Senior Strategies: What to Do for the Summer Before College

Amanda Orbuch
Amanda Orbuch

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The summer between senior year and college is an odd one. The notion of a college application, that drove and directed the summer plans of many students, is gone. But by and large, students are not entitled to the higher-level internships offered to college students. So what are you supposed to do with the summer before college? What’s next?

This leaves many students in the tricky situation of figuring out the “right” way to spend this limbo summer. While there is no one-size-fits-all correct summer plan, I’m going to highlight here one potential option that I think sets students up well for future summer internships, programs, and jobs, without sacrificing the fun of that final high school summer.

I’ll call it the Skillset Summer.

The Skillset Summer is, in essence, a process of pursuing several small, short-term endeavors throughout the summer in order to build up a viable skillset.

To explain this plan, I’m going to offer the case study of Emily, an 18-year-old student from San Francisco looking to figure out how she wants to spend the summer between her senior year and beginning school at the top college she’ll be attending. Emily thinks that she might be interested in computer science or economics (or both) and doesn’t know how to meaningfully exercise those passions.

Here’s my suggestion. 

Week 1: Coding Course

Code. Sleep. Repeat. (CSR) is a week-long camp taught by Stanford students wherein attendees will learn some fundamental principles of object-oriented computer design. This is a strong introduction for any STEM-oriented student to the world of software engineering, and is a lovely to build a skill that can be added to a resume and used as a talking point for later interviews. A coding camp like this is a great option.

Week 2: Explore SF with friends

Consider this a mental health week. For this week, Emily can spend her time connecting with the friends and city she’ll have to leave in the fall. For many students, this is an important part of getting ready for college.

Week 3: Excel Course

Many major cities offer short, intensive courses designed to help a student become excel proficient, an extremely marketable skill across majors and interests. Many major companies require Excel proficiency for their interns and employees, so this is a highly beneficial skill to develop, especially for someone who might be interested in the world of business. IF your city doesn’t offer this, look for an online course.

Week 4: Relax again.

See week 2.

Week 5: Negotiation Course

For any student looking to enter the workforce, you get a bonus. Learning how to productively and meaningfully communicate is a necessary skill that is often not intuitive. In a short course, students can gain the skills to negotiate, disagree with coworkers, and learn basics of persuasive speaking. This skill is highly transferrable across fields; and will prove useful whether you’re in the interview process or already have a position.


I could go on, but the point seems clear. Building a summer that allows for fun, travel, and emotional growth is one thing. Doing all that while still developing meaningful skills that a student can speak to in any behavioral or technical interview? Well, that is an amazing option for some students. It bolsters the resume, without taking away the fun of that last high school summer. So consider the Skillset Summer.

For help with applying to any of these kinds of programs, visit Empowerly.

Questions? Let us know!