Often I speak with parent’s of high schoolers who want help finding a summer experience that will “look good” on their child’s resume and translate to something positive on college applications. Which experience, they want to know, will be best for that? Community Service? Language Immersion? Classes on a college campus?
This is in interesting question and the reality is complex. What college advisors have shared with me is if a child has a passion and chooses a summer experience in the field of that passion, it can demonstrate commitment and devotion which is generally well received by schools. An example of that would be a medical internship or one in photography or cooking particularly if this in an area that the student volunteers in during the school year. A one summer stab at photography, for example, will not be as beneficial if it is not in the context of an ongoing passion.
However in my experience both with my own children and the families with whom I consult, any summer experience can offer a plethora of topics that can translate into that infamous college essay. Not the “How I Spent My Summer” type of essay but rather the slice of life events that resulted in a student having a better understanding of who they are and how their life experience fits the bigger picture. One of my son’s who was on a community service program in Costa Rica described the moment he understood a joke in Spanish and was able to participate in the retelling.
So can a summer program help in college admission? Maybe yes, maybe no, but expanding a student’s exposure to new and different experiences can certainly be broadening, and if they look it just might offer a topic for their college essay.