The Value of Pre-College Summer Experiences

Jill visits a college campus.

Jill visits a college campus.

Pre-college summers present an invaluable opportunity for high-school students. During the summer, students get an escape from the demands of their high-school curriculum and extracurricular obligations. They have the opportunity to explore areas of interest beyond the classroom. They can get a taste of life on a college campus or life in another country. They can rise to the demands of college-level coursework, and learn to be leaders who will shape their generation.

Pre-college summers help teens grow into successful, independent young adults who can thrive in college and beyond.

The College Admissions Process

Summer experiences are a vitally important part of the college admissions process. The Common Application, Universal College Application, and college application supplements all ask for a student’s pre-college summer experiences and what was gained from them. Students who undertake meaningful summer experiences and can articulate their impact have a competitive advantage when the time comes to apply to college.

Everything Summer® surveyed admissions teams from the country’s most prestigious universities such as Colby College, Johns Hopkins University, University of Miami, University of Michigan, Rice University and Vassar College, and received nearly 50 responses. We collected insider information on which summer activities offer students the greatest value, and what to avoid when choosing a program. Jill also interviewed Danielle Toglia, George Washington University’s Regional Admissions Director. Read her valuable insights and tips.


Pre-college summers give students a real opportunity to pursue genuine interests in a way that is simply not feasible during the school year. From engineering to environmental studies, from medicine to journalism, from sculpture to scriptwriting – summer provides students with the chance to immerse themselves in their interests and gauge whether these interests can be cultivated into real, driving passions.

Pre-college summers can also help students make more informed decisions when it comes time to apply to college. A summer spent at a college can help them assess whether they want a larger school or a smaller campus. A successful summer course can help them decide to apply to the business school – or not! We help students use summer to learn about themselves and their interests, so they can make more informed decisions in the college process.

Independence & life skills

College success is about more than academic capability. While high-school students are more impressive than ever on paper, studies show that currently only about 40% of students who enroll at a 4-year college graduate in 4 years.

Pre-college summers help students transition to life in a university setting. Students who spend high-school summers learning to live in a group setting, to independently take care of themselves, and to navigate social relationships with their peers, get invaluable practice on the realities of college life. Pre-college summers help students grow as individuals, and this helps them to flourish – academically and socially – when they finally arrive on campus.