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  • Writer's pictureDina

2022 Summer Planning Tips

The semester is coming to a close, and students are done with this year's AP exams; summer break is here, and for many students who have not yet planned their summer activities, it is a time of rest and relaxation.

Of course, summer breaks are long. But for those who happen to be procrastinators, it might go by before anything ever gets done.

College applicants are submitting higher GPAs and standardized scores by the year, which has made extracurricular activities the real differentiator. Now the million dollar question for students and parents is: what are good activities for the upcoming summer break?

According to a report, 87.1% of Harvard's freshmen engages in some kind of community service or volunteering, and about half are involved in musical or sports clubs. Culture, journalism, performance, language related activities or student union experience are also quite common among Harvard freshman during high school.

Surely, there are many other types of extracurricular activities in addition to attending summer schools. Diverse extracurricular activities allow admissions officers to learn about each student’s educational backgrounds, personal experiences, their forming worldviews, insights about the society, and self-perception, based on written descriptions of these activities.

There are many distinct types of extracurricular activities. CommonApp, the university application system, provides only 10 vacancies for extracurricular activities, but there are in fact 30 types of extracurricular activities. Students are encouraged to organize their existing activities according to the categories below and plan accordingly.

Before applying to college, 9th graders will have 3 summer vacations, and they need to make good use of each. If you haven't made arrangements for attending any summer schools, find out what other interesting and meaningful things can you do for the summer.

Consider the question: what do you find meaningful?

If you take your time to do something and do it with purpose, it will be meaningful to you. When deciding whether or not to undertake a certain activity, think about it from the following perspectives:

  • Is it something you enjoy?

  • Can you make impact?

  • Will you meet new friends and form new connections?

  • Will you learn new skills and knowledge?

Try your best to avoid activities that:

  • You think university admission officers may like;

  • All your friends are doing.

We have listed below 5 general categories of activities for your reference:

School Service:

Consider the following activities and roles that will help students at your school and around you

  • Student Union

  • Teaching Assistant

  • Peer Tutor


Some STEM activities require teamwork, some require project-based engagement, and summer break is an excellent time for team building and group work.

  • VEX Robotics

  • First Robotics

  • School or Regional Science Fair(as participants, judges, etc.)

  • Synopsys Science Fair

  • iGEM International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (Upcoming Application Deadline on 5/27)

  • Hackathon

Humanities and Social Sciences

Some of these are club activities. If there is no such club at your high school, why not found one yourself?

  • Yearbook

  • School Press/Media Center

  • Dance Club

  • Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA)

  • Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA)

  • YMCA Youth in Government

  • YMCA Model United Nations

Community Service

  • Church Volunteer Service Volunteer

  • Homeless Shelter Volunteer

  • Small Animal Shelter Volunteer

  • Hospital Volunteer

  • Leo Clubs, an organization that develops youth leadership through community service

  • Soup Kitchen, an organization that provides free food for those in need

Sports and Personal Well-being

High school students are faced with enormous pressure academically, and many students cope with that stress by doing sports. Some also found new clubs of this sort to reach more people.

  • Yoga

  • Hiking

  • Meditation

  • Other sports that you are good at, especially those in which you can take on leadership roles or can compete at a high level.

Our word of advice: before summer officially starts, think carefully about whether these are things you'd like to spend the time and energy on in your busy high school life. At Enlighteens, we are dedicated to helping students through the application process, but we also strive to go beyond that and help them realize their long term goals. The further you dive into these activities, the more knowledge, transferrable skills, external feedback, and opportunities you will get out of them.

After all, extracurricular activities are a way of contextualizing you as an individual person on your application, and there is simply no way to show that if you do not engage with yourself and your true passions. So, instead of fretting about who you want to appear as on your college application, take a good, hard look at yourself, and take on the responsibility of shaping who you would like to become in real life.

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