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College Resources

How Do I Plan for Summer Activities?

Summer is the perfect time to explore new opportunities and interests. Relaxation is great and you deserve it after a busy school year, but you should still seek out occasions for productivity and for personal growth. How do you accomplish that? It’s easy - think about looking for a job, internship, volunteer position, or summer program. 


A summer job will certainly prove highly valuable. Not only will you be earning some cold, hard cash, you’ll also gain job skills, insight and experience. Additionally, summer work will allow you to flex your maturity muscles and teach you about reliability and responsibility. Understand that employment can take many forms ranging from babysitting, tutoring and mowing lawns to part- or full-time employment for a business or corporation. To find a job, you may need to network a bit. Ask your relatives, neighbors and teachers for help. You can also conduct research online, search school bulletin boards for postings/announcements and of course check out the local newspapers.

Internships & Job Shadowing

Beyond the casual summer gig, internships and job shadowing are both great for career exploration. If you have a future major in mind, what better way to learn if it matches your needs, skills, and interests than by observing a professional on the job or working under the direction of an expert? Of course, finding internships or someone to shadow can take time; network and talk to those you know in careers that interest you. If you don’t have any direct contacts, call the human resources department or send email queries to companies and organizations in your area.

Job shadowing is typically a short-term activity that will not swallow up your entire summer break. However, it will still give you valuable insight into whether that career or field is something you want to pursue. Internships, like jobs, may last longer and require greater commitment on your part. If you are able to land an internship or shadow experience, make the most of it. Be observant, ask meaningful questions, take notes and, of course, research the company before you begin. Also remember to dress appropriately, arrive on time, be courteous, and send a thank you note when the job ends.

Community Service

Volunteering is another fantastic way to gain experience and insight. Opportunities are as enriching as they are endless and many are available within your own city or neighborhood. As an added benefit, college admissions officers appreciate that community service calls for maturity, initiative, selflessness, a strong work ethic and even creativity. Serving others can include informal ventures such as engaging in a neighborhood clean-up project, tutoring at a local school or spending time at a retirement center. It can also involve working with a formal program such as the Red Cross or Habitat for Humanity.

Summer Programs & Travel

There are a wide variety of summer program options, ranging from taking classes on a college campus (some even offer college credit) to exploring the wilderness on a rock-climbing excursion. Some pre-college programs are specific to an interest area such as engineering, nursing, or performing arts. On-campus pre-college programs can give you a taste of college life by offering the opportunity to live in the residence halls, eat in the cafeteria, participate in activities, and utilize campus facilities. Many campuses also offer athletic camps if you want to brush up on skills or meet coaches. If you love the outdoors, you can check out an adventure camp. There are also a host of camps at which you might be able to serve as a student leader for younger campers.

Traveling is a superb way to spend your summer. There are all sorts of unique opportunities available to you, such as coast-to-coast biking and a variety of language or cultural immersion programs. If you’re able to take a trip with your family or participate in an exciting summer travel program, make sure you journal your activities. Not only will travel enrich your life, but adventures such as these also make great topics for a college essay!

No matter where you’ll be spending the summer months, know that you can have a fun and fulfilling vacation. Ideally, you should start thinking about your summer plans in the late winter. This ensures that you’ll have plenty of time to vet your prospects and cement any arrangements. And, as a bonus, all this preparation should help to chase away the winter doldrums.

For more ideas on how to spend your summer vacation, check out our article on summer programs.


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Don Munce