By Sarah Wang
With the ring of the last class bell, millions of high school students across the country are filled with bubbling anticipation for the days that lay ahead – summer vacation. Although summer break is often synonymous with fun and freedom, it’s also important for students and parents to keep in mind how valuable making the most out of your time can be – especially during those critical high school years! Summer is the best time to explore and develop as both a student and an individual, all while boosting your chances of getting into your dream college. That being said, here are 10 activities to help you keep busy and make the most out of your summer:
- Get Ahead In Academics
While summer school may be the last thing on a teenager’s mind, furthering your education is always a great plus on any application or resume! Most high schools offer credit for summer courses taken for advancement or enrichment. For example, a student can become eligible for AP Biology in the school year by fulfilling the regular biology prerequisite over the summer, instead of having to take a regular class during the year. Another way to impress colleges is to take college level classes at your local college. This not only serves as a way to demonstrate your sense of initiative, but it also helps students get a grasp of the majors they would be interested in.
- Prepare for the SAT/ACT
A major component of any college application is the test scores. Most colleges require its applicants to submit results from their SAT, ACT, or SAT Subject Tests. It can’t be stressed enough how critical it is to do well on these standardized tests, so summer is definitely the time to hammer in that study time! Ideally, this intensive preparation would take place the summer before junior year, as most students take the test during the fall of junior year. Another benefit of studying for the SAT is the opportunity to earn a National Merit Scholar distinction by scoring in the top 1% of PSAT-takers. A National Merit Scholarship is very prestigious and recognized by universities across the country and can greatly alleviate the many financial strains of attending college.
Not only does volunteering look great on college applications, it’s also a fantastic way to spend your time and give back to the community. There are a variety of local organizations to choose from, such as summer camps, outreach services, and local libraries and hospitals. Students may want to consider selecting an organization in their field of interest. For example, if you think you want to become a veterinarian, check out the local animal shelter to get a feel of what a career path in the veterinary field would be like.
- Plan for College
College may seem far away to underclassmen, but it can never hurt to start preparing early! You can familiarize yourself sample applications online and plan how to fill it out when the time comes. Keep track of your achievements and activities so you’ll have it ready to go by senior year. In our new technological age, it’s also a good idea to filter your social media for any possibly inappropriate content that you wouldn’t want potential colleges to see. Getting a head start on professional networking sites like LinkedIn can also help establish your online presence to colleges and future employers. If any questions arise, be sure to contact your school counselor for more information.
- Get a Job or Internship
Now that school’s out, students have plenty of free time that can be spent getting work experience in! Whether you’re looking to earn some extra allowance or trying to intern at a biomechanics lab, working hard over the summer definitely pays off! Internships and work can be found locally or on specialized search sites. Many universities also offer comprehensive summer programs as well.
- Live a Healthy Lifestyle
Studies are important, but staying healthy takes priority. During the school year, many students end up eating fast food, staying up late, and being sedentary for long hours, so summertime is perfect for rejuvenating your body! Make sure to eat healthy, exercise, sleep early, and drink plenty of water for maximum health benefits to keep your brain and body fresh!
- Make Connections
Take the time to get to know your teachers, counselors, and other school faculty! You can keep in touch over the summer through various means, such as email, postcards, or picking up a TA position. Remember, these are the people who will be writing your recommendation letters so the extra effort will pay off! You can also visit colleges that you’re interested in and get to know the admissions staff and officers. These connections can prove to be very useful in the future!
- Enter Competitions
If you’re skilled in the arts, sciences, or any other wacky talents, put them to the test! Entering competitions can earn you recognition, scholarships, and incredible lifetime experiences like traveling to prestigious institutions, working with renowned field experts, and studying under the mentorship of some of the greatest.
- Learn New Skills
Have you ever wanted to pick up a new skill but never had the time? Now’s your chance! There are plenty of free resources out there to help you pick up new instruments, hobbies, extracurriculars, and sports in just a few months.
- Experience New Cultures
Although traveling during the summer means paying peak fares, it’s definitely worth it! Take the time to explore new countries, learn new languages, and even study abroad for a couple months. The experience will be unforgettable and a great topic of conversation!
Summer vacation comes and goes in a flash, so don’t waste your time! What will you be doing this summer?