Although sitting on your couch and watching everything Netflix has to offer sounds ideal at first, it can get boring very fast (trust me). On top of that, your parents might be breathing down your neck for you to be productive during the break, and your resume probably does need some sprucing up. But don’t worry! Here is a list of 5 productive – but still fun! – summer activities to please everyone and to become an even stronger college applicant.
One of the best decisions I made during high school was to take different courses at different American universities during the summer. The summer before my junior year, I took an economics course and an American government course at Georgetown University. Although Georgetown wasn’t my favorite school – and I decided then and there that I would be neither an economics major nor a political science major – I began to realize what I wanted in a school and its surrounding city.
I fell in love with DC and even toured some of the other schools within the nation’s capital to see if they interested me. The summer before my senior year, I went to New York University’s Tisch School of Performing Arts where I took different classes on the Meisner acting technique. Again, I fell in love with the city but decided that I wanted a college with a physical, unified campus and I wanted to earn a Bachelors of Arts (BA) rather than a Bachelors of Fine Arts (BFA).
These experiences were essential in not only allowing me to take interesting courses in new places and to make new friends, but it also helped me decide what I wanted in my future university, where I wanted to be for the next four years of my life, and what kind of courses I wanted to be taking during that time. All in all, I would highly recommend studying at different universities across the country to see what colleges, classes, and cities work for you!
Volunteering your time at a local food bank, community garden, walking dogs at the shelter or shelving books at the library is a great way to not only get involved in your community but also looks great on your resume. Volunteer work shows that you are a kind, caring individual who gives back and thinks about others. In addition, working different jobs in different environments can help you find your passion, possible college majors, or potential, future careers.
During my high school career, I was a counselor for numerous, local summer camps ranging from theater to sleep-away. I even created my own kid’s summer camp with one of my friends! Not only is becoming a camp counselor a great way to make some extra dough, it also enhances your communication and people skills as you work with kids, parents, and other adults on a day-to-day basis. This is a great way to get involved in your community, have a blast, meet a ton of people, and explore one of your, many, passions.
As a high school student, finding internships may be a bit difficult, but use your parents, older siblings, and schools as resources to find places that may accept a younger intern. At the very least, reach out to people via email – make sure to double-check your spelling and grammar, and keep it very formal (no texting lingo!) – with a cover letter in the body of the email and your resume attached. Ask if they are looking for an intern over the summer – as a high school student, don’t expect to be paid – or, at the very least, if you could shadow the person for a few weeks.
Interning and shadowing can bulk up your resume, continue to help you find your passion, and create solid contacts and networks within your desired field (which will come in handy later down the road, I promise!). It also gets you out of the house, and your parents out of your hair.
Obviously, a summer isn’t quite complete without a trip abroad. Whether it’s traveling with your family or friends, taking a tour, volunteering or studying abroad, it goes without saying that leaving the country is always a plus. To learn, respect, and thrive in a new culture and environment is a critical skill that, in my opinion, can only be experienced abroad. Plus, you can try new foods, explore new languages, make new friends, and visit some very cool places to make your summer activities a memorable investment of your time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jolie Blair is a rising senior at Emory University from Sun Valley, Idaho. She is double majoring in Theater Studies and Public Health and has a passion for the arts, writing, and traveling. She studied abroad for the 2016 fall semester in Rome, Italy and had an experience of a lifetime, which she loves to share with those who want to listen (and even those who don’t like her 140lb Great Dane!).