According to, the United States has experienced its warmest winter on record. This has us thinking ahead to our student’s plans for their approaching respite from academia before diving into college apps: summer vacation.

Every year we hear from parents seeking our input on what their children should do during summer vacation to “make their applications look better” or to make them a “stronger applicant.” While it’s true that the summer months are a great time to do SOMETHING, the question is whether what that something is really matters on your college applications.

Is a student who’s participated in a one-month robotics camp at a hot shot university more impressive to admission folks than the one who worked 40 hours a week scooping ice cream during their break? Or how about the student who joins their family on a month long backpacking trip through Europe versus one who volunteers at a local assisted living center reading to the residents each day? In a head-to-head battle for that coveted last spot in the freshman class, which of these summer choices could be the one to seal the deal on getting the fat envelope?

The answer? It depends.

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