Summer is a great time to relax and take life at a slower pace. Using summer wisely may also give high school students a college admissions advantage at some selective colleges. Some college advisors call summer programs the best kept secret of high-achieving students. Below are some suggestions for productive ways for high school students to spend their summer.
- Travel on a family trip or with summer programs. Consider keeping a journal or writing down any “Aha!” moments that you have.
- Get a job or internship. This shows responsibility and helps you learn to interact with lots of different kinds of people. This often helps in pre-professional fields such as medicine, engineering, or physical therapy where a frequent interview question is, “Why are you interested in a career in _______?”
- Volunteer. There are formal service/learning opportunities where students pay to help out in another country. There are also plenty of free local volunteer opportunities here in Houston. You can volunteer at the Houston Food Bank, one of the museums or hospitals, or with a local conservation association. For other ideas, take a look at the Volunteer Houston website: www.volunteerhouston.org. Consider what you like to do and how you can share your talent with the community and world.
- Hone your talents. If you are interested in college sports, attend sports showcases during the summer in order to be seen by coaches. Students who want to pursue an art career can work on their art portfolio. Music, theater, voice or dance students can use the summer to prepare for their auditions.
- Develop leadership skills. Having a job during the summer is one way to develop leadership skills. Students who hope to be campus leaders for a club or sport during the next school year may want to spend time during the summer thinking about what they want to accomplish during their year of leadership. There are also many formal leadership programs for high school students during the summer months.
- Read. Read anything that sparks your interest! Reading is the best way to improve reading speed, which often translates into higher standardized test scores. A frequent question during college interviews is, “What is the last book that you read which was not required reading?” Other colleges ask, “What book would you recommend to a friend?” Consider taking a speed-reading course or a study skills class during the summer if you feel you would benefit.Pursue your intellectual interests.
- Summer is the ideal time to pursue a “passion project” where you learn about something that interests you just for the sake of learning. Work in a local lab. Watch a documentary about a subject of interest. Check out the free online classes available from many universities, or consider enrolling in a pre-college program offered at universities around the country. Some can be quite expensive, though. An alternative: take a class at the local community college. Students who are at least 16 years of age can enroll easily, and the classes are inexpensive.
Show some initiative by using the ideas above to create an awesome summer for yourself!