High School Summers

Aug 18, 2017
I read before that BGOs and the academy value what you do with your time over the summers but I was wondering if they prefer people having summer jobs or people volunteering. I'm a current sophomore trying to plan my summer and prepare myself for starting applications.

Also, on an unrelated note, I saw on the academy's website that one way to validate chemistry is to score well on the AP biology exam. This confused me. Is this accurate? Why would the AP chemistry exam not count instead?

They prefer people who do something useful with their summer, regardless of what it is. It wouldn't make sense to differentiate between the two. Some folks need to work to save money for college if for nothing else. Some people don't need to work and have time to volunteer. Some people live where there are no jobs to be had. You cannot penalize people for their situation and needs.

Just do something useful with your summers and don't just lie around playing Nintendo and surfing the net.
I agree with kinnem 100%. Do something you'll enjoy. For me, that was volunteering on a congressional campaign. Whatever you do, do it because you want to, not because you think volunteering looks better, etc.
Another option you may not have thought of is spending time at programs that interest you at colleges. I am a 2022 applicant and this past summer I did a program at a state college and it greatly benefited me. These programs can get pricy, but some have financial and merit scholarship opportunities. I'm not sure how influential these are on the application, but if you are looking for opportunities to better yourself beyond just what looks good on paper, you should definitely look into this option.
It really matters not what you do, provided you do something beyond simply "hanging out" or only working on college applications. First, take some true vacation -- that's what the summer is for and you need to rest your mind after finals, etc. Even mids get time off.:D

That said, the average h.s. summer is 10-12 weeks long. So, even if you take off a full month, that still gives you plenty of time to do other things. Some people need to work to pay for college or otherwise; others want to work. Some people do sports or science camps; others may not be able to afford them or not have any near where they live. Some people volunteer. Some attend summer school to get ahead or take courses not offered at their h.s.

I've had candidates tell me they don't have transportation so that's why they did nothing. Not a good excuse. Volunteer in your neighborhood. Cut lawns. Make meals for elderly or disabled people who live near you or offer to clean up their yard/home. Become a dog walker during the summer. "Babysit" your neighbors' kids. Use the Internet to do something productive. Do a lot of reading. Learn a new skill or sport. There is a world of possibility out there to do something . . . anything . . . other than sleep and play video games for three months. It need not be "impressive" because some folks can't "afford" (in one way or another) to do that -- and BGOs and USNA understand this. Rather, it should be something you enjoy and/or something that helps you grow -- athletically, mentally, socially, etc.

As stated in the sticky above, people who are most successful at SAs are those who like to keep their minds and body active. So be one of those people!