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  • Writer's pictureMichele Coleman

Summer: What Should I Do?

Summer experiences are important. Just keep in mind that you don’t have to spend loads of money to gain thoughtful learning experiences. If you have the money, great, attend a program abroad, or at a college or on a mission. But having a job, volunteering in your community, or taking some classes in an area of interest will provide you with amazing and thoughtful experiences too. Travel with your family, learn a new skill, try something that challenges you. Schools don’t care if you spend the summer at Stanford or working at your local supermarket. They care that you have experiences outside of yourself where you are learning and gaining new insights. Spend your summers doing things that you are interested in, don’t volunteer, apply to a summer program or do an activity because you think that’s what admissions officers want to see, have an experience because it will help you in your life and it is something that you enjoy and will learn from.

In many ways, devising a summer plan that is unique to you is so much more interesting and impactful. It allows you to share how you are different. Many students attend summer programs and have experiences that are the same as the other 100 students participating. That doesn’t help you stand out in a crowd. So if you attend an organized program, make sure you love the topic, and then follow-up with unique activities when you return home.

Start in December to assess you interests, set some goals and start contacting people and/or researching summer programs. If you are applying to summer programs you may need to complete an essay, ask for letters of recommendations, and possibly send transcripts.

When deciding on formal programs you might ask yourself some of these questions:

1. How much time do you have for a summer program?

2. Do you have other summer commitments that you need to work around? Sports, Family Vacations, Work, etc.

3. What’s your budget? How much can you afford? Do you need financial assistance? Some summer programs offer scholarships. Remember, you don’t need to bust the budget to gain new experiences. If going away or attending a formal program is too expensive, don’t do it. Stay in your own community and gain new experiences.

4. Ask yourself why you want to attend or what you hope to accomplish.

To find formal summer programs just Google “Summer Programs for High School Students” and you will find many resources.

Here are some additional ideas for summer activities:

· Does cooking scare you, take some cooking classes.

· Girls Scouts, work on your Gold Award.

· Coach a Little League Team.

· Teach yourself code.

· Eagle Scouts, work on your Eagle Award.

· If you are an athlete you may not have time for much else then practice, tournaments, and showcases. Find small pieces of time to have experiences. Go hiking, to museums, read, etc.

· Shadow a doctor, a teacher, an engineer, a businessperson, etc.

· Feed animals at the animal shelter.

· Intern with a local company you admire

· Start a website

· Share your love of reading and volunteer at the local library

· Make some college visits

· Start a book club

· Organize a fundraiser

· Attend a leadership program

· Find programs that specialize in marine biology

· Start a garden in your backyard

· Attend an engineering summer program

· Study/Learn or improve your foreign language skills by taking classes locally or going abroad

· Read as many books as possible

· Study for the SAT or ACT

· Take an art class

· Become a certified EMT

· Run for charity

· Volunteer to teach art classes at a summer camp for kids with special needs

· Train for and run a half marathon

· Volunteer for a local organization/charity

· Get a Part-Time Job

If you need more ideas or have questions on what might work best, contact me!



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