive summer internship programs have late winter or early spring deadlines. One here in Portland is the Apprenticeships in Science & Engineering where 150 selected students work with mentors in fields like Biology, Health or Medical, Earth or Environmental Science, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Physics. Apply before March 8: For Portland-area students, explore the Portland Summer Opportunities List on my website’s “Useful Resources” page.

National Competitive Internships

There are national internship programs, like the Bank of America Student Leaders Program (for current 11th & 12th-grade students) which is an 8-week PAID internship with an all-expenses-paid trip to D.C. The Student Leaders program connects 225 community-minded high school juniors and seniors to employment, skills development, and service. They’re awarded paid summer internships with local nonprofits such as Boys and Girls Clubs of America and participate in a national leadership summit in Washington, D.C. If you are someone with a passion for improving the community, click here to learn more about the eligibility criteria. The 2019 Student Leaders application is due early February. For more great opportunities, search this resource by Collegewise.

Summer Academic & Pre-College Programs

Will a summer program help get me into college?

Participating in a program on a specific college campus will not help admission chances at that particular school.  Students should be interested in a quality experience and want to explore that area of the country. These programs can help a student explore majors, experience life on a college campus and provide material for their essays.  I usually recommend trying to find something local and more economical, but for those that have room in their budgets, check out the resources below, and more are listed here.

Summer Discovery

Fourteen college campuses, including UCLA, UPenn, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, and Yale participate in the Summer Discovering program. You’ll take courses taught by university faculty in disciplines like business, STEM, leadership, foreign language, writing, and other areas. Programs for any academic subject or career aspiration

There are also some university-based programs that provide attendees with transferable college credit. Some examples:

tessa-rampersad-764245-unsplash-towelOther GREAT things to do in the summer:

Taking classes during the summer can be a great way of demonstrating an academic/ intellectual interest, or to catch up or get ahead in a regular subject. It displays your eagerness to learn, even during school breaks. Talk to your high school counselor about options.

Community service: Spend the summer doing some community service or volunteer work. Colleges love to see applicants who have engaged in something bigger than themselves. No, you don’t have to fly across the globe to solve the hunger crisis–find something local that matters to you.

Here are some great volunteer search engines:

Learn about one-time and extended volunteer opportunities at an easy-to-use website called Hands-On Portland. Type in your zip code or a keyword like computers or animals to find non-profits that need your time and talent.

Volunteer Match is another great online resource for finding a cause or non-profit which needs your passion and talent.

Habitat for Humanity Youth Programs: Lots of opportunities to get involved locally or another part of the country.

Or start your own high school chapter:

Get a job: College is very expensive and you will be glad you worked over the summer and were able to put some money away. Colleges will always appreciate an applicant’s dedication and determination, and a job shows both responsibility and reliability – great qualities in a college student.

Create your own internship using the connections you and your family have in your area of interest(s).

If you will be traveling a lot this summer, think of creative ways to use your experience, like creating a travel or photo blog.

Colleges will be looking at your activities to get an idea of what kind of impact you will have on their campus. Take the opportunity now to try something new, lead a project, work on a skill, or help your community.


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  1. Pingback: Using Your Summer Wisely | collegeboundandready

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