9 Summer Activities that Impress Colleges

Friday, May 17, 2019
Summer Activity College Students

The college admissions landscape has never been more competitive, meaning students need something to set themselves apart from other applicants. While academics are still important, colleges are looking for well-rounded students with good extracurriculars beyond the school year. 

The summer break is the perfect time for this, where a little effort can go a surprisingly long way. Here are nine summer extracurricular activities to impress colleges you could easily take up this summer.

Taking College Classes

What better way to show you're ready for college than to get a jumpstart on it? Some high schools offer college courses as a part of their curriculum, but even if yours doesn't, you have other options to boost your resume. 

Many colleges offer specialized summer programs for high school students taught by actual professors. This can give you an early taste of college life and even strengthen your idea of where you may want to attend or your major. While these are competitive, they show your commitment and dedication to furthering your education.

Completing Classes Online

With many lectures now streamed online, sites like EdX and Coursera allow you to participate in real time. There is a wide range of classes on offer, taught by some of the best professors in the country and alongside a wide range of people. 

These classes can be on academic topics directly related to your future college studies or other issues that interest you. The initiative and drive you show by enrolling will be enough to help you stand out.

Getting a Summer Job

Not only is getting a summer job a great way to make some extra cash, but it's also a great thing to share with colleges to show your commitment and ability to juggle responsibilities. This is true of virtually any job, from working at a local company filing paper to bussing tables at a local restaurant. 

Consider your job as having transferable skills that will also look good on an application. You can talk about interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, and the practical skills you take away from the work. 

Volunteering in Your Community

If there is a cause you're passionate about, volunteering is the perfect way to fulfill your passions while also impressing a college admissions office. Most non-profit organizations are eager for volunteers and will have several roles you can take on for a rewarding experience.

Volunteering shows colleges that you value community, are a good team player, and enjoy helping others. You can also use these opportunities to show commitment to a single cause and your dedication.

Completing an Internship

Internships are a great way to get hands-on experience in a career you may want to pursue or find interesting. In addition to looking impressive on an application, an internship can help you learn new skills that will be useful during college and later in your career. 

As a bonus, these internships give you access to business contacts who may help you find summer jobs during college or even start a career after graduation.

Starting Your Own Business

If you can’t get your hands on a traditional job, create your own! Offering a local service like lawn mowing, babysitting, or dog walking could be very lucrative. It also shows admissions officers that you’re resilient, resourceful, and a good problem solver. You may even be able to carry the business through college for extra cash if it is successful.

Starting Your SAT or ACT Prep

Let’s not forget that academics are still an essential part of the equation! Start practicing for your PSATs, take an online prep course, or find a tutor. This helps your mind stay sharp over the summer and puts you in a better position than your peers.

Ultimately, your prep work won't appear on your application, but your test scores will. Putting in some extra time here can significantly impact your admissions chances and give you valuable test-taking skills for the future. 

Spending a Summer Abroad

Traveling is always an exciting part of summer vacation - why not combine that with an academic experience to include in your application?

Teen summer travel programs are a great way to break out of your comfort zone and become more well-rounded. You can pick up valuable foreign languages, experience a new culture, and gain a deeper insight into yourself and what you want to study. Taking the initiative to complete a program like this bodes well for what you will contribute to campus once you are accepted.

Making College Visits

One of the summer activities that impresses colleges the most is making physical visits. Colleges want students genuinely interested in attending, and visiting is one of the best ways to convey that.

Once you decide where to apply, incorporate things you learned about campus into your statement and other application areas. Especially if you can connect with the staff, you’ll have a huge leg up on the competition.


Impressing colleges doesn't have to be complicated. Depending on your schedule and what works for your summer, you can find many simple ways to add to your resume and show colleges that you are an applicant they cannot pass up!