How to Have a Productive High School Summer
More than likely, you’re counting down the days until the final bell rings, and school lets out for summer. It probably feels as if it will never get here. Maybe you already have plans for the summer, such as a trip to the beach or days spent lounging by the pool with friends. But don’t forget that summer can be used for other types of fun, such as new activities, experiences, and skills that will help you in the future. Consider shaking things up a little this summer with some of these ideas.
Get to Work
Working during the summer may sound like the last thing you want to do, but having a summer job is an excellent way to gain valuable experience that can be included on your resume and college applications. You can earn money to help pay for college, or work toward purchasing that new pair of sneakers you’ve been eyeing at the mall. Most of the summer jobs you come across will be part-time, but full-time jobs are also out there, especially if you approach a previous employer, and you’re old enough to work full-time. Try to find a job that you enjoy and can maintain. If you’re able to work at the same job each summer, you increase your chances of earning a promotion and being given new responsibilities – both of which make for a stronger background on your resume and college application.
If possible, enhance your summer activities by working in a career field you like.
For example, if you’re interested in journalism, look for a job as a contributing writer for your local newspaper or publishing company. If they can’t hire you outright, ask about job shadowing. Look for opportunities to learn valuable skills from your employer or mentor, and make connections. Your employer could write you a letter of recommendation, or put you in touch with other knowledgeable and successful members in that field. Of course, you may find that although the job made for a worthwhile experience, it’s not what you want for a future career. That’s why summer can be the perfect time to figure out what you want to do.
Get to Class
Summer is supposed to give you a break from classes, so you might think there’s no reason to crack the books. However, taking summer classes can keep you on track in high school and prepare you for college. Perhaps you struggled with algebra last year and you want to get a better grade. Maybe you want to take a class that you don’t have time for during the school year --or that your school doesn’t offer-- such as photography or psychology. Whatever your reason, summer classes are a great way to get that extra boost, and they could even earn you a few college credits along the way. Summer classes can be taken through your local high school, community college, university, or online educational service provider. Talk with your high school guidance counselor or career counselor about summer class options available to you.
Get to Fun
Summer can be a great time to learn new skills and earn some spending money, but it’s also a time to relax and recharge without the stress of class, homework, projects, and extracurricular activities. In fact, to avoid burnout, the Office of Admissions at Harvard University advocates for bringing summer back. While summer jobs, internships, and academics are important, they can add to the stress of constantly meeting standards. In order to mentally prepare for the next school year, you need free time to recharge and reflect -- without the added pressure to achieve. Use the summer as a time to incorporate a little bit of relaxation into your life, and hang out with friends.
(By the way, it’s important to keep in mind that all the free time could land you in some sticky situations should your friends pressure you into activities with alcohol or drugs. Keep the lines of communication open with your parents and caregivers, and consider creating a “bail-out” phrase to use when you are in an uncomfortable situation such as, “Can you come pick me up? I have a really bad stomachache.” If a situation seems dangerous, don’t hesitate to get an adult’s help. To create a trusting relationship, be open and honest about how you are spending your summer days.)
Summer is a great time to be productive, whether it’s with a summer job or taking extra classes, but remember to schedule some safe and fun downtime, too. Make the most of your summer vacation to face the next school year prepared and recharged.
Mr. Lawson co-created Edutude to help provide parents and educators with unique, creative ways to encourage students to be challenged, motivated and excited by learning.