Hi guys,

How are you? This is Mr. Daniel. I hope you guys are having a great weekend!

Today I would like to talk about 2 mediocre activities that college DON’T care about!


Mediocre Activity #1 – Superficial community Service hours

I have seen many students’ college applications covering years of random extracurricular activities that they participate in high school. These activities may amount to a few hours trash pickup for the recycling club, weekly Chinese school teaching assistance, and hours of volunteering during the school year that do not seem to be consistent with the student’s personal story. Many of these superficial activities have low value and little meaning for the students. When I ask a student about why they participate in an activity, many times I get responses that show little opinions or interest. Many students are also unclear why they do community service. In such cases, I am afraid that much of their time has been wasted.


I believe that community service is a way for a person to get exposed to new experiences often outside his or her comfort zone. Community service is a way to get a person out of the comfortable “bubble” that many privileged teenagers live in. Colleges know this and want to see what burden a student has for his or her own community and what he or she does about it.

As a high school student, your interaction with others matters to colleges. Your impact on your family, classmates, your school, your community, regardless of how significant it is, reveals a lot about who you are as a person.

You may be burdened by family responsibilities with younger siblings to care for, and so you spend your extra time at Big Brothers Big Sisters of America mentoring other underprivileged youth (https://www.bbbs.org/). You may have a special burden for children sick with chronic disorders because of a sick friend or family member and you organize a Wish Granter for Make-A-Wish Foundation. (https://wish.org/volunteer). This year we have a few freshmen who started their own environmental club because one of them is determined to keep a trashless marine environment when he goes scuba diving. Our life is a process of continuous learning. Community service is a way to meet other people with similar passion and build interesting life stories colleges want to hear about. So never waste precious time and do community service that you do not care about! Instead, partake in community services that you really want to be involved in and become part of that organization for a sustained period of time.

Check out this website and see what opportunities are around your community!



Mediocre Activity #2 – Expensive summer programs or fee-based 3rd-party programs.


Prestigious universities like the eight-Ivy Leagues (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, UPenn, Princeton & Yale) offer a variety of summer programs. Many of these programs come at hefty price tags. Check out below:

Harvard’s two-week session costs $3200 (that is online! and no credits given). Seven-week High school Program costs ($6800 for 8 credits) and upwards of $12,000 with living expenses.




Parents tell me “My 16 year-old got into Harvard,” but it turns out, the student was offered an expensive Harvard Summer Academy (no credit) or Harvard High School Program (with credit).  Parents and students expect that these hefty summer programs will help them get into the specified university. Unfortunately, colleges do not accept you because you can afford a $12,000 summer program.

The same is true for any fee-based, 3rd-party summer programs that are out there. These are often value traps. Parents and students sign up thinking that they look great on college applications. Many of these programs are short term, one to two weeks long, when a retired professor or faculty coaches the students in a particular field of study using PowerPoints. Students get bored and get very little out of the program other than a senseless spot on their college application with the course title listed.

Please do not take out a loan to apply for these hefty summer programs just because Ivy offers them or because a value trap program can look good on college application.

I believe that colleges do care about how you spend your summer and they do want to know about your intellectual curiosity in learning things outside of the normal school environment. However, colleges will take in a broader context of your other activities as well and make connections to your life story and personal essays. This is how colleges paint a picture of who you really are. Picking a summer program because it looks “good” on application is definitely not the way to go.


Here is what you’ll see on UC applications:

UC application gives you up to 20 spots for putting in your activities with 350 characters of space for each activity.

Here are the categories of UC activities

  1. Award or Honors
  2. Educational Prep Programs
  3. Extracurricular Activities
  4. Other coursework beyond a to g
  5. Volunteer/community service
  6. Work experience (paid)


As you can see, both community service & educational summer programs are an important part of your college profile. They allow you to explore for your future career, to demonstrate your intellectual capacity and curiosity. If you need help with summer planning, please let us know. We can arrange 1-hour consultation with our counselors to help to see what activities are most suitable for you. We promise we won’t compare your activities to others because what works for others may not work for you. Plan your summer honestly. Be realistic with the available times you have, be genuine to your interest and the amount of sacrifice you are willing to give. But remember, today’s sacrifice will pay off tomorrow!


I hope this helps with your 2021 summer planning,


See you next time

Mr. Daniel



我是丹尼爾。 希望你們度過了一個愉快的周末!








我看到許多學生的大學申請,談及他們參加高中時多年不定時的課外活動。 這些活動可能包括幾個小時的回收社團服務、為中文學校提供每週的教學幫助以及在學年裡進行義工服務,這些似乎與學生的個人經歷不一致。 表面上許多課外活動對學生來說價值不高,意義不大。 當我問一個學生為什麼參加一項活動時,很多時候我得到的回應都顯示出很少的見解或興趣。 許多學生也不清楚為什麼要進行社區服務。 在這種情況下,恐怕他們的很多時間都浪費了。


我相信社區服務是人們經常在自己的舒適範圍之外接觸新體驗的一種方式。 社區服務是許多享有特權的青少年脫離他們舒適居住“泡泡”的方法。所以大學深知這一點,希望了解學生對他們自己社區有什麼義務以及做了些什麼。




您可能受到家庭責任的負擔,需要照顧年幼的兄弟姐妹,因此您會利用額外時間在“美國大哥哥大姐姐”社團組織(Big Brothers Big Sisters of America)幫助指導其他處境不佳的年輕人(https://www.bbbs.org/)。


你也可能因患病的朋友或家人進而使你對患有慢性疾病的兒童背負特別的重任而組織“許願基金會”的“許願資助人”。  (https://wish.org/volunteer)。


今年,我們有幾位9年級學生成立了自己的環保社團,原因是其中一位學生在他潛水時,他發現並決定,保持無垃圾的海洋環境是有其必要性。 我們的生活是不斷學習的過程。 社區服務是結識具有類似熱情的其他人並同時建立大學希望聽到的有趣生活故事的一種方式。 因此,切勿浪費寶貴的時間去進行您不關心的社區服務! 相反,請參加您真正想要參與的社區服務,並在持續的一段時間內成為該組織的一員。







著名的大學(如八個常春藤聯盟)(布朗,哥倫比亞,康奈爾,達特茅斯,哈佛,UPenn,普林斯頓和耶魯大學)提供各種暑期課程。 其中許多課程的價格很高。 請查看以下內容:


哈佛大學為期兩週的課程費用為3200美元(在線!沒有學分)。 七週的高中課程費用(8學分$ 6800)以及$ 12,000以上的生活費。





有家長告訴我“我16歲進入哈佛大學”,但事實證明,該學生被錄取的是昂貴的哈佛暑期學院(無學分)或哈佛高中課程(有學分)。 父母和學生期望這些昂貴的暑期課程能幫助他們進入指定的大學。 不幸的是,大學不接受您,因為您可以負擔得起$ 12,000的暑期課程。


對於任何收費的第三方暑期計劃也是如此。 這些通常內含價錢陷阱。 父母和學生報名常只是因為他們認為這在大學申請方面看起來很棒有幫助。 這些課程中許多都是短期的,只有一到兩週之久,由退休的教授或教職人員使用Power Point指導學生特定研究領域,因此學生往往感到無聊沒有興趣。




我相信大學確實關心您如何度過您的暑假,並且他們確實想了解您在正常學校環境之外學習事物方面的知識好奇心。 但是,大學也會將您的其他活動帶入更廣闊的背景,並與您的生活故事和個人簡介做連結。 大學就是利用這些來了解真實的你。 選擇暑期課程,因為它看起來“不錯”,但是絕對不是唯一的選擇。













如您所見,社區服務和暑期教育計劃都是您大學個人簡介中的重要組成部分。 他們使您能夠探索自己的未來職業,以及展示您的智力和好奇心。 如果您在暑期計劃方面需要幫助,請告訴我們, 我們可以安排1小時的諮詢服務,以幫助您了解最適合您的活動。 我們保證不會將您的活動與其他人進行比較,因為對他人有用的內容可能對您無效。


好好確實地計劃您的暑假。 對您可用時間要現實一些,對您的興趣和意願的付出犧牲要真誠。 請記住,今天的犧牲將會在明天獲得回報!