Unique Summer Activities That Can Strengthen Your College Application

Today’s article was written by David White.

As the cost of college continues to rise and admissions get more and more competitive, many students find themselves looking for ways to strengthen their application and make it standout. As students, your time is limited and your attention should be primarily focused on your studies, which is why summer is your best opportunity to engage in a variety of activities that can make you an attractive candidate to the school of your choice.

The most obvious choice for productively using your summer would be to work or intern, both of which can help your chances of getting accepted to college. However, these are both increasingly common uses of summer vacation and there’s no guarantee that they’ll strengthen your application. That said, consider also looking for an opportunity in one of the following areas.

Volunteer in your intended field of study

You probably don’t quite know what your college major will be, but you more than likely have some interests and ideas of where you might be headed. This is a great place to start when it comes to looking for the right volunteer job for the summer.

You might be wondering what makes a volunteer position different from an internship. The answer has to do with what you’ll be receiving in return for your service, which in this case is nothing. A volunteer is someone who gives their time, expertise, or skills to support a social or non-profit organization. An intern, on the other hand, is someone who receives credit or pay for their services. The difference is subtle, but important.

Internships are heavily arranged, often by a school, and are intended to advance your experience with a particular subject. Participating in an internship might even be expected of you while you’re enrolled in classes. In simple terms, these could appear less impressive because you’re expected to do them. Conversely, volunteering in a field of interest can show a particular dedication, not only to your academic interests, but also to your community.


Although it might be cost prohibitive for some people, traveling can be a great way to expand your understanding of the world and of different cultures, both of which can make you a more attractive candidate for admissions.

Exploring new cultures and environments can be excellent material for a college essay and to demonstrate your ability to adapt while acting on your curiosity. In the event that you can’t afford to travel, consider applying to one of the many programs that will cover the cost of the travel in exchange for community service.

Strengthen your language skills

Traveling and volunteering can be great, but both require a considerable time commitment and money to successfully achieve your objective. Fortunately, there are ways to be an attractive candidate without spending a lot of money or giving up your entire summer.

If you’re looking for something that’s less of a commitment, consider acquiring or strengthening your second language skills. Although it’s less important than it once was, proficiency with a second language can still make you a strong candidate, as it demonstrates a commitment to your education and to becoming a better-rounded student.

If you have a budget, consider looking into some of the free apps for your phone or computer that you can use any time to help you with these skills.


If you’re looking for a truly unique opportunity to strengthen your college application, a great way is through entrepreneurship. Technically, an entrepreneur is a person that starts or runs a business, which is something that takes a little longer than a summer. There are, however, ways you can build entrepreneurial skills and contribute something to your community.

If, for example, you are interested in computer engineering or design and have developed some coding skills, you might be able to use those skills to develop a new app or program that could launch a career in the tech field. If you’re more interested in nonprofit work, you could reach out to an area agency or business and offer to create some software or application to advance their mission.

Academic enrichment

When it comes to summer vacation, taking extra classes probably doesn’t sound very attractive. Yet academic enrichment can demonstrate to potential colleges that you are serious about your education and passionate about a particular subject.

If you’re interested in one of the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, there are many different summer programs available that can expand your knowledge and widen your social circle. Moreover, many of these programs require going through the application process and can be very competitive. In light of that, these opportunities not only demonstrate a commitment to building your skills, but being accepted into a prestigious program can also be very impressive and help you to stand out against other applications.


David White is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world’s largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.