A parent recently asked me whether her son should pursue an internship or make a film during the summer after his junior year in high school. Of course, what she really meant was “What does a college want my son to do this summer?” She wasn’t happy when I answered with this question: “What does your son want to do?”
If you have been reading my blog, you know that I can’t support seeking out activities for the sole purpose of impressing a college admissions committee. I am passionate about the pursuit of activities that will further demonstrate who you are and what grabs your interest as a student of visual or performing arts.
My advice is to seek out opportunities that will help you to further define your area of interest. Are you a filmmaker or screenwriter? Look for a local non-profit who could benefit from a short film highlighting their work in your community. Are you interested in photography? Offer to help your classmates who need to photograph their work for their portfolio. Here are a few more suggestions of ways to spend the summer after your junior year in high school:
1. Take a course in an area of the arts that you haven’t tried yet. This is an opportunity to push the boundaries of what you know and explore how you respond to the challenge of trying something you might not be good at.
2. Decide now if you want to attend a particular summer program. Research the programs online and determine whether you are able to travel or need to stay closer to home.
3. Start working on your portfolio. What I mean by that is conceive, create and produce! Even if you aren’t certain that the program you will apply to requires a portfolio or audition, organize your work as if you will need to present a concise snapshot of who you are. This exercise will help you to collect your most recent work and prepare to explain in your college application just what your are passionate about doing.
4. Start several college essays. Many schools will have prompts and topics online during the summer. Once you begin the process of writing about yourself and your work, the big job of applying to college will have just gotten easier.
If you are among the fortunate students who are able to take advantage of a college-level program for high school students, don’t wait to research programs in your area. The registration deadlines for these pre-college programs are coming up and are often as early as February.
If you are interested in particular schools, locations or programs, send me an email and I will provide a few suggestions for you.