Summer Vacation and College Admissions: Sand and Sun or Schooling?

The days are getting warmer and longer and the beach is beckoning.  But looming in the background is the challenge of college admissions with its seemingly endless demands for scholarship and social purpose clouding the summer’s promise. What to do; what to do?

First, you are still a kid and you have many developmental and character-related issues that probably need some attention so you should provide a little time over the summer to address them.  Colleges seem to like kids who are comfortable in their own skin.

Second, have fun!  Summer is after all, a vacation so take one.  Do things that you enjoy and that make you happy.  You have the rest of your life to be grim and over-loaded with responsibilities.  It’s OK to simply be a kid.  Most adults will agree on one thing…Adulthood is vastly over-rated so take your time.

Third, the college admission decision is not likely to depend upon taking an extra course or attending an academic program merely to add another seemingly impressive line on your résumé.  To do that at the cost of missing two months of your one-time-only adolescence could be a misguided, somewhat foolish trade-off.

Fourth, since one solid predictor of college success is evidence of an independent living experience, those students facing a summer of indecision would be well-advised to try a few weeks away from home to test the waters of independence.  As a general rule, such an experience may be a more important admissions and eventual college success factor than yet another period of seat time in a formal schooling setting.

Fifth, while it is OK to spend time and money on a grand tour of far-away colleges, there may be better ways to spend your summer.  Colleges are people, not buildings and visitors to college during the summer are essentially taking an architectural tour since few if any of the college’s usual students are on campus.  So while you will learn what the place looks like, you won’t acquire much useful information about what it feels like to be a student attending the college other than what the somewhat conflicted admissions people want you to know about the place.  Save your money for a much more important encounter later on, your visit as an accepted student at the college.  It is money exponentially better spent.

In short, go out and get some sun and don’t forget the sun screen.  Get some exercise and have fun.  A day at the beach or the lake are wonders that shouldn’t be missed but before you go, it might be a good idea to look at the reading requirements for next year’s English class so you can do some leisurely advanced reading for the next academic year while getting a few rays.  Reading Jane Austen may be tough but it is a lot more palatable on a beach chair or boat dock than at a library or home study desk.

Life itself is full of challenges and a variety of experiences.  You are not always in control of what you can do and what you can’t.  The clock is ticking a bit on the time in your life when you have lots of freedom of choice because as you get older the “gotta dos” begin to control your life and invade your “wanna do” space.  A summer vacation as a high school or even college student is a time to do those things that make you a more complete person.  So take advantage of the moment and check out the world in the absence of school and classes.  You will find it to be a pretty interesting place and the more you know about it the more interesting person you are likely to become.

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