Exploring Your Interests Through Reading and Research This Summer
Summer break is a great time for students to relax, but summer shouldn’t be spent just lounging around! Students should use this break in their academic schedule to pursue their interests and one way to do that is through reading and research.
A productive summer keeps students engaged, fights summer brain drain, and gives them the opportunity to pursue activities that relate to their interests in order to better prepare for the college admissions process senior year. We can’t stress enough the importance of outside reading, especially as part of a productive summer. Reading not only allows students to explore topics of interest, but it also helps expand their vocabulary and can help them become better writers. Research is also a great way to learn more about your interests and finish the summer with a project or paper that is a finished product of all your hard work. Here’s how to use reading and research to advance your knowledge this summer.
Reading is the easiest way to become a specialist in your fields of interest. Start out by reading articles, blogs, and other online resources about a topic you’re really passionate about. Interested in international relations? Read up on the latest news about foreign relationships. Love fashion? Check out some popular fashion blogs to learn about new trends. Then, branch out. Research relevant books and other publications that can give you a more in-depth dive into the topic. Maybe you want to learn about the history of fashion, or you want to get more granular and read about French fashion houses in the early 20th century. Find books that can give you in-depth information that you can’t find from skimming online articles. Reading doesn’t have to just include physical books. It can also include audio books or podcasts that cover the topics you’re interested in.
Now that you’ve done a lot of reading about your interests, put that knowledge to work! Do some research and put together a paper or project that highlights what you’ve learned. For students interested in history, learning how to do historical research can help them really develop their interest. IvyWise counselor Christine says: “Search for good sources, and think critically about the past, perhaps even drawing connections with today’s world. And there is no better way to learn than by working on a research paper, for class or, better yet, independently. This BBC handout offers a helpful primer on how to do historical research, and this Harvard Writing Center brief guides students through the process of writing a history paper.”
Independent research not only demonstrates your specialty in a topic, it also allows you to show off your knowledge. This can strengthen your application and give you a final product to add to a portfolio. Students can submit their independent research papers to publications like The Concord Review to further promote their work.
Reading and research can help students who may not have summer plans still achieve a productive break. Colleges want to know how students spend their summers, so don’t pass up an opportunity to take on an easy college prep task!
Our free College Planning Checklist can also help students stay on task this summer and have a productive summer break!