Summer Goals and the College Admissions Game


(Quick note to Moms, Dads, and other primary care givers: I know you’ve said very similar things to your kids. They won’t believe it coming from you, duh. So print this out and leave it on their pillows. The third-party approach sometimes works like a charm ;-))

The most important element in today’s college admissions game is passion. Demonstrable passion. Anyone can CLAIM passion about his or her interests, but picture admissions committee as one giant D.A. from Lily Tomlin and company’s awesome kids’ show The Magic School Bus, running around with a clipboard demanding, “PROVE IT.”

The way you prove passion on applications is being able in good conscience to report hours and hours of time on task. Most applications, including the CommonApp, REQUIRE you to list the number of weeks per year and hours per week you are engaged in your most meaningful activities. Summertime is your biggest block of discretionary time, and how you choose to spend it speaks volumes about who you are. Don’t squander the opportunity. You have Dr. Yo’s permission to sleep in till noon for ONE WEEK after your last final or standardized test. Then it’s up and at something, junior!

I’m a great believer in goal setting in general. After all, if you don’t know where you’re heading, how will you know when you get there? See, for example, A1 Tip for High School Success and College Admissions, Catch the Back-to-School Wave, and Dr. Yo’s 6 Tips for September Goal Setting.

If you want to make a change in your life, if you want to develop a new habit, if you want to pursue and be able to demonstrate your passion for something, it really is simple: carve out a chunk of time every single day and DO IT! Right now, open a document and type a list of things you want to do before school starts next fall; places you want to go; people you want to see; goals you want to accomplish. Hurry! It’s June 18! (Among the things you should consider doing with your time is a CollegePrepExpress Smart Summer Session; I hear they’re excellent. Like, if you’re taking Precalc next year, take the 5-day PRECALC PREVIEW. Brilliant. ;-))

Perhaps no time is a good as the summertime for developing and pursuing passion. From summer flings to championship level athletics, from learning how to code that killer game you’ve been dreaming up to finally painting en plein air like the Impressionists the way you’ve long imagined, you have the time to explore your interests and develop a passion. Let your freak flag fly (ok, if your crazy starts showing too much, you might want to tuck that back in). The idea is to take a step in the direction of who you really are by throwing down with SOMETHING. Maybe you’ll discover what you don’t love this summer, and that’s okay too. You tried. You took a risk. They like that, and it’s good for you to be ALL IN.

Many parents and ambitious teens want to know, yeah, but what’s the BEST thing to do during the summer vacation to impress admissions committees. The answer is…I hope you’re listening…THERE IS NO BEST THING.

It’s a classic example of it’s-not-WHAT-you-do-but-HOW-you-do-it that matters. Find something. Anything. And pursue it with passion. Like you actually LOVE it, cuz you do. Video games don’t count, unless you’re coding.


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The primary purpose of CollegePrepExpress, LLC is to help students get into their top secondary schools, colleges, and graduate schools and to reduce stress surrounding the entire admissions process.

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