Even exploring nature is a great way to spend a summer.
Even exploring nature is a great way to spend a summer.

One thing on the mind of many high school students is what to do to be more ready for college, or “how to look good” for college. (Or if you aren’t thinking about it yet, maybe you should!)

If you want to do something productive with your summers in order to “look good” for colleges, here are my top 10 tips for what I recommend to teens thinking about being a college-bound TCK or international student:

1. Read books for fun. Then think about them and read some more just because! Why?  For one thing, it’s fun. It will also expand your world. And your vocabulary! Students that do well on the SAT and ACT exams in Critical Reading and Writing are usually also the kids that like to read. Funny how that works.

Furthermore, some college essay supplemental questions, or college interview questions, might ask you to talk about a book you recently read that wasn’t assigned reading. What are colleges looking for? They are looking for intellectual curiosity. So if you haven’t read a book lately, it’s going to be hard to fake it!

2. Go to see some colleges to get an idea of the variety of schools out there – state vs public, city vs rural or suburban, big vs small, co-ed vs single sex (and girls, look seriously at all-women’s colleges!). I have written a blog that might be helpful on what to look for in a college.

3. Get a job. Even babysitting or mowing lawns can be impressive if it causes you to be reflective about your life and the lives of others.

4. Volunteer. Find something bigger than yourself to get involved in.

5. Start prepping for the SAT or ACT. Little by little one can prepare – these are not tests that you can cram for. At the very least, sign up for the SAT Question of the Day .

6. If you really want to do a summer program, explore a special academic or career interest. Find out if that’s really what you love to do before you invest a lot of time and money into pursuing that as a course of study.

7. Explore summer camp, or maybe be a camp counselor. The NY Times did a great article last year on the “wow” factor of being a camp counselor.

8. If you want an athletic scholarship, do a summer athletic camp. You will want a venue where you can be showcased and people will take notice.

9. If you do enroll in a summer program, do it for the benefits of what you will learn and the exposure to new and different things. Don’t do it to “look good” for colleges.

10. Try to reconnect with extended family and friends in the States if you come back. It’s good to know your roots and just touch base when you can.

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