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Summer camp could help college admissions odds


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

One of the best ways to be a competitive candidate in the college search process is to submit a well-rounded application, boasting solid grades, impressive test scores and plenty of extracurricular activities. However, being involved in clubs and sports teams during the academic year might not be enough. Many colleges want to see what students do with their free time – time not dictated by a school schedule. They want to know what you did over your summer vacation, and the answer, "I went to camp," might just pique an admissions officer's interest.

Make the most of free time
Why summer camp? According to CNBC, admissions officers want to see what students do with their free time, as this provides a glimpse into their passions and work ethic as well as the talents and personality traits they will bring to the college campus.

It is not enough to attend a traditional camp, however. The real distinction comes when students spend time in a specialized program, preferably one that deals with academic or cultural topics. For example, if an individual attends a music camp, the admission officer might conclude that the student would bring this interest to college, and thereby contribute to the diversity and culture of an academic community.

Students who attend summer camps or programs on college campuses might have an added advantage. This situation can provide students with a taste of college life, from navigating a large campus to living in a dorm, and it may make the transition to college life easier in the long run.

Standing out from the crowd
Camp experiences can also help students round out their high school transcript, especially if the academics are less than stellar.

"By being stronger on the extracurricular activities, you can actually make up somewhat for weaknesses academically," Mark Kantrowitz, the senior vice president at Edvisors Network, told CNBC. "Not everyone is going to yield a benefit, but it's something that distinguishes you."

Similarly, any individual who returned to a camp as a counselor or had some kind of leadership role could point to this as an example of their skills and personal qualities. There may even be camp experiences that act as inspiration for a personal essay, allowing students to expound upon how they spent their summer vacations.

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