How to Make a Splash This Summer

The temperature is climbing and summer is around the corner. While summer is a respite from the busy academic year and you should take time to relax, you should also consider using the uninterrupted time to your advantage by focusing on activities that challenge you. Summer presents many great opportunities for students to develop their interests and goals —travel to a foreign country, continue training in your favorite sport, make up a class or gain extra credits in summer school, start a business, get an internship, or join a community service organization. Read on for some top ideas for students, and don’t forget that you can talk to your counselor for more information on summer programs, classes, or activities.

Taking summer classes can be a valuable way to spend your time. The course load is light enough to give you time to enjoy your vacation while still providing educational opportunities you might not find at your high school or have time for during the academic year. Enroll at a local community college or, if you happen to live close to a larger state school or private university, talk to the admissions office about auditing a summer course. You won’t receive credit, but you may be able to take a specialized class that can help determine what major in college appeals to you. For example, if you’re interested in studying education and your high school does not offer any education courses, you may want to use the summer as an opportunity to take them at a local college. You can also get involved in academic camps or multi-week programs that focus on a specific topic. With a little research you will find that there is a summer program for nearly any interest. If you’re interested in music, there are many options, including one offered by the Berklee College of Music. Or, if you’re interested in technology, iD Tech Camps offer classes across the country on university campuses. These types of programs can give you a head start on your classes, demonstrate your commitment to an area of interest, and provide you with a fulfilling and accomplished summer. The deadlines for many summer programs are often during the spring, so be sure to start making plans now.

If you have the opportunity to go abroad this summer, make it count; you should have a purpose for traveling and immersive programs are best. While it’s fun to take trips, it is crucial to invest your time and energy into pursuits that allow you to better yourself or the community. You might want to study at a foreign university that specializes in a subject you’re interested in (like studying economics in London or Art History in Provence), or volunteer in a capacity that utilizes skills you’ve learned while abroad (like doing archaeology in Peru). You don’t necessarily need to study a language, although perfecting a second or third language is indeed a worthwhile pursuit. Whatever it is you do, make sure you’re committed for at least six to eight weeks.

If you decide to use the summer to work for extra money, you can still pursue part-time jobs that help you explore your interests. For example, if you’re interested in working toward a law degree you may consider administrative work in a law or legal aid office. If you are working a retail or food service job, ask your manager if you can help him or her with additional tasks that match up with your interests—like creating an advertisement if you’re interested in graphic design or scripting a commercial if you’re focused on film studies. Definitely start your job hunt early, as most employers start looking for summer or seasonal help in April and May.

If you have commitments at home, or are otherwise unable to participate in a full-time program, there are still many other activities you can get involved in without leaving home. Consider undertaking independent research or planning a community service project that you can do during the school year. If these tasks seem daunting, ask a teacher to mentor you. He or she can help you craft your ideas and follow appropriate procedures. During your free time you can also get a head start on some of your schoolwork and tackle your summer reading list. Or, if you’re taking any AP classes next semester, lighten your load for the fall by reading through some of the materials for the class.

No matter where your talents and interests lie, more than anything else you should remain productive during your time away from school. You may want to take a little time off but use the rest of your vacation wisely. Armed with our suggestions, you will have lots of options to explore. And don’t forget to have fun!

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