Making the Most of Summer Vacation

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Summer vacation is the best time of year – no more getting up early, no more spending all day at school, no more homework! While it is absolutely the time for relaxing, spending time with friends, going on vacations, and hanging out by the pool, it is also a great time to engage in activities that can boost your chances of being accepted to your dream college.

We’ve talked before about the importance of engaging in meaningful activities for college admissions purposes, and in a similar vein, it is also important to show colleges that you utilized your school breaks for more than just playing video games. (Of course, it is summer vacation so you can definitely play video games if that’s what you like. Just don’t let that be the only thing you do all summer!) Summer vacation is your chance to participate in activities that will further your interests, demonstrate your commitment to a cause that’s important to you, gain experience in a particular field, or set yourself up for an academically successful school year.

Read on for some suggestions for making the most of your summer!

 

Five Suggestions for Summer Activities

Volunteer

Volunteering is one of the best ways to utilize your free time during summer vacation. Not only does it offer a chance to engage in meaningful work by giving back to the community, it is also an opportunity to explore your interests and demonstrate your dedication to a cause close to your heart. If you think you might want to pursue a career in veterinary medicine one day, spend some time volunteering at an animal shelter. If you love working with kids, keep an eye out for volunteer opportunities with women and children’s shelters. If you’re developing an interest in nursing or medicine, there are many hospital volunteer programs where you can gain valuable experience.  Regardless of your individual interests, volunteering your time and talents can be both personally fulfilling and beneficial to the community.

 

Get a job

Getting a summer job is often overlooked as a valuable summer activity, but it shouldn’t be! Having a job demonstrates to colleges that you are responsible and reliable. If you can find a way to get paid for pursuing a field of interest, that’s great! But if you have a job scooping ice cream, that’s great, too! (And who isn’t interested in ice cream?) Any job you get, whether it’s babysitting, working as a lifeguard or camp counselor, or answering phones at your dad’s friend’s construction company, will give you real world work experience and the opportunity to develop professional skills.

 

Take a class

You might think that the last thing you want to spend your summer doing is taking a class. Isn’t summer supposed to be a break from that? But actually, summer offers you a chance to take classes you want to take instead of being bogged down by classes you have to take. Being interested in something makes you interesting, which you can demonstrate to colleges by actively pursuing those interests. There are often summer programs at colleges or even summer school classes with offerings beyond traditional academic classes.

Additionally, traditional academic classes can be a wise time investment for the summer months. Whether it’s to get ahead for the upcoming year or to free up space in your academic schedule for a class you really want to take during the school year, a summer school class might be just what you need. Selecting a summer school course is part of a broader course-sequencing plan that you should consider carefully in light of your personal interests, capacity for coursework, and goals.

 

Take a trip

For many students, it is difficult to commit to summer activities because of family travel plans. If this is the case for you, you can still take an active approach to your summer by taking advantage of the opportunities family vacations present. Traveling is a wonderful chance to expand your horizons and explore new places. Do a little research into your travel destination to see if you can find some activities or sights to see that your parents may have missed. If something grabs your attention, talk to your parents about including it in the travel itinerary. You never know when you might experience something that could become a great college essay topic (or at the very least, an epic Instagram post)!

 

Play

Don’t forget to have some fun this summer! Summer is the perfect time to indulge in the hobbies and activities that make you happy. For personal reasons, simply enjoying your hobbies is rewarding enough. However, if you’re thinking ahead to college, you might want to consider ways you can tangibly demonstrate those interests. For example, if you like to read, start a book club. If you’re crafty, learn to knit and gather a group of friends to knit blankets to donate to a homeless shelter. Sign up for a summer sports league, keep practicing until you’ve baked the perfect pie (I’ll judge), challenge yourself to become a runner and sign up for a 5K at the end of the summer, or participate in community theatre. Whatever your interests, see what you can do to take them a step further and create a more meaningful experience for yourself and your college applications.

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