For high school students, very little compares to the bliss of summer vacation. After nine months of endless studying and classes, it’s time to kick back by the pool and soak in the sun.
And while you should definitely take advantage of some well-deserved R&R, remember — summer can be a productive time, too.
Productive does not mean “boring”. I’m not necessarily recommending that you spend your entire vacation in class. (Although, I’m not discouraging it either.) What I am recommending is that you find more to do than swim, text, and catch up on Netflix.
Think about it. When you’re applying for college, they look at much more than your ACT and SAT scores. Colleges want to see that you are dedicated, involved, and passionate. Straight-A’s and a 36 ACT score sound amazing, but not if you’re not involved. A B-average student who participates in marching band, student council, and volunteers has just as good of a chance…if not a better one!
So start working on your college application now. It’s never too early to get started and there’s no better time. With no classes to get in the way, you have lots of free time to round out your application by making the most of your summer vacation.
Here are 5 simple ways to be productive this summer:
Find a summer job.
The fact that you are spending your summer earning money is impressive to schools. And it puts more money in your wallet. This way, you can afford that new cell phone or car when you get to campus. Working is also a great way to build essential skills — like being a team player.A summer job may sound about as exciting as a root canal, but it doesn’t have to be. Find a job doing something that interests you. Are you a strong swimmer or guitar player? Offer to teach lessons. Love kids? Become a camp counselor. Enjoy the outdoors? Contact your local park. More of an inside person? Try working at an ice cream parlor, grocery store, or restaurant.
Another wonderful way to spend your summer is by volunteering. The act of freely giving back to others is an inspirational, moving experience that will last a lifetime. The time you spend volunteering will not only make others feel better, it will make you feel better.
When you start writing your college admissions essays, expect to see questions talking about personal growth, accomplishments, and experiences that influenced your life. Here’s a perfect way to start that essay.
You can find volunteer opportunities almost anywhere doing just about anything. If you’re not sure where to start, think about your personal passions. Do you enjoy working with people? Are you passionate about nature and the outdoors? More of a history person? There’s an opportunity for you. From soup kitchens and hospitals to building homes or acting as a museum representative, the possibilities are endless. (A great place to look for positions is VolunteerMatch.com.)
Don’t settle for just sitting around. Keep your brain active over the summer by learning something new. Try a new musical instrument, teach yourself to cook, or learn how to speak a second language.If you have a passion or a career goal, ask yourself, “What can I do to make myself more marketable?” My passion was for theatre, so I took tap lessons so I could get cast in more shows. Try to improve your skill set, whether it’s computer programs, physical strength, or a new medium or art. The challenge is there — now take it!
“I don’t have time for that.”
When I was in high school, I had a dream of one day being able to play the classical guitar. My parents surprised me and bought me one as a birthday present. All of these years later, I’ve hardly opened the case because I haven’t had time to dedicate to learning how to play.How many times have you said, “I just don’t have the time”? Well, now you do! Take advantage of your free time to do things you’ve been putting off. Redecorate your room, help your grandmother plant her garden, or finally start scrapbooking those pictures. You’ve got the time and nothing to lose!
Yes, you probably already have to do this for school. But why should you limit yourself to their selections? By all means, you need to do their reading, but don’t stop there. Head to your local library and pick up a new story. Ask your librarian to recommend something based on your interests, or look at the latest best seller’s list. Resist the urge to read on a device and actually pick up a book. Then find a quiet reading spot and relax into your new book.