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How to Spend Your Summer Vacation Wisely

May 14th, 2015 | College Admissions, College Preparation

College-bound high school students may feel burned out and just want to relax all summer long.  While that’s certainly one option, summertime can also be a great opportunity for rising juniors and seniors to have many interesting new experiences while also enhancing their college resumes.  This can be done in so many ways including learning and developing new skills, gaining experience in a field of interest as a summer intern or volunteer, earning some money for college, or just having fun in a structured program with other students.  Summer activities can influence a student’s admissions potential at some institutions.  Here are some of the seemingly endless possibilities for summer:

Obtain an internship or perform volunteer work

Internships and volunteer positions can give students opportunities to learn new information and develop skills, as well as help to solve problems they would never have known about otherwise.  Students can enter an internship in an area of interest, as a way to help figure out if they are indeed suited for that field.  They can find a volunteer position that enables them to pursue one of their passions.  For example, a potential pre-med student can get a position working in a research lab or hospital.  A potential business student can volunteer in a marketing or public relations firm.  A current or future environmentalist can work with rangers in a forest or as a docent in a zoo or aquarium.  The possibilities are endless.  All it takes is the will to figure out where these opportunities exist and how to access them.  Here are a couple of links where you can find many summer programs, volunteer, or internship opportunities for teens.

Attend an academic summer program

Summertime can be great for further developing current academic interests or pursuing new ones.  Many local, national and international colleges offer summer classes for high school students.  Here’s a link to some local or statewide university opportunities. Students can follow a passion, improve their academic prowess in a field in which they’d struggled or learn about something completely new and different.  The residential college programs can give students a taste of what it would be like to live in a dorm.  Local students can still get a sense of what a college campus is like and what they might prefer in the size of, or class offerings at a particular school.  Students can study computer and technology related subjects, as well as writing, science, movement and exercise, or they can even study ancient artifacts.  The highly academic programs can help students to develop their skills for the college level work that awaits them.

Attend a summer camp or travel program

These can be local, national or international.  They range from technology camps held on the University of Washington campus to rafting and hiking with Outward Bound in Costa Rica.  International volunteer programs can help students to see how people around the world live and enable them to be involved in solving global problems.  Here’s a link to one website that offers many affordable international volunteer opportunities for high school and college students.  International travel programs can also simply enable students to go to parts of the world where they’ve never been, although these basic travel programs tend to be the most costly.

Study for standardized tests and work on college essays

Both rising juniors and seniors can work on first taking or on improving their SAT or ACT scores, as well as their SAT Subject Tests.  Rising seniors can also start working on their college essays once the prompts are released from their colleges of choice or the Common App.  Studying for these tests and working on the essays can alleviate some of the stress of trying to both study for school and do test preparation during the school year.  Summertime test prep can allow students more time to keep up or improve their grades to make their high school transcripts really shine prior to submitting them to colleges during their application season in the fall of their senior year.

Get a job

This is a great choice for those students who need to help pay for their college and who want or need to provide for their own spending money.  College admissions officials will likely look upon a summer job as a sign that a student is a hard worker.  It will give the student an employment history, and if the job is actually in one of the student’s fields of interest, it may improve his or her job prospects in that field after college.

Sandweiss Test Prep offers summer SAT/ACT courses, as well as private tutoring and admissions consulting services to assist you in making the best decisions about your academic future. Contact us today to learn more.