Make the Most of Your Summer

With the chilly air and wind on the East Coast, summer seems eons away.  However, many summer programs have an application deadline of March 1 or earlier and others offer early registration discounts, so it’s good to start early to figure out how to make the most of your summer. Summer is a great time to fill in gaps in your profile or dive deeper into areas of interest for high school sophomores and juniors.  Below are five tips to get the most out of your summers.

1. Get a Job.  I know that jobs are in short supply for teens, but there are many seasonal jobs that rely on teens such as ice cream stores, host/hostess, bus boys, camp counselors, lifeguards, babysitting, sports instructors, stock people, referees, and retail stores.  It’s best to start looking early so if you are currently a sophomore, think ahead for next summer.  Work is great experience and colleges like to see that you have taken on that responsibility.  If you can’t get a job, try shadowing a professional in a career that interest you.

2. Pursue Your Intellectual Curiosity. If there is a subject that you want to explore further or a subject that is not offered at your high school, summer is a great time to pursue this.  There are a number of pre-college programs you can pursue in history, science, creative writing, performing arts, design, art, film, architecture, marine biology, etc.   You name it; there is likely a pre-college program to pursue your passion.  If science is your passion, see if you can work in a local lab.  If you do not want to go to a formal program, research something that intrigues you or watch a documentary on the subject.  There are numerous ways to show your intellectual curiosity.

3. Volunteer. Many students are too busy during the school year to volunteer, so summer is an excellent time to do community service.  There are formal, paid programs where you can combine travel and cultural immersion with community service, but you can also volunteer locally.  Check out the local animal shelter, food bank, homeless shelter, soup kitchen, congressman, environmental club, old age home, hospital, library, house of worship, day care, etc.  Most agencies have a volunteer section of their website, so fill out the form and start helping your community.  You can also go to Volunteer Match for some ideas. 

4. Hone Your Talent.  Whether your talent is sports, performing or visual arts, language, or computers programming, summer is a great time to go deeper in that arena.  If you are an athlete and hope to be recruited, there are numerous summer showcases at colleges.  Go to one in the league to which you wish to be recruited so that coaches can see your talent.  If you plan on applying to a visual or performing arts school, summer is the time to work on your portfolio or audition piece. For many talent based programs, gaining exposure to coaches or professors during the summer can give you an edge.

5. Develop Leadership Skills.   If you have been going to sleep-away camp since you were eight, this summer become a leader in the camp by being a counselor or counselor in training.  If you plan on being an officer in a club next year, put together a plan of what you want to achieve during the summer so you can hit the ground running.  Summer is also a great time to plan or implement your Gold or Eagle Scout award.


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