When you are applying to the U.S. colleges and universities, apart from a strong academic background and stellar standardized test scores, admissions officers of most competitive colleges often consider your involvement outside of class. You can definitely boost your undergraduate college application by being involved in extracurricular activities (ECAs) during summer. Long and warm days of summer are often the right time to get involved in the activities you had long planned but never had the chance to pursue because of other commitments. Summer is just around the corner and USEF-Nepal encourages you to plan your summer activities properly. This way when you apply to the colleges for next fall, you will have something interesting to tell the colleges. Summer activities could provide the much needed inspiration for your college admission essays. Students have often talked about their summer activities in their college admission essays and impressed the admissions officers.

We recommend you to be involved in summer activities that are meaningful and interesting to you. Our experience suggests that most students try to juggle too many different activities hoping to impress the admissions officers. But such strategy usually backfires because the admission officers are well aware that it is difficult to commit your time and interest in numerous activities. If you list too many summer activities under your ECAs, the admissions committee might feel that you are doing this to draw attention to yourself. Therefore, it is advisable to find one or two activities that you are passionate about and commit yourself to them for a longer term. Being involved in something you are passionate about is more important than what the passion happens to be because colleges in the U.S. are looking for student leaders, researchers, athletes, musicians, dancers, social workers and many other diverse types of students.

There are no magic summer activities that can get you into a college of your choice with full financial aid. You need to know what you are interested in and passionate about. Therefore, take some time to decide what you are really enthusiastic about. It might help to think about the theme of your college application—what side of yours do you want to reflect upon in your college application? Such introspection might help you to choose summer activities that will portray you positively to the college admissions officers. We have seen students being involved in teaching secondary level students, writing articles and working for newspapers and magazines, learning new languages, volunteering at different organizations they are interested in and so on. However, make sure that you are genuinely interested in what you are doing.

You could even form a group with like-minded people and do something meaningful for your community, or generate awareness about something you feel is important. For instance, you could form a club in your community to generate awareness about the importance of general cleanliness. This might sound trivial, but this is one summer activity that might have a positive impact in your community. And positive impact is what the admissions officers value.

Your summer activities might include a paid job or volunteering. If you get a paid job as part of your summer activity, it is wonderful because you would be paid to do what you enjoy. Even if you do not get paid for your summer activities, you could still volunteer at a local school, a hospital or an old-age home. In order to find summer activities to get involved with, talk to people, use the internet and social networking sites. Students who come to USEF-Nepal have often networked with other fellow visitors and found a summer activity to get involved with. Therefore, do some research to find the appropriate summer activities for yourself.

Furthermore, you could approach different organizations as well. Even if the organizations are not hiring, it should not deter you from volunteering because this will help you to develop your interpersonal skills and provide you with valuable experiences.

Summer activities could be used for career exploration as well. For example, if you aspire to be a researcher in the future, you could build your summer activities around helping local professors in their research or labs. Similarly, if you feel that you want to be involved in social work, you could job shadow a social worker over the summer to see what it is like to be in this profession. Also, if you are thinking of a career in social sciences and humanities, summer might be a good time to find someone involved in research in these fields and explore volunteering opportunities. Job shadowing during summer will help you to understand what a particular profession looks like and this will help you to make right career choices for yourself.
Summer activities might also help in your personality development. Being involved in meaningful activities and working with other people might bring out the best in you. You will learn to work in a team setting and might even build leadership skills. Interpersonal skills might also develop as a result of summer activities. Being involved in summer activities might help you to put your knowledge into practice and to further hone your skills. This will benefit you in the long run and you will learn how things work in the real world.

Keep yourself busy with some significant activities during summer. It is not enough to build your summer activity around SAT, ACT and TOEFL preparation if you want to stand out in the college application process and be competitive for admission at selective colleges. It is very important to be involved in noteworthy summer activities and differentiate yourself from the other applicants. Summer activities would also provide you with valuable experiences and personal development opportunities. Organizations and people are always looking for volunteers. Do not wait for the opportunities to come your way. Get out of your comfort zone and grab the opportunities that exist out there. You will love it!

USEF-Nepal’s EducationUSA Advising Center offers accurate, reliable, unbiased, and free information and advice and is the only official source in Nepal on studying in the USA. Visit us in Gyaneswor, Kathmandu. ‘Like’ USEF on Facebook at www.facebook.com/usef.nepal and subscribe to our e-group by sending a blank email to usef_nepal-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.