Pursuing something that you are passionate about not only provides you with depth, but also expands your scope. If you are an avid lacrosse player who loves the game, maybe teaching it to underprivileged younger students would bring you satisfaction. To make the experience possible you could start a donation program where you collect lacrosse sticks, clothing and shoes from other teams to donate to the new players. Gathering these donations from your league, school, or religious institution will set you apart. Maybe you are a runner who believes in raising money for cancer and therefore starts a new race to help support breast cancer. These activities take time, but they allow you to develop many skills and show colleges how beneficial you would be on their campus.
Taking a class or two in an academic subject of interest can be another way to stand out in the college process. MOOCs are relatively new and an absolutely free way to learn from college professors. Wikipedia’s definition: A massive open online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as filmed lectures, readings, and problem sets, many MOOCs provide interactive user forums to support community interactions between students, professors, and teaching assistants. See https://www.mooc-list.com/.
Community colleges are an inexpensive way to take classes, and many top colleges offer classes on their campuses, which is a pricier alternative. There is a myth that taking a course on the campus that you are interested in, will give you an advantage when it comes to getting into that college. Generally this is not the case, however it will give you insight into whether you like the location and the feel of the school. Remember however that the weather may be very different. On-line classes or an independent study project are also great options.
If you have not done any meaningful volunteering, the summer offers lots of time to change that. Colleges love to see students volunteer because it shows them that you will be a meaningful part of their community once you enroll. Giving back also has many rewards which are important in human development. Find an area of interest and then look for opportunities. Here are some websites to look at:http://marylandvolunteercenters.org/ a general listing, https://www.mdfoodbank.org/volunteer/ ; helping animals http://www.mdspca.org/volunteer/.
Many students opt to make money by lifeguarding, working in a retail store, or another environment. Colleges like to see students have jobs because it shows a good work ethic. If you can find a way to distinguish yourself in your position by improving the system, that is even better. For example, I had a student who was a lifeguard at a pool which did not have recycling, so she instituted a recycling program by picking up the yellow bins. Because the county would not pick up from the pool area, she brought the recycling back to her home. That was wonderful dedication and we highlighted that in her application. She was accepted into every college and received significant merit aid from many schools, for that and other accomplishments. More importantly she felt proud that her efforts improved our environment.
The most important thing to do in the summer is something which you feel will help you grow and discover your strengths. Look at gaps that you have in your college profile and try a new activity. Do something meaningful and worthwhile during the summer, along with relaxing and enjoying some sunshine.