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Do colleges count summer activities?

QUESTION: I have some questions about my summer activities. Do the activities that you do only during the summer count? I mean, how do colleges know what you've done over the summer? Also, would it look suspicious to admission officers if I take on three leadership positions during the summer? I really like the positions, and I'm not doing it just to impress the colleges. Signed, Passionate Procrastinator

Dear Passionate: Some students think that colleges only care about what you do on school grounds and during school hours. In reality, colleges know that you have a life outside of school and may be involved in many other non-school related activities. They take into account what you do during the summer. In fact, there is space on most college applications for you to describe your summer activities.

You also are worried about whether colleges will look down on the fact that you have assumed three leadership positions almost overnight. To some extent this will depend on your track record. If you have been involved in these activities previously with increasing levels of responsibility, it makes sense that you would become a leader in them.

If you are a rising senior and this is the first time that you are getting involved, then the colleges may wonder about your commitment to these activities. To overcome any suspicions you will want to demonstrate to colleges that you are a leader in these activities not just because you want to impress them but because you actually enjoy them and get things done. Be sure to cite actual accomplishments to show the colleges that you are not a leader in name only.

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Gen & Kelly Tanabe

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.