A summer of growth: Help us learn about you

A person at a pottery wheel, shaping clay in a pottery studio.
This summer, open yourself up to new opportunities. Pick up a new hobby, explore a new place or take a fun class! (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Summer is arguably the best time of the year. No classes, no homework, no rigid schedules, just sun, fun and most importantly, time to do you.  

Next fall, when school rolls around again, you might find yourself busy prepping for application season, caught up with extracurriculars and buried in homework. Take this opportunity and lean into learning about yourself; dive into a passion project or explore something you’ve always wanted to do but never had time to accomplish. 

It’s never a bad idea to center your personal growth and hey, you might even end up discovering something that you want to pursue at a higher level (hint, hint as your college major). 

However, all of this is obviously easier said than done. If you’re anything like me, sometimes having too much time on your hand means that you end up doing nothing at all. 

That’s where I come in with some ideas to get you started!

 Don't just take my word for it — hear from our experts!

"It is important to take the time to explore what’s most meaningful to you during high school as sharing these experiences throughout your UC Application provides Admissions Readers deeper insight on what makes you unique and authentic.

Discovering your interests and reflecting on how they align with your values and goals reveals a lot and helps set you apart. 

Admissions Readers will gain a sense of how you performed and challenged yourself in your coursework but we won’t learn how you think, what’s unique from your perspective and how your experiences helped shape you, unless you share this. You and your experiences are the center of your application, so embrace your “main character energy”! "

— Iona Paragas Nee, recruitment specialist, UC Davis Undergraduate Admissions

Skill up 

Consider learning a new skill this summer. There are thousands of free online courses and apps geared at helping you “skill up.” Want to learn a new language, consider downloading apps like Duolingo. Have an inkling to code a website, understand human physiology or write the next New York Times bestseller, take an online class with Coursera or another certification website (just do your research to make sure they’re legit).

Go one step further and think about enrolling in a class at your local community college, in town at a craft or recreation center and if time permits maybe even a class at UC Davis’ Summer Sessions

Make a meaningful impact 

If you enjoy working with others and want to do something in-person try volunteering. Volunteering is a fantastic way to make a meaningful impact this summer. 

Start by searching organizations near you that offer volunteer opportunities. Take the time to familiarize yourself with specific missions and values that resonate with you. UC Davis’ Internship and Career Center has a dedicated up-to-date search engine (don’t worry it’s open to the public), where you can browse by category to begin your volunteer journey! 

Start building connections 

If nothing above sounds good to you, take baby steps and reach out to people in your network (think teachers, local businesspeople, your parents’ friends, etc.) who work, or have experience in topics that interest you or pique your curiosity. Cold emailing is scary but you would be amazed at how many people are willing to sit and chat with someone — everyone loves to talk about themselves, amirite — who was in their shoes not so long ago. 

Isabella Beristain returns to UC Davis, as a staff writer and editor, after graduating in 2022. She works closely with the UC Davis Undergraduate Admissions team and partners, to bring you the inside scoop on admissions info. With over five years in marketing and a knack for storytelling, Isabella ensures your start to college is both entertaining and enlightening.

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