If you’re a student working this summer in such industries as fast food, contracting, lifeguarding, or gardening among many other options, rest assured that how you’re spending your summer will likely not hurt your college admissions chances and may even help. College admissions counselors understand if students have a financial need to take a summer job. They need to pay their own way or maybe they need to help support their family.
What college admissions counselors are not going to do is think, “Michael built houses all summer. It’s probably what he wants to do. He doesn’t need to go to Yale to do that.” And yet so many students think college admissions counselors will think that. Not at all! Lily Altavena of the “New York Times” ran a piece a couple of days ago on students taking part-time jobs over the summer months. In the article, the director of admissions for Lehigh University said, “‘There are certainly students who feel they need to collect a salary, and they’ll earn that salary any way they see fit…A student is a bit more prone to offer rationale as to why they took a more menial job. I don’t think there should be an absolute need to justify it.’” He’s right. There’s no need to justify a summer job.
College admissions counselors overwhelmingly understand the values learned from a summer job. These are values you may not get backpacking across Europe or attending an academic summer program. In a “New York Times” blog, college professors Lynn Jacobs and Jeremy Hyman, wrote, “Travel can be a transformative experience: you’ll be in a much stronger position to study Middle-Eastern relations if you’ve just spent a few weeks touring Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.” Don’t listen to them! While travel may indeed be transformative, wonderful, memorable, and it may well give you a stronger position to study relations in the Middle East if that is your interest, it’s likely not going to help your case for admission as much as potential alternatives could.