It really is hard to believe that the end of the school year is just around the corner! It is time to adapt quickly and make those summer plans! Plan ahead for activities that add to the resume. Remember, if students position themselves well, this summer can be fun AND productive!

First, and most importantly, students should do something they enjoy. This is summer vacation, after all! Line up activities that will help you stand out and reflect who you are. Your chosen activities should highlight your main interests.

Highlighting your extracurricular activities has become more important than ever!  It will set you apart from other applicants and help you stand out, whether you choose to submit your test scores or not (for test optional colleges).

Here are some ideas to get you started on planning your summer. 


  • This category can involve almost anything; a summer job at a supermarket, volunteering at day camps, starting a community recycling project, or taking an art class at a local studio. 
  • Pick something that keeps with your interests during the academic year, and possibly even your career interest. Colleges like to see long-term commitments from students and look for continuity in your activities. 
  • Research and apply early. Some programs are free for participants but require nominations, and many require recommendations, transcripts and counselor forms, possibly portfolios or interviews.


  • Stay sharp academically, even though you’re not in school. Have fun with it! There are so many special topics programs to choose from. You can find a list of some opportunities here. 
  • Many colleges will continue to offer programs virtually this summer. In some cases, you might be able to earn college credits. If you are looking for a real challenge, colleges like MIT (MIT OpenCourseWare) offer entire courses online, freely and openly available to anyone as an open educational resource.


  • Start a Business – Students can start their own business. For some young entrepreneurs, it makes sense to create a project from home. Students can demonstrate their creative side by making a website or selling their product on an on-line platform like Etsy. 
  • Offer Services – Alternatively, offering landscaping services, dog waking, party planning, playing Disney characters, face painting or babysitting services are a great way to earn experience and some spending money while developing business, marketing and accounting skills.
  • Work – Colleges value work experience. In fact, one of the supplemental questions on the University of Florida application, specifically asks about the student’s work experience. Working teaches responsibility, leadership and time management, not to mention earning a little cash for those extras will be nice! 
  • Externship/Internship – The difference between an externship and an internship is that an externship is typically an unpaid shadowing of a respected industry professional, while an internship is a paid or voluntary position with an organization for someone who is learning a profession that is hands-on. You might not need to look far for opportunities because your family and friends are great resources for locating externship/internship opportunities!

Learn or Perfect Skills

  • Learn a new language. Try an app like Duo Lingo, or connect with a native speaker, learn sign language, OR learn a programming language. 
  • Build On-line presence- Have you always wanted to create an app or build a website? There are many skills you can teach yourself.
  • Study an art or academic discipline- for example, increase your skills in painting or photography and work on your portfolio, or study history and visit historic sites if you are a history buff. Learn to play a new instrument.
  • Perfect your athletic skills- Form your own practice group or help coach an athletic camp.

Create an Amazing Resume

  • Create a Resume- It is never too early to put together your resume. Starting your resume early will allow you to identify areas that need to be developed. It takes a lot of thought and a fair amount of time to relay all that you’ve done. Students need to portray their activities and interests in a compelling, accurate way. Schedule time with your College Planner to work on your resume. 
  • The resume will be a critical tool in your application process. Some colleges will allow you to upload your resume directly. Otherwise, you will be able to transfer the information from your resume into your applications. The Common Application, for example, allows students to list up to 10 activities and up to 5 academic awards from their resume. A college planner can help you develop and populate a great college resume!

Don’t forget that activities outside of school or academics have a place here too – if you maintain a heavily trafficked personal blog, for example, don’t forget to include it even though it’s not a school activity. 

College applications will allow you to highlight your online presence or provide links to personal web-sites.

Junior? Get a head start on your college applications

  • Don’t procrastinate! Start on your applications as soon as you can. While it is possible that individual colleges/universities or the Common Application might update their applications and essay prompts, you can still work on the main parts of the application early in the summer. These will transfer into the updated application once it opens in August.
  • Starting early will allow you to get plenty of feedback on your writing. 

Whatever you choose to do this summer, this is a great time to explore the world, connect with others who have the same interests, and learn something new! Happy Summer!

Christina Assal, M.A., Certificate in College Planning
Milestone College Prep