Do Summer Activities Matter in College Admission?

James G. NondorfJames G. Nondorf
Vice President of Enrollment and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid
University of Chicago

Admission counselors love to hear about the activities you’ve found engaging over the summer, but there aren’t any particular activities we look for on applications. Some students get a lot of value out of travel and volunteering; others might be working at a local café to save money for college, or putting in hours on the family farm. We realize that a variety of options are available to each of you—what we love hear about is how you’ve learned from the experiences you’ve had and how you’ve grown, both as a student and as a person.

William T. ConleyWilliam T. Conley
Dean of Enrollment & Academic Services
Johns Hopkins University
It's easy for admission officers to account for your activities between 8:00 am and 3:00 pm on weekdays during the school year. Your high school transcript takes care of that. However, we are very interested in what you do outside the classroom, during the academic year and summer. We do not have a preference for sports, arts, work, community service, or scouting. However, we do question when there is little accounting for your time outside the classroom.  Summers should be productive but that does not mean taking more classes is better than working at the snow cone stand. We are looking for active, engaged students. Taking the summer off suggests you will be more likely to be less involved in college as well.

CounselorNancy G. McDuff
Associate Vice President for Admissions and Enrollment Management

The University of Georgia

Many will look at what you have done during the summers to see if you have a passion for an area. Learn how to put your best face forward with your summer activities by keeping a journal of your activities.  The stories, impressions, thoughts and ideas that you write down may be the best beginnings of your essays and application explanations.

Cyndy McDonaldCyndy McDonald
Founder
Higher Educational Consultants Association (HECA)

Yes, as long as it is a productive and contributing summer activity. Skateboarding with friends or hitting the top score on an online game do not count as productive summer activities.

Jeannie Borin, MEdJeannie Borin, MEd
President and Founder
College Connections
A resounding yes to this question. Admission officers want to gain as much insight on applicants as possible. The activity page of the application gives students an opportunity to describe interests and activities that do not appear on their transcripts. It is important to list the quality of activities and not the quantity. Focus on continuity and depth of your involvement. Do list your part in the activity rather than writing a description of the club or organization where you are involved. Be concise and clear, and mind any required word or character counts that appear on the application.

Mike GuntherMike Gunther
Program Manager for Recruitment 
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Absolutely! Admission counselors love to hear about your summer activities. Having a summer experience on a college campus along with your other life experiences will help paint the picture of how great you are and why a college should admit you.

Learn what else you should include on your college applications in our Ask the Experts - College Admission section. 

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