4 Ways High School Internships Help College-Bound Students

This four-part blog series illuminates a range of strategies that independent school counselors can employ to help their students navigate the college admissions process.

To support you as you guide your students toward college readiness, we’re offering a series of strategies and tips to make the process more streamlined and more successful. In this second installment, we tackle the benefits of high school internships for students heading to college.

Though we may think of internships primarily in the context of college, many are available to high schoolers as well. In a recent Naviance survey, 81% of students stated that they would like access to more internships and other real-world career learning opportunities. Students want these opportunities because they’re concerned about achieving their academic and career goals. 

We know that you see your students’ greatness show up in big and small ways every day and that you’re doing everything you can to help them find colleges that are the best possible fit. Helping your students prepare for college is an enormous task, and it includes scouting out and applying for internships, or other programs like externships and job shadows, that match their specific ambitions. 

How do high school internships help students who are college-bound? Let’s dive into the top four most important ways.

1)  Shaping a More Focused Postsecondary Academic Track 

If taking an internship in college helps to shed light on a specific career, then likewise taking an internship in high school begins to shed light on specific postsecondary academic tracks.

 An internship at a newspaper while in high school, for example, will give a student an early understanding of what college courses and degrees she may need in order to succeed in that field. Likewise, a newspaper internship may reveal to her that journalism isn’t her passion, after all, and lead her to explore other professions and the training or skills they require.

Either way, an internship in high school will provide a window to a potential career, and an early opportunity to start zeroing in on postsecondary paths and the specific directions they can lead.

2)  Broadening Out-of-School Mentorship Possibilities 

Taking an internship in high school also means meeting more people outside of school, including mentors. This is beneficial to a student because it introduces them to someone — or a whole network of people — who are separate from school and who can offer wisdom and guidance that are germane to the student’s future academic and career goals.

Internship-related mentors can also help high school students by sharing their own postsecondary paths, and illuminating what skills are necessary and what skills might be less so for that particular career. These mentors can also be an excellent source of information on which colleges and universities offer the courses, degrees, and programs most relevant to a high school student’s professional aspirations.

3) Strengthening College Applications

It’s simple: A college application that features a high school internship will be stronger than one that does not. This is especially true in very competitive application pools, where one extra activity or achievement can tilt a college application in the right direction.

Since the coronavirus hit, many schools have had to rethink their admissions process, including what criteria are required for applicants. One requirement that many schools dropped was completion of exams such as the ACT and SAT. This change has shot up college applications, especially at high-ranking schools. Harvard alone has seen a 42% increase in regular decision applications for the 2021 -22 school year.

The college admissions process is more competitive than ever, and high school internships will help students stand out in a crowd.

4) Building Life Skills for College Readiness 

A high school student’s schedule is busy even without an internship. But taking one will actually help foster and develop some of life’s most important skills. A high school internship, for example, will require a student to become more adept at time-management — it will instill the importance of arriving on time, accounting for tardiness, and planning hours around schoolwork and weekend activities.

High school internships also provide an early opportunity for students to learn skills that will benefit them in college, like building new relationships and adapting to new educational and social environments.

At Naviance, we know that helping your students find the right internship opportunities takes time, and that the process can be full of obstacles. But overcoming them is rewarding for both you and your students. We’re here to support you all the way!

Download our College Admissions Guide

What does it mean to be ready for college? So much more than a state of mind, college readiness encompasses a constellation of skills and knowledge that students must possess in order to achieve postsecondary success. In addition to academic competency, students need an understanding of their strengths and interests in order to navigate their paths to college and indeed through life.

At Naviance, we recognize the many challenges that independent school counselors face as key figures in their students’ college preparation process. It’s why we developed our College, Career, and Life Readiness (CCLR) Framework — to help you understand your students’ interests, strengths, and needs, so you can individualize support to help them reach their goals.

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