What Did You Do This Summer?

Learn How to Talk about Summer Vacation with Your College Interviewer

Girl reading a book in the city
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This question has similarities to another question I've discussed: What do you do in your free time? Summer, however, is a heck of a lot more substantial than a few free hours on the weekend, so your interviewer is going to be looking for something meaningful that you've accomplished during those months off from school.

Before we proceed, keep in mind that no one expects you to be busy every day of the year.

Summer is indeed a time to recoup after a busy academic year. Students who treat summer like an 80-hour-a-week job are setting themselves up for burn-out.

Weak Answers

That said, colleges will want to see that you're not the type of student who lets three months go by without doing anything productive. Answers such as these are not going to impress anyone:

  • I built a really cool world in Minecraft. (Good for you, but realize that a lot of students fail out of college because they give video games priority over all else; three months staring at the computer screen represents a rather anti-social -- even if multiplayer -- and unproductive use of time)
  •  I was burned out from school, so I relaxed. (For three months? Also, don't highlight academic burn-out in your college interview. Sure, it happens to most students, but such an answer also sends a message that you get overwhelmed by school work. This isn't what you want to tell a college admissions representative.)
  • I hung out with my friends. (Having friends is good. Colleges want to admit friendly students who build meaningful relationships with others. But what exactly did you do with your friends? Develop this reply to explain the meaningful activities you did with your friends. Ideally, you did something more productive than cruise the local shopping mall.)

    The list could go on, but you get the idea. Answers that suggest you let the summer slip by without doing anything to enrich yourself or help others aren't going to impress anyone.

    Strong Answers

    Your answer to the question, of course, is going to depend entirely on what you did in the summer, but work to identify a few meaningful activities from your summer break before you set foot in the interview room. Some activities that will sound good to your interviewer include:

    • Travel. Did you go somewhere interesting? A national park, historic site, cultural center, or some other destination that opened your eyes to new experiences?
    • Reading. Your interviewer won't want to hear that you spent the whole summer indoors with your face buried in books, but they love to hear about reading. Students who read a lot tend to do well in college. (Learn more: Recommend a Good Book to Me)
    • Work. Whether you helped on the family farm or cleaned dishes at the local eatery, students who work reveal a level of maturity and responsibility that will impress the admissions folks.
    • Entrepreneurship. This could be related to work, but you'll certainly make a good impression if you started your own lawn mowing business, developed a useful app, or did something else that reveals creativity, confidence, and motivation.
    • Volunteerism. Community service and volunteer work play an increasingly important role in the college admissions process, and summer is the ideal time to do meaningful volunteer work.
    • Education. Did you attend a summer engineering or orchestra camp? Did you take a class at the local community college? Needless to say, colleges want students who like to learn.

    Your answer to the question will obviously be unique to your own interests and activities, and that's largely the point here -- make sure you are telling your interviewer about summer experiences that have helped make you the person you are. Show that when you are given the time, you'll do something meaningful and productive. In short, show your interviewer that you're the type of interesting, curious, hard-working, motivated person who will contribute to a campus community in positive ways.

    Ideas for Summer Break

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    Your Citation
    Grove, Allen. "What Did You Do This Summer?" ThoughtCo, Feb. 9, 2017, thoughtco.com/what-did-you-do-this-summer-788886. Grove, Allen. (2017, February 9). What Did You Do This Summer? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-did-you-do-this-summer-788886 Grove, Allen. "What Did You Do This Summer?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-did-you-do-this-summer-788886 (accessed April 26, 2018).