letters | A college assignment: summer

You don’t need to go to the ends of the earth to impress schools

Parents should understand that expensive summer volunteer trips do not provide fresh material for college application essays (“College-hunt climate can bring high-price, high-stress summers,” Page A1, March 5). Every admissions officer reads hundreds of essays that fit this description each year. The best essays reflect on moments in everyday life.

Summers are a time for students to indulge their passions, explore new interests, get an old-fashioned job, and, yes, relax. The typical public school summer lasts 10 weeks — enough time for a five-week internship and a vacation. It is incumbent on adults planning students’ summer experiences to allow for downtime.


The best college applications demonstrate curiosity, hard work, and genuine enthusiasm for the student’s activities. Planning summers solely to impress admissions officers is a waste of time, money, and youth.

Tracey Hyams


The writer is a private college admissions counselor.

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