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How to use your summers gainfully by preparing for college and career

Source: http://pixabay.com/en/summer-glasses-sun-sunglasses-149456/

Source: http://pixabay.com/en/summer-glasses-sun-sunglasses-149456/

Many colleges will ask students how they spent their summers, and even if they do not, the summers often represent the time of the year where you have relatively more time to spend developing your non-academic areas. The reason that I am writing this in the winter is that in order to plan your summer, you may need to explore a variety of options.


Many colleges offer summer programs to explore subject areas in more depth than you can do in high school. These are structured and challenging programs, and often require that you collaborate with other students. They do tend to be pretty expensive also.

1. Stanford University Mathematics Camp (SUMaC)

Location: Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Web site: http://math.stanford.edu/sumac


2. Stanford’s EPGY (Education Program for Gifted Youth at Stanford University)

Location: Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Web site: http://epgy.stanford.edu/


3. All Stanford Summer Programs here: http://spcs.stanford.edu/programs


4. Summer at Brown: Several areas

Location: Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

Web Site: http://brown.edu/ce/pre-college/

Duration: 1-7-Week sessions


5. Lead Programs

LEAD Engineering: http://www.leadprogram.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=218901&type=d

LEAD Business: http://www.leadprogram.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=218898&type=d


6. Johns Hopkins Engineering Innovation

Location: Johns Hopkins University, Maryland

Web Site: http://engineering.jhu.edu/ei/about-ei/program-description/

Remember: Taking a summer program does not necessarily mean you have a better chance of getting into that college, nor is it an automatic advantage on your resume per se. Colleges are interested in your experiences, not just the “name” of a particular program or college. If you go for a summer program, see in what broader ways you could take advantage of the program or college in general while you are there. Be a detective and look for opportunities to work with a professor, utilize facilities for your own project, or go beyond the required work to demonstrate a level of maturity that shows you know how to seek out resources. That will be impressive in admissions regardless of the program you do.



First of all, not too many companies are actively seeking 16-17-year-olds for internships. Therefore, you are going to need to scout out your opportunities carefully. Your best bet is to check your immediate network of parents, family and friends of family. But even before that you should consider two things and prepare a resumé.

Think first about what you would like to be exposed to? Make a list of potential areas that you are curious about. You might have things in mind already, or you could look back over your notes in courses related to the potential career path and jot down potential concepts that you would like to explore in “the real world”. Your second list should be a brainstorm of strengths you already have. What do you immediately bring to the table? Good quantitative skills, or quick learner, etc. Whatever you can think of that may help someone who has never managed a teenager before. Armed with these points, you are ready to approach your network and meet any potential opportunities. That meeting will be effective because after you share your lists, it is likely that he/she will be able to direct you to an opportunity that will be meaningful.


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Prab Singh heads CollegeSource (http://thecollegesource.net/), an organisation that provides life coaching to adolescents and support to their family through the process of deciding their higher education and career goals.

2 thoughts on “How to use your summers gainfully by preparing for college and career

  1. Sudha Kumar

    Summer months are a great way to gain experience and also build your resume as a student. Having gone through this process for two kids, here are some tips, in addition to Prab’s: 1. be aware that unlike in the US, the idea of high school students working in summer is still catching on- so, as Prab says, reaching out to people you know is still by far the best way, though enterprising kids can do their own research and write to companies they find interesting. Startups and new generation companies and especially those run by young entrepreneurs could be more open,

    Doing your own project is also a great idea. My daughter did 2 such independent projects- one through 2 summers and another for a few weeks one summer. The advantages here are that you are not dependent on what is available and can show initiative. If you do manage to complete it, I believe you score more brownie points as it is much harder to work independently and motivate yourself. In fact, I believe that her summer project played a big role in helping her get good outcomes when she applied for college.


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