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            By Liz Jackson

In a few weeks, my friend Katie Schumacher, Associate Dean of Admissions at Marquette, and I will be doing a presentation for counselors at the annual IECA conference on the topic of extracurricular activities. One of the things we will be discussing in our presentation is what “counts” as an extracurricular activity to colleges. Students are often surprised to hear that colleges are impressed by part-time jobs, caring for younger siblings, or engaging in interesting hobbies, like game design. While these are not traditional extracurricular activities, they can take up a lot of time and teach you valuable skills and expose you to people you wouldn’t otherwise encounter. 

One thing Katie and I will speak about in our presentation, which I think is good advice as you begin to approach your summer plans, is that extracurricular activities are all about time–that is, how are you spending your time?  Of course, for high school students, much of your time is taken up by school and studying. But beyond that, you probably also dedicate time to things like sports, volunteering, seeing your friends, etc.  

Many students find that summer is their only opportunity to feel more fully in control of their time. With the absences of classes and the need to do homework, you might be able to get caught up on sleep or spend more time with friends and family, and hopefully you might have the chance to go on a trip. While colleges certainly appreciate that students need down-time, they also recognize that, with the extra time that comes from summer break also comes opportunities to do interesting things, like internships, research, service work, or even college applications! So it is important to use your extra time wisely and to consider ways that you can use the summer to deepen your extracurricular involvement. Maybe summer is the time to plan the cool club at school that you and your friends want to start. Maybe it’s a great time to try recording a podcast on a topic you love! Maybe you get a job at a day camp for little kids to earn some extra money. 

There is no magic trick to finding the “best” activities. In fact, the best activities are the ones that make you feel excited, engaged, and challenged to learn new things. But remember that summer is an opportunity to do the things you can’t or don’t have time for during the school year. And remember that time is finite–like it or not, summer is only a matter of weeks, so don’t let this opportunity slip away!

Need a little help figuring out what opportunities to try this summer?  I hope you will schedule a time to meet with a college counselor and talk about it! And if you are a junior, I hope you will join us at our summer college application boot camps! Not only are they pretty fun, but they help you get a huge head start on your college applications, leaving more time for meaningful things senior year!  Discount ends May 1, so sign up now!

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