Hi, hello, willkommen and bienvenue! To Stella’s annual blog post that either means she is bored or procrastinating something important. Probably both. Anyhow, if you were debating on what you could do before and during the summer that would be both fun and look good on your UWC application, look no further! For this post I have compiled an exhaustive (probably not, but just go with it) list of things like summer camps or volunteering opportunities for you to check out, as well as other random ideas. I hope you will find some of these ideas helpful to your own UWC application!

I’ve gone over this a lot in this post, but it’s truly so important that you use the summer before your application well so that you have more material to use for essays and interviews.


If you have never heard of UWC short courses before, they usually last between 1-5 weeks and have been offered since 1978 at various different UWCs.

Imagine everything you’re looking for in UWC, minus the academic stress and IB, and poof! You have a short course.

Okay, that’s obviously an exaggeration since it is not fair to compare a 2 year program with a 2 week program. However, as someone who took part in one, it truly is a great way to experience the UWC spirit, while living together with people from all around the world. For me, it was the first time I felt like I met people with similar values and shared passions, people who want to make the world a better place. If you have the time and means to take part in a short course, I highly encourage you to do so.

The course I participated in was “Global Leadership Forum” and was hosted in UWC USA in Montezuma (such a beautiful campus, ahh!) And, small side note: five people (+ me) ended up at UWCs, which just proves that UWC short courses really do attract people who are passionate about UWCs and who have a goal of applying there! 🙂

UWC USA Global Leadership Forum 2016, New Mexico


You know that one hobby you have, that interest that will keep you talking for hours on end? Is there a club for that at your school? No? Then why not just start one yourself (before the summer obviously)! Starting your own club is good for multiple reasons, 1: you’ll get to spend time doing something you really enjoy, 2: You will inevitably develop important leadership skills, which are useful in every aspect of life, not just UWC. And lastly, it demonstrates that you can take initiative! It doesn’t matter whether that be a science club, book club, chess club, gardening club… The only thing that matters is you pursuing what you are passionate about. In case you might have worries like “What if no one joins?”- even if you only get three of your friends to do it with you, I guarantee you it won’t matter in the application! They won’t be interested in how many members it has, they will simply be impressed that you took the initiative to start something new.


One way to think about this could be in terms of subject areas, for example a science club, literature club or language club. If you would like something less school-like, just think of whatever interest you have or hobby you enjoy doing and make it into a club! Examples: anime club, skating club. Something like a baking club could even be connected with charity, through events where you sell baked goods to raise money. Generally, literally any social cause is worth being made into a club to raise awareness! You could start a club dedicated to educating about marine conservation, for instance. Another classic would be an Amnesty International club.


This is probably my favorite part of this whole post! The summer before my second application to UWC I took part in two ijgd camps, one media creation camp in Hamburg, Germany and one environmental conservation camp in France, and I had such a great time. ijgd is a german organization, and only for German nationals/citizens, but below I will put a list of volunteer orgs in different countries! :))

The great thing about this is that most, if not all volunteer organizations have options in-country, as well as abroad!

Whether you want something closer to home because you want to directly contribute to the community where you live, or you want an experience in another country (possibly in another language, like my camp in France!) I’m sure you will find something that suits your interests! There are numerous different types of work and camps that you can do, relating to environment, restoration, education, agriculture, animals, language, festival organization… the options are limitless!

Environmental camp 2017: Removing an invasive plant species in the protected dunes of Erdeven, Bretagne


Armenia – Voluntary Service of Armenia

Azerbaijan – Bridge to the Future

Belgium – Compagnon Batisseurs Belgium, Javva Belgium

Bosnia and Herzegovina – South East European Youth Network (SEEYN)

China – Dreamwalker China

Denmark – Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke

Estonia – Estyes

Finland – Alianssi Youth Exchanges

France – Compagnons Batisseurs France, Concordia France (CONCF), Jeunesse et Reconsruction, JR, Solidarites Jeunesses, SJ

(I will add more links soon)


(Picture Credit Rotes Kreuz Schwaz)

With this I can only really talk about Austria specifically, though I am sure that loads of other countries have it too. This is also more of a long-term suggestion, so depending on when you see this blog post this might not be applicable to you.

I personally was part of the Austrian Youth Red Cross (Österreichisches Jugendrotkreuz) for 2 years and it was so much fun. Not only do you receive very in-depth first aid training in a fun environment, you also have a group of friends to do it with and even go to competitions every year to compete with groups from other cities.

Even though all the scenarios you go through to practice are only theoretical, there have been numerous times in my life so far where my first aid training has come in handy. Red Cross teaches you a lot, but like I mentioned, I really did have such a great time doing it, so if it sounds like something you might enjoy I encourage you to look into it! Not to mention, it will definitely look great on your application, too.


Okay, not to get all cheesy on you here but what you have to remember is that there is not one “ideal UWC applicant.” There just isn’t. Your hobbies, interests and passions are what make you you, and when I applied the second time round I really had to remind myself to stay out of that mindset of “Let me do all these things just for my application.” which is what I was thinking the first time I applied. By all means, if there is something you would like to try out, go for it, and please challenge yourself!! And like I mentioned in this post, I had such a great time in the camps and short course. BUT, your passions and hobbies are just as interesting as conversation material as anything else.

To give you a personal example, in the summer of 2017 I was a part of the Rockin’ 1000 event in Val Veny as a singer. Singing is one of my favorite things to do, and Rockin’ 1000 was an opportunity to do so with hundreds of other people who also enjoy rock music. I even ended up writing one of my application essays about that experience! I think the essay prompt was something along the lines of “Describe an event or a personal challenge that happened to you.” I wrote about the language barrier, since I was there alone and most people were Italian and only spoke Italian, which I really struggled with, but in the end music was universal enough that it still brought us all together and I made great friends.

What I am trying to get across is that though you might not think that what you are already doing for fun will be interesting enough or not “related to UWC”-enough, I assure you that it can be! You can learn valuable things from pretty much anything in your life, whether that be running an instagram account for your art or tutoring the kid from your next door neighbors. Think outside the box, I’m certain you will be able to write or talk about your hobbies in a way that can convince interviewers that you belong in a UWC. Trust me, they will sense when your eyes light up while talking about an interest or passion you are pursuing.


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