Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Summer Vacation

The summer is a great opporunity to do something enriching. Or something fun. Or something exciting.

But what should you fill your summers with if you want them to shine on your college applications?

I have two pieces of advice, one will be very very obvious, and the other, hopefully less so.

1. You should fill your summer with something you are passionate about.
2. You should find unique ways to express that passion.

Passion is really hard to fake. You can force yourself through math classes you don't want to take, you can cram history into your head until you're blue in the face, but the things that make your application stand out are the ones you are genuinely interested in.

So, first, pick what you love. Think very broadly. You don't have to love English Literature or Music Theory - if you're passionate about video games or skateboarding or fashion accessories, great. Find a way to turn that interest into a summer experience that stands out.

Let's take video games. Playing them all the time won't give you a lot to write home about. However, here are things you can do with that interest:

1. Video games and anthrology. Find a local professor who is working on researching how video games affect relationships, especially in countries with high levels of gaming like Korea or Japan. See if you can help with research or contribute to a paper. Bonus points for arranging a trip abroad that ties to your research.
2. The business of video games. Find an internship with a startup that designs and markets games.
3. The art of video games. See if you can work with a graphic designer or video game writer.

Basically what I'm getting at is this - you don't have to look for a way to subvert an interest or hobby into an academic or appropriate interest. Colleges love creativity. They also love people who are willing to go out of the realm of what "normal" high school students do.

So, find what you already love, and ask yourself - how can you go deeper? How can you learn more about it? If the answer isn't obvious, ask a parent. Or a guidance counselor, or a teacher. Or you can email me.