From college counselors recommending part-time jobs at a grocery stores to parents pushing programs on college campuses, rising seniors at University Prep are encouraged to spend their summer doing something productive.
This year, however, students are challenged with meeting those expectations while in a global pandemic.
Director of College Counseling Kelly Herrington and Associate Director Britten Nelson guide students through the college process and help them make decisions about their futures.
“Colleges don’t care what you do. They’re more concerned with why you do it … and what you learned and gained as a result,” Herrington said.
For rising seniors, it is important to not only use the summer to relax, but also to bolster one’s resume prior to applying to college.
“I think that we should make sure that the students are either getting a job or an internship,” Nelson said.
Nelson and Herrington don’t think students should spend their entire summer preparing for the next school year, but stated that it’s important to balance fun with productive activities.
“Some students really crave a structured summer. Some are done. And I always say, ‘Students, listen to yourself, know thyself,’” Herrington said. “Colleges do understand that students need downtime, and they’re worried about students coming to campus just fried to a crisp.”
This year, students have had to change their summer plans due to COVID-19. Camps were canceled, businesses have closed and internships are in limbo until the stay-at-home order is fully lifted.
“All of my summer plans have been canceled. I was really looking forward to a program at Brown [University] over the summer, which was canceled,” junior Aidan McHugh said. “Also, now I need to spend a good portion of the summer studying for the SAT and the ACT again because the tests I was supposed to take were canceled.”
Like McHugh, many students had planned summer breaks. With the mass closures and cancellations, however, students are now required to adjust their schedules.
“I think a lot of colleges are going to ask students, ‘How did you spend your COVID-19 summer? What did you do while you were trapped at home?’” Nelson said. “I think it’s really important that students find ways to be creative during this time.”