As summer approaches, this is a great time for students to re-charge their batteries. Rather than following the routine of school, extracurricular activities, and homework, the days can be less structured, but at the same time, purposeful.
Don’t worry if your teen hasn’t figured out how to spend his/her summer – there are plenty of options! The important thing is to do something. You may have figured out by now that I love “Top Ten” lists: below is Pamela K. Pik’s Top Ten List of Ideas for Summer, which I first posted on my website two years ago:
- Work for pay. It’s not too late to line something up: check the job board at your school. Think about people you know who could use yard work, babysitting, errands for an elderly neighbor, etc. Be creative – if you like to write, see if your local newspaper could use a part-time reporter where you are paid by the story. If you are busy during the day, see if the local pizza place needs someone to bus tables in the evening.
- Volunteer in your community. Find a community service project through your school, a local church, or non-profit agency. These range from building and fixing houses to being a mentor to a younger child. If you see a need that isn’t being served, organize and start something!
- Take a class. Enrich yourself by taking a class at a community college, high school summer school, or a college campus away from home. You could pursue a hobby such as photography or study something more academic such as computer programming. There are many classes that can be taken online.
- Start your own business. A student I know had so many families in need of a babysitter that she and her friend set up a little day camp for young children at her home. Summer allows you the time to set up a business (product, marketing) that you can run during the school year.
- Apply for a position as an assistant coach at a sport camp or referee. If you are a soccer player, see if the local summer soccer coach needs help with the younger kids. Summer baseball leagues need umpires, etc. Most are paying jobs, but if not you will enjoy keeping in touch with the sport.
- Keep up with your “school” sport. Stay in shape by attending a sports camp that suits your age and level; some are local and some are held at colleges. If you can line up your sport with a college you are interested in, great idea!
- Travel; use foreign language expertise. There are many organized programs in which you can see another part of the world, stay with a local family, and speak the local language. Alternatively, pick a spot in the U.S. that you’ve always wanted to visit and plan a trip with friends or family. Make a journal of your experiences.
- Visit colleges. Narrow down your college list by visiting colleges, preferably with a family member. Whether you can do several “day trips” or plan a longer trip where you see several in a region, summer is a good time to see campuses. Even when school is not in full-session, there are usually plenty of students around. Make sure you plan ahead and make reservations for tours and information sessions where necessary.
- Start your college applications. If you will be applying to college in the fall, summer is a good time to get a head start on the Common Application, particularly the Personal Statement and supplemental essays, which take some time to write. (The new Common Application isn’t “live” until July 1, but you can find a PDF version with the list of essay questions at www.commonapp.org.) Ask a teacher, consultant or other mentor to check for grammar and give feedback.
- Read. Read three books that aren’t on anyone’s list but your own. Read for fun and read to learn something; you will improve your vocabulary without really knowing it.
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