With the end of the school year approaching, now is a great time for high school students to think about summer activities that will add value to their college applications. The good news is that you do not need to rely on a long list of expensive, grand gestures to stand out.
A new report is encouraging colleges to reward high school students who contribute to their communities in authentic and meaningful ways. Admissions offices are already shifting their focus to recruiting students who demonstrate a genuine commitment to the common good, instead of candidates who only show great personal achievements.
The report, Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions, was prepared by a broad coalition of admissions offices from leading colleges and universities. It places greater emphasis on the quality of a young person’s contributions to their community rather than the quantity of accomplishments in their application.
What does this mean for high school students?
Colleges are not necessarily looking for students who spent a week building a house halfway across the world. Instead, admissions offices are more likely to value students who identify a need in their community and work to fill that need.
Equally important, students from different socio-economic backgrounds are not competing based on who has the biggest bank account for expensive extracurricular activities. Fewer financial resources do not equal a competitive disadvantage; you just need a bit of creativity and hard work.
When planning your summer activities, think about initiatives that will improve the quality of life for people in your community. Try to demonstrate your sense of responsibility and concern for others.
For example, set up a tutoring service to help children from low-income backgrounds in math or English. Or organize a fundraiser to buy essential medicines for people in the poorest parts of the country your family comes from.
This summer is the perfect time to start setting yourself apart from other candidates. By using this opportunity to give back to your community — however you define it — you will show colleges you care about making a meaningful difference.
Dee Blackman is affiliated with The Ivy Dean, Inc., an independent college admissions consulting firm.