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6 Ways to Improve Your College Applications Over the Summer

students at university

As a high school student, there are not a lot of internships available that will give you marketable and legitimate experience in the field you desire to go into. However, there are still many other options to make your summer productive while gaining experience — especially if you are looking for ways to make your college applications stand out:

1. College Classes (Dual Credit Courses)

Getting a jump start on your college education is a great way to show initiative for your future. If you work hard and receive good grades in the class(es) you choose to take, it can look good on your college applications as it proves you are capable of completing work on an undergraduate level.

A college class will give you an idea of what to expect when going into college in both the academic rigor and the structure of classes; therefore, ensuring that it is the correct path for you. More specifically, if you are interested in a certain field of study, it can introduce you to the field before college.

Whether you have yet to submit your college applications or are already committed to a school, starting your coursework early gives you a head start for college. If you are not sure where you want to go, check your local community college for affordable, close-to-home classes that you can take in your free time. However, if you are already committed to a college, be sure to check to see if they take the credits from a community college class before enrolling. Your college may also already have a program where you can start classes directly after your high school graduation.

2. Pre-College Prep Programs

Although each program is different depending on the college, many pre-college programs allow you to spend time living on a college campus while getting a feel of what it is like to be a college student. It is extremely helpful if you are interested in going to a specific college or make your college applications look more appealing. It gives you the college experience before actually attending college. 

However, these programs do come with drawbacks as these programs often come at a cost. Living on campus and taking courses there can get pricey as you are spending money on  earning college credits on top of your normal housing and living expenses. 

3. Job-Shadowing 

If you are interested in a few different career areas after high school or are just looking to feel more confident in your future career choice, you should consider job shadowing opportunities. They give you a complete look at the day-to-day operations of a company with the opportunity to ask questions along the way. It can be difficult to know exactly what a day in life looks like for a specific career, this gives you that chance. (Forage offers free virtual experiences that let you replicate work at top companies, and connect to the companies themselves.)

If you do not personally know anyone working in the field or with the company you hope to work for, you can directly contact the HR department of the company and ask if this is a possibility. This is an experience you can showcase on your college applications to show you are proactive in your future. 

4. Volunteering

There are a ton of volunteer opportunities that are perfect for honing your skills and to feature on a college application. From volunteering at your local animal shelter or food bank, there is a volunteer opportunity out there that fits your interests. You can even take on an unpaid internship at a non-profit and get internship experience on your resume early.

5. Working a Part-Time Job

Rather than an internship, working a part-time job is another viable option that you can spend your summers doing. It shows colleges on applications the same work ethic and dedication as you are putting your efforts into something bigger than yourself. Another plus to this option is they are always paid opportunities whereas internships at this age are typically unpaid. There are usually plenty of opportunities available locally and with bigger companies which allow for you to get a job with ease. 

6. Dedicating Time to Side Projects

This is especially a good option if  you are more interested in pursuing a creative career. As an artist, graphic designer, writer, or something similar, it may be beneficial to invest your time in working on a passion project. For instance, creating a website to showcase your talent and works can be an amazing resource. 

Nevertheless, it is also a good idea for those who are business-minded as creating a side business can show great initiative. Putting your entrepreneurial skills to use will allow you to explore your passions free of any set time constraints that come with an internship. If you have yet to apply for colleges, these projects can be added to your college applications as a way to showcase your skills.

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