How Summer Experiences Craft College Essays

It’s really not that hard.

Step one: Lead off the essay with the most interesting/impactful thing you have ever done or will do. Example: “Years from now I will save people’s lives every week, every day, every hour – perhaps even your life.”

Step two: Make sense of your lead sentence. Example: “At ___________ I plan to study engineering and ultimately launch a career, specializing in automobile safety."

Step three: Tell the reader why this was/is important to your growth as a person and student. Write about how this has/will affect you, the people around you or even the world.

You’re probably asking: What if I don’t know what I want to major in? What if I don’t have anything interesting to say? What if I’m just your average high school kid?

Companies are cropping up that help high school students plan summer excursions to bulk up their college application, giving them something to write about in their essay, according to an article in the New York Times.

One of these companies, Everything Summer, helped a recent high school grad, Josh Isackson, plan a trip to China after his sophomore year of high school. Isackson studied Mandarin and later interned for a market research firm in Shanghai.

In his college application essay, Isackson wrote about exploring the ancient tombs of the Ming dynasty in the Purple Mountain region of Nanjing, “trading jokes with long-dead Ming Emperors, stringing my string hammock between two plum trees and calmly sipping fresh green tea while watching the sun set on the horizon,” according to the New York Times.

“Students are planning their summer experiences to augment who they are and discover who they are, and that absolutely helps the college process,” said Jill Tipograph, founder of Everything Summer.

Everything Summer and other similar companies are helping students stand out on the college essay. A great essay is a must, especially for students that don’t have straight A’s, great standardized test scores and loads of community service activities.

But these exotic excursions can be very, very expensive, especially when most high school kids plan to spend their summers earning money for college expenses.

The lazy days of summer might be long gone, and high school students need to do something constructive over the summer to look more educated, cultured, mature and passionate.

You don’t have to travel to foreign countries to find something to write about. You could spend a few summer days job shadowing professionals in fields you’re considering, learning to play an exotic instrument, joining a community service organization, volunteering for a cause, creating a cool website/blog about something, anything, etc.

You just have to do something or plan to do something interesting enough to impress a college administrator. And yes you get bonus points if it’s something no one else did.