How to Make the Most of Summer (with Little Planning)
Summer is here! Congrats to all of you for making it through another school year. However, just because you are out of school doesn’t mean you need to entirely unplug from your studies. While class can be a bit of a drag, especially for those who prefer more open-ended and in-depth learning, summer is an important time to enrich yourself in ways normal classroom activities fail to do. Thankfully, you can benefit from a loose summer schedule by customizing an educational program best suited to your interests and needs. So what exactly should you do during this time? Consider these activities:
1. Summer Reading
Reading is not only important for personal growth and development but also for college applications and test prep. Many colleges ask student applicants what are some of their favorite books. Believe or not, listing Harry Potter is not going to give the best image to a prospective university. Instead, admission officers want students to show their maturity and sophistication by listing challenging and prestigious books. You don’t necessarily need to read Infinite Jest to come across as a strong reader, but digging into thoughtful and challenging books will really help expand your mind, vocabulary, and the depth of your academic profile.
2. Test Prep
During the school year, you probably try to make some effort to practice for the SAT and ACT. However, the reality is that you don’t really have a lot of free time to do so. You shouldn’t feel bad, but realize that summer is one of the best times to buckle down and study for these tests. Fortunately, the ACT offers a June test after most students are out of school, so you can even get a little cram in before the exam this weekend. For SAT or ACT, it is best to practice consistently over a long period of time. So whatever you decide on test prep, make sure you can carry your habits into the fall, when you may have to split time between regular class and preparing for September and October exams.
3. College Admissions Applications
While most deadlines are not until December or January, it would be in your best interest to complete your college apps as soon as possible. Summer presents the best opportunity to focus on writing countless essays, securing your letters of recommendation, and crafting a solid resume. Even putting together rough drafts of your applications will go a long way when it finally turns fall and you are balancing school work with applications. Don’t let procrastination be the reason you don’t get accepted into your dream school. A well-written essay goes an incredibly long way--sometimes even more so than your academic profile.
4. Dual-Credit Classes
Community colleges often offer classes over the summer that high school students can take for high school and college credit (dual credit). If you want to free up more time in your regular school year schedule for classes that are more relevant to your future major or career, then taking dual-credit classes is a great option. While it may be too late to attend the June-July courses, typically colleges will offer a set of July-August courses. Some popular classes to take over the summer include American history, government, and economics.
5. Creative Enrichment
You don’t necessarily need to do a program focused specifically on education or academics to still have meaningful experiences. In fact, it is preferred that you pursue creative endeavors, such as the fine arts, music, and creative writing, because it will help you think outside of the box in any career. And it will be really helpful for college applications. If you need a place to start, cities and universities have plenty of camps and programs geared towards boosting awareness and appreciation of the arts.
A lot of colleges will be curious about your extracurricular experiences and how they have shaped you into the person you are today. Traveling is a wonderful way to understand various cultures and people. But you don’t necessarily have to go on a monthlong journey through Europe to get a meaningful experience. Sometimes exploring a new part of your own town is enough. Admit it: there’s at least one thing you’ve wanted to do recently that you haven’t had enough time for because of a pile of school work. Explore! Learn! Discover!
While there are many ways to make the most of your summer, the key is that you keep your mind active and not glued to the computer screen or television. Streaming online videos can be a "sometimes activity"--just like reading a great book or designing a highly functional phone app. Summer is an open time, and its freedoms allow for some wonderful projects and activities.
If you need a little academic boost or guidance during the summer, we at B2A can help with test prep, college apps, and even general enrichment. Check out our services to see how our programs can help you have a productive and fruitful summer!