This is a guest blog post written by our friends at Admitster. They work to help level the college admissions playing field by guiding students and parents through the complex world of college admissions, offering free online tools and affordable advising and tutoring services along the way.We encourage you to learn more about Admitster and check out the original post!

One of the admissions trends highlighted in Harvard’s Turning The Tide report is that colleges are increasingly looking for students who have “real world” experiences, such as those who have pursued internships, interesting summer opportunities, and engagement with volunteer programs that have challenged them and fostered in them a greater sense of self-understanding and worldly awareness. Colleges are also increasingly valuing students who have an abundance of experience in a particular activity. In other words, you don’t need to fill in all 10 boxes in the Common App’s activity section in order to demonstrate involvement.

Admissions officials would rather that you seek out fewer, but more meaningful, opportunities. We often refer to these types of sustained, real-world experiences that promote personal and intellectual growth as demonstrating depth over breadth.

Here are some examples of opportunities that will help you to establish some depth of experience, but be aware that many of them require immediate action!

Job Shadowing:

One way to show your interest in a field (for example, medicine) is to look for either programs or opportunities that allow you to shadow a professional, getting a good sense of what they do on a daily basis simply by being at their side. Arranging a job shadowing opportunity can be as simple as contacting someone you know. For instance, if you’re an athlete who has had surgery, reach out to those doctors and therapists who have helped you. Furthermore, many local hospitals, like Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital, have specific job shadowing programs available. Do some research to find similar programs at organizations in your local area – it’s a super experience!


Community Internships:

Check out museums, local governments, schools, and non-profit organizations for internship opportunities. Many have established formal summer programs for high school students. Furthermore, oftentimes an education or program director is willing customize an opportunity for a bright and motivated student, so don’t be shy about reaching out to these individuals. You can also look into programs like United Way’s Youth Venture for opportunities to create a community service program of your own, and get funding along the way!

Summer Programs:

There are many excellent summer programs out there, many of which are hosted by colleges and universities that can help you to explore an interest in greater depth, for instance, taking college-level coursework in your potential major. Are you looking for an experience in the arts? Consider Skidmore College’s Summer Program. Perhaps you’re interested in visiting a major city and studying journalism or urban studies? Check out George Washington University‘s pre-college program in our nation’s capital. Would you consider taking math and science classes at a prestigious university? Johns Hopkins Program for Talented Youth offers courses and programs in engineering, computer science, and biology, to name but a few examples. The point is that there are many programs to explore, and at schools both local to you and further afield. However, the applications are due soon! Admitster’s admissions experts can help you to find great-fit programs and to prepare those applications!

Immersion & Service Learning:

Many students are interested in world languages and may be curious to explore travel opportunities during the summer months. Study abroad experiences are a great way to move beyond comfort zones and be exposed to new cultures! The good news is there are many language-based programs that use service learning to help high school students have meaningful experiences abroad. For instance, Amigos is a program that connects environmentalism, volunteering, and immersion language learning, and they are accepting applications now!

The bottom line is that you should cast a wide net when considering different summer opportunities, drawing on resources in your local community, using personal connections, and exploring summer programs geared towards high school students. Beyond doing your research, you should also be organized and ensure that you meet deadlines and other program requirements. In fact, researching and applying to these types of programs is great practice for employing skills that you’ll use when applying to college. All in all, engaging in meaningful summer experiences will help you to both develop as a person, exploring your interests and passions, and will also be rewarding when the time comes to apply to your top-choice schools!