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Colleges Know What You Did Last Summer
By: Bill McCumber
Admissions professionals are often asked by anxious parents about summer activities and how these will be viewed by college
admissions offices. I recently had a conversation with a mother who, checklist in hand, wanted to know if her son needs to practice
tennis five or seven times a week in order to look attractive to colleges. Her son likes tennis, but she is worried that he won't look as
committed to the sport if he only practices five days a week. After all, he has to practice after dinner because, if tennis is just for
'fun', he needs to put his SAT prep course, his summer course in statistics, his internship at Southwest Medical Center, his piano
lessons, college visits, and an immersion trip to Spain into his summer programming. She is only slightly concerned that he will not
have much time for fun and relaxation before school starts again, since he can have fun after college.
The other end of the spectrum is the parent who suddenly realizes that his children are no longer getting on the bus everyday to
school, that it's warm outside, and his kids seem to sleeping until mid morning. Now what? Those kids need to do something, and
what will the colleges think if Sam just lists "Video Games" under "extra-curricular activities" on the application?
Over-programming and under-programming are both problems, not just for college admission purposes, but because of simple child
development reasons. But lets focus on the college admissions issue here.
College admissions offices very much like to admit an interesting student, as opposed to a formulaic statistic comprised of SAT or
ACT scores and a GPA. Summer activities can, just like admission essays, recommendations, school activities, and interviews,
highlight what makes a young person "tick" and will