Summer Make or Break

Ten years from now, few high school kids will remember how many times they went to the mall or the beach this summer. But they will never forget the week they find out what colleges have accepted them. Using the summer months to gain an edge in college admissions can be a make or break activity, the effects of which will last a lot longer than a tan.

Summer -- away from the pressures of school -- is the ideal time for high schoolers to do things to bolster their chances of getting into a great school. Make good use of this time to seek out and pursue educational, civic or future-vocational activities that broaden their experience and put them in the best possible position for acceptance into a college of their choice.

Here are 10 ways to make the most of summer.

Tip 1: Make Summer Count

Set meaningful, achievable goals, small or large. Approach summer break as an opportunity for personal discovery; a chance to identify an interest or develop a passion or skill. This winning attitude is what it is all about. Be active and pursue varied experiences that get you one step closer to knowing what to pursue in college. If fashion is an interest, work in a retail store while interning for a fashion company, to gain exposure to the world of manufacturing and merchandising.

Tip 2: Build Upon An Interest

Take what you love to the next level. If you write for your school paper, find an internship with the community paper or blog for an organization, business, or cause. Discover the connection between writing, blogging and marketing and bring the knowledge back to your school in the fall to make your school publication even better.

Tip 3: Work

Whether making a latte, being a lifeguard or camp counselor or assisting in a business, a steady job offers massive rewards. Find out what business feels like from the inside. Use the job to help pinpoint how your likes and strengths relate to functions within that organization and beyond. Every single job can be an enriching catalyst towards self-discovery.

Tip 4: Develop New Skills

Do what couldn't be done during the busy school year. Discover a talent in an area of interest. Learn to play an instrument, try yoga, explore meditation, or take a cooking class. Activities such as these can become life-long pursuits.

Tip 5: Take Initiative

Self-esteem and expertise can soar through self-directed study. Develop your existing passion for art by diving deep into its history, key artists and popular-culture. Improve your Spanish by steeping yourself in the films of Cuaron, Almodovar and Del Toro or through an internship with a Spanish-language media or internet business. Write a screenplay for a short film, then film and edit it!

Tip 6: Enroll In A Class

Take a college class in something you're curious about but can't get in your high school such as anthropology, marketing, philosophy, entrepreneurship, or Egyptian art, etc. There is no better way to hone in on a potential college major. If the timing is tough or a great class nearby is hard to find, pursue one of the terrific online courses offered by Yale, Harvard, MIT or Stanford. Show yourself and everyone else that you can be successful at the collegiate level.

Tip 7: Make A Contribution

Make a difference in the lives of others. Volunteer or assist to create meaningful impact. Whether as an environmentalist, aspiring actor, writer, activist or mathematician, your talents can be put to use to help effect change. Tutoring young kids, coaching a recreational team, participating in beach cleanups, for example, can enhance valuable skills and cultivate special relationships.

Tip 8: Read!

Explore new and interesting topics or books without the burden of school requirements. To find the most rewarding books, ask teachers or friends for suggestions, or check out the resources on college websites. And don't forget: even pleasure reading can lead to much improved standardized test scores!

Tip 9: Tackle Summer School Assignments Early

Get your required reading or academic obligations out of the way. Starting these is often the hardest part, so don't wait to tackle them. Once those are behind you, seniors can get a head start on college applications and those all-important essays, an approach that leads to more successful college admissions.

Tip 10: Enjoy Your Summer and Have Fun

Connect with family and friends and take time to relax. Take pride in the activities and accomplishments of your summer experience, and let that energy drive the fantastic year that lies ahead.

Here's the bottom line: You'd be surprised what you can accomplish in 50 or 60 days if you set your mind to it. Take advantage of these summer months to create a powerful experience with lasting personal impact. Have no regrets.

Go ahead... make this your best summer yet!