How to Make Best Use of Summer

Here are the kinds of programs and activities that students can join during the summer. Every college will want to know how an applicant spent the last summer of high school! While no one can do all of these, every student should consider several of these options.

Academic Study: Students can take courses on college campuses, often for college credit, and experience university life. Some of these are based on the IB curriculum.

Enrichment Courses: Other courses are offered in fields which students enjoy.

Standardized Test Preparation: Intensive preparation for SAT and TOEFL tests

College Campus Visits and Interviews: There is no substitute for seeing the college with your own eyes before you apply, and summer vacation is the best time to visit overseas. Interviews can be arranged at colleges where students might later apply. (Please see below for information on two recommended companies.) Many Japanese universities sponsor Open Campus dates during the summer as well.

Travel: Students will broaden their experience and perspective. Travel may also be combined with one of the other opportunities listed here.

Community Service: Colleges are increasingly interested in how applicants plan to give back to their community or the larger world, considering the many advantages they have enjoyed in their lives.

Jobs and Internships: Whether or not a salary is paid, students will learn valuable life lessons of responsibility, punctuality, accountability, and service. They may also find a possible future career path.

Planning the Application Essay: This is a required component of every application, and in many cases it will mean the difference between admission and rejection. Students should begin planning and writing drafts of their essays as early as possible.

IB Extended Essay: IB Diploma candidates should complete as much of their research and writing as possible, including a complete first draft, by the end of the summer.

Two reputable agencies which plan and lead campus tours for high school students are:

College Visits ( organizes week-long college tours in various regions of the U.S. and Canada throughout the summer.

TS College Tours ( is run by the college counselor at Singapore American School and is designed specifically for international school students in Asia who are not familiar with North America.