College Admissions: 5 Great Summer Ideas for Teens

Monday, April 11, 2011


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Summer is almost here, and many high school students are still floundering, wondering what they will do. Sadly, jobs are hard to find. Nevertheless, colleges expect applicants to be busy and productive in the summer. So, what other options are there? MANY! Teens can volunteer, travel, take AP courses, learn a new sport or participate in the arts. The key is to do whatever you enjoy most and have a passion for.

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For those with wanderlust, Rustic Pathways has programs that combine travel and community service.

From Costa Rica to South Africa or Thailand, whether you want to work with endangered elephants or teach children in an orphanage, there is a program for you at this organization. If Europe is more your speed, try a language or cultural immersion program through Oxbridge or Abbey Road.

Have you been locked out of AP courses at your high school?

Are you behind in math compared to other students in your class? If so, summer is a great opportunity to catch up. The latest and greatest way to take courses is now online.  Accredited institutions like the University of Miami’s Global Academy offer a variety of courses over the Internet (including AP), supported by teachers. Boarding schools like Phillips Academy also offer summer sessions, and many colleges like Brown University offer day and overnight programs for high school students. Check with your guidance office to see what courses will transfer to your school transcript for credit, but even if they don’t, you can put them on your college application!

Soccer, tennis, basketball, golf, field hockey!

Whether you are a novice or advanced athlete, Nike has a camp for most sports and every level player. How about learning to row or sail? Last month, we talked about how even novice rowers and sailors are in demand on college

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teams and glean impressive scholarship money. So, why not learn a new sport this summer? The URI Women’s Rowing Team is holding camps for students ages 12-18, and the cost is just $250 per week, and the Community Boating Center in Providence offers low cost sailing lessons for all ages.

Do you love painting, playing an instrument, acting or dancing?

If so, there are an abundance of summer offerings that will allow you to improve your skills and even prepare a portfolio or audition material for colleges. Interlochen in Michigan is famous for their summer programs. If your budget doesn’t allow for that large an expense, check your local philharmonic or repertory groups. In Rhode Island, Trinity Rep offers summer theater programs, RIC offers a wonderful music institute, and RISD offers an array of fine arts courses.

No-cost summer opportunities for learning and community service are also nearby and easy to find.

Do you like to spend your days outdoors in the sunshine near the ocean? Save the Bay is looking for volunteers to help maintain our picturesque coastline and teach younger kids about marine life.  Are you a science, art or history buff? Museums from Providence to Newport need teens to help out during the busy summer months. Do you love giving manicures and coiffing hair? Nursing homes want helpers to brighten the day for elderly residents with some pampering. For more volunteer positions, check out

Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC which provides strategic, college counseling and athletic recruiting services for students.

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