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Great! But there’s one more piece to the three-part summer puzzle. You’ve also got to channel the knowledge and skills that you learn into something productive. Not just on a personal level, but at a community level. In other words, personal growth is important, but trying to make an impact in your community, no matter how large or small, is even MORE important.
If you can demonstrate that you are thoughtful, capable of processing the world around you, and eager to engage or giveback, you will present a killer combination of brainpower plus a strong moral compass that top tier colleges are looking for in an application.
Tap Into Your Strengths
So, you want to make an impact, but you’re not sure where to begin. Start by thinking about what you’re passionate about. Is there a particular issue in your school or community that you’ve always wanted to address? Or is there a talent or skill that you have that you would love to share? Maybe you’ve been hailed as a great writer by all of your English teachers. Why not tutor younger at risk students or those who speak English as a second language? Maybe you’re an incredible musician. How about volunteering to play classical music at the local hospital or nursing home? Or maybe you’re an all-star athlete. How rewarding would it be to teach the next generation of stars at a local summer camp? There are countless examples of ways you can take personal growth and turn it into something that benefits the community as a whole.
See It Through
We’ve written about about how important follow through is in length. After spending the summer volunteering at a local soccer camp, organizing concerts at the hospital or tutoring ESL students at the local elementary school, don’t just throw in the towel. Of course, when school starts back up again you won’t have as much free time to devote to these engagements as you did over the summer, but don’t quit entirely. Even if it’s just once a week, once a month, or even less, find a way to continue with the project in some way.
Making an “impact” doesn’t happen overnight, or even in the course of three summer months. So challenge yourself to make time for your community. If you chose something that aligns with your goals or interests, the motivation to push forward will grow automatically.
With hobbies and extracurriculars in general, if it looks like you’re pursuing these just to tick a box on your college applications, it won’t weigh much, and it may even end up counting against you. The key is to introspect, find something that stirs within you, and marry that unrest with something productive within your community.