What summer experiences do colleges want?

Colleges typically look for summer experiences that demonstrate a student’s intellectual curiosity, engagement, and initiative. The following types of summer/holiday experiences are often considered meaningful to colleges:

  1. Research or internship programs:
    Participating in a research or internship program in a field related to your intended major can demonstrate your dedication to your academic interests and your ability to work independently.
    For example,
    • Conducting research in a science or engineering lab at a local university or research institution
    • Participating in an internship at a law firm, non-profit organization, or government agency
    • Working as a research assistant for a professor or graduate student in a subject area that interests you
  2. Volunteer work:
    Engaging in volunteer work, especially in areas related to your interests or future career goals, can demonstrate your commitment to serving others and making a positive impact in your community.
    For example,
    • Volunteering with a local NGO or community organization that focuses on issues you are passionate about, such as education, women’s rights, or environmental conservation
    • Helping out at a school for underprivileged children or children with disabilities
    • Participating in a community service project, such as a clean-up drive or a health camp, in your local community
  3. Travel and cultural immersion: Traveling to different parts of the world and immersing yourself in new cultures can help you develop a global perspective and a broader understanding of different people and ways of life.
    For example,
    • Participating in a study abroad program to learn a new language or immerse yourself in a different culture such as learning about Buddhist culture in Ladakh
    • Backpacking through a different region of India to gain a broader perspective or a foreign country to gain a global perspective and learn about different ways of life
    • Spending a summer volunteering or working in a different part of India to gain regional experience and develop intercultural skills
  4. Entrepreneurial ventures: Starting your own business or creating a project can demonstrate your creativity, innovation, and leadership skills.
    For example,
    • Starting a small business, such as a pet care service or tutoring business or a digital marketing agency to gain experience as an entrepreneur
    • Creating a website or app to solve a problem or fill a gap in the market, such as an app to connect farmers with buyers or a website to help people find local artisans and handicrafts
    • Launching a social enterprise that addresses a social or environmental issue, such as a project to provide clean drinking water to rural communities or a venture that supports women’s empowerment and economic development
  5. Enrichment programs: Participating in academic enrichment programs or summer courses can demonstrate your academic prowess and your willingness to challenge yourself.
    For example,
    • Participating in a summer program at a top university, such as Ashoka or Stanford, to gain exposure to college-level coursework
    • Attending a summer music or art program to develop your creative skills, such as a program at the National School of Drama or the Indian Council for Cultural Relations
    • Enrolling in an online course or workshop to learn a new skill, such as coding or public speaking, through platforms like Udemy or Coursera.

Ultimately, colleges are interested in seeing that you have used your summer in a meaningful way that aligns with your passions and goals, and that you have developed skills and experiences that will prepare you for college and beyond.