Preparing to head off to college soon? Then this summer holiday is just the right time to get started to learn about the various procedures and to gather information about the course you are preparing to pursue and the college you are hoping to enrol into. To begin with start delving into the university website to further understand the subjects you will be studying, and familiarise yourself with the various facilities available on campus. If required this can be followed up with a summer program.
Pre-college summer programs can be very exciting as it will be your first taste of college – eating in dining halls, taking classes, living in dorms and meeting new people. In addition you could study some courses which will offer credit once you join college. Not only do students get to meet and attend lectures from college professors and visiting faculty they also engage with alumni and participate in social activities. It is a great opportunity to make new friends and build relationships with mentors.
Summer programs normally range from one to seven weeks and are offered by a host of universities including the Ivy League, liberal arts colleges and public universities.
While some programs are open to all, others require you to qualify. The latter are more select and typically require teacher recommendations, application essays, and standardised test scores. As these programs are not cheap and with such a plethora of choices, select a summer program which adds value to your CV.
Review the quality of instruction, social engagement, class environment, scholarship opportunities and the approach to teaching before signing up. Some of the popular universities offering these programs would include UCLA, John Hopkins, Columbia, NYU, Rhode Island, Skidmore College and Carnegie Mellon.
The summer program you select will depend on your interests and subjects you plan to study in college. This could range from robotics, artificial intelligence, coding, astronomy, to sciences, business, entertainment and media or digital marketing. You could also attend a program which has a combination of different subjects providing you an opportunity to understand various disciplines.
It would be wise to use the holidays to browse the college website and find out courses you can register for upfront. For others you may need to wait for orientation. In the event the classes fill up or should you be required to do some reading before attending the class early registration would help.
Discuss the subjects you intend to study with your academic counsellor and, if required, your professor, before signing up. While choosing your classes bear in mind to take a balanced load and a schedule that provides adequate time between classes.
You should prepare a list of books that will be required for the first semester. These can be bought or borrowed and I am sure there will be an app that will compare costs and help you with your decision.
As a freshman, you shall in all probability share a room with another person. The thought of sharing 200 square feet with a complete stranger may be daunting but the experience can be great fun provided you plan properly. Some colleges have an online roommate finder wherein you could connect with someone with similar interests and similar background. Connecting with your roommate and other students before joining college is a good way to understand each other and it further strengthens the bond of friendship.
An internship or summer job is an extremely productive way to spend the summer. Exposure to a work place will provide you confidence and insight into problems which come only from real life experience. The references you get from industry specialists and the networking opportunities with likeminded people will also further your career prospects.
Community work/online presence
Volunteering work or community service could be another activity you could participate in and it will make your CV even more robust. It is also a testament on your commitment to society and social responsibility which will always be looked upon favourably in the future.
While I am sure you, like the rest of your generation, already have a strong social media presence it is important you start participating in professional networking sites like LinkedIn. To display your creative side you could write blogs in a specific area of your interest or just plain travel diaries.
Learn a foreign language
Studying a foreign language is a great activity to pursue and can also be loads of fun. In addition to the typical Spanish, French or Italian think of something more exotic like studying Mandarin. We all agree to the increasing importance of Chinese economy in the future so if possible travel to China and get immersed to study their language and culture.
Finish with an internship in a local company. Not only will this will be an unforgettable few weeks the experience will differentiate you from your peers when looking for a job or applying for second degree.
Summer has always been the time to catch up on your reading and it need not be anything to do with your course in college. Books will expand your horizon, make you think, appreciate history, help develop your personality and provide a unique level of satisfaction that nothing else can.
Stay up to date
In addition to reading make sure you are on top of the news and contemporary events as this will definitely crop up in class and with your friends. You will be expected to voice an opinion on the current affairs and for that regular reading of daily affairs and international news is mandatory. Discussions and debates are an integral feature of college life and active participation is strongly recommended for both social and academic headway.
Don’t forget to chill out
Whether you want to admit it or not, you will miss things you are familiar with and take for granted from your favorite café, to your friends to you parents and family. Spend quality time with each of them as there may not be many more opportunities to do so.
Finally, no summer holiday is complete without travelling to new places. It could be a trek to the mountains or travel through various countries. You could do it alone or with friends. Either way it should be an unforgettable experience etched in your memory for years to come.
Travel is the best way to understand other cultures and different points of view, appreciate history and architecture, make new friends and experience new cuisines.
Sanjeev Verma is managing director of Intelligent Partners, a leading education consultancy in Dubai.