How to Use Your Summers in High School

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    Summer vacation is a great time to relax, recuperate, and have fun. That said, the most meaningful summer breaks are also productive. In addition to having fun, high schoolers should consider getting a job, pursuing an internship, attending a pre-college summer program, or deepening their involvement with their extracurricular activities. Not only will this make their summer vacation more meaningful, but it will also enhance their college applications.

    In this article, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best ways to spend your summer, with a particular focus on summer internships for high schoolers, summer jobs for high schoolers, and other summer activities that impress colleges. So if you’re wondering what to do the summer before senior year, the summer before your junior year, or any other summer throughout high school, read on for helpful tips and insights! 

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    7 productive ways to spend your summer

    Engaging in meaningful and productive summer activities is a great way to enhance your college applications. What’s more, it can be a particularly helpful application strategy for students intent on attending an Ivy League college. After all, colleges want to admit passionate and driven students, capable of success, both inside and outside the classroom. 

    So if you’re asking yourself questions like, how should students spend their summer vacation? and what summer activities do colleges like? consider some of the options below. 


    Get an internship

    Summer internships are a great way for high school students to gain work experience while bolstering their college applications. They are also a great experience for high school students wondering how to be productive over summer break. 

    There are certain rules that companies have to follow, so do your research and make sure you have the right qualifications. For instance, most companies can’t hire students under 16 years of age. Reach out to your high school guidance counselor about opportunities that may be available to you. Check in with your parents, teachers, and other trusted adults as well.

    Overall, summer internships can help students explore prospective careers and college majors, while gaining real-world experience, skills, and the chance to build up a professional network in the job industry. Knowing how to write a resume and a cover letter for a summer internship is also great practice! 



    Colleges want to admit passionate and thoughtful students who are willing to engage in their communities. This is why volunteer experience is one of the best things you can add to your college application. It shows that you are invested in your community and are on a path to self-growth. 

    Completing volunteer hours can be easily completed as a high school student. You can spend a couple of hours a week volunteering during the summer and still have plenty of free time to have fun and maybe even have a part-time job. Read more about the importance of volunteer hours and how they can help enhance your college applications.


    Get a summer job

    That brings us to the next opportunity on how to make the most out of your summer. Spending time working a summer job can help you save money for college. It will also teach you how to collaborate effectively and work with a team. The best summer jobs for high schoolers will help you gain confidence while establishing a healthy work ethic. Applying for summer jobs for high school students is also a great way to practice writing a resume and maybe even a cover letter

    Broadly speaking, getting a summer job is the first step towards your independence. Not only are you earning money, but you are building yourself a successful resume for future employment. Having a job helps you navigate social skills, time management, and more responsibility. Depending on your summer experience, you might even consider continuing to work a part-time job for high schoolers during the school year. 


    Take pre-college courses

    Another way to be productive during summer vacation is to enroll in college courses. There are tons of different programs that local junior colleges can offer high school students for the summer. They are considered advanced education courses and most high schools also give you credits to graduate as well. 

    Not only are you staying ahead in your academic career, but you are also already earning college credits that can be transferred to the degree that you are interested in when you go off to college full-time.


    Enroll in a pre-college program

    You may also want to review a list of pre-college summer programs to see if any opportunities match your interests. Pre-college summer programs are incredibly diverse. Some programs focus on the arts, humanities, STEM subjects, and more! From riding your bike across the country to attending The School of New York Times Summer Academy, there are countless opportunities available. 

    For more information on why summer programs are important for college admissions, read our article on Breaking Down Pre-College Summer Programs for further insights.


    Study abroad

    This isn’t very common, but being able to study abroad while you are in high school is an experience like no other. This means you’ll be able to explore the world and different cultures while enhancing your education all at once. Not only will you have a new, life-changing experience under your belt, but colleges love to see these types of experiences in your application. 

    These kinds of experiences are perfect for future resumes and your college application because they show that you are independent, motivated, and comfortable in new environments while meeting new people.


    Pursue a passion project

    Other productive things to do over the summer include pursuing a “passion project.” A passion project is an independently designed project that is completed outside of school. Ideally, passion projects should be fairly ambitious and require extensive planning and self-reflection. A passion project can take on many forms. Depending on your interests and goals, you might choose to:
    • Start a small business or nonprofit
    • Design and lead a community project
    • Make a podcast
    • Join a political campaign
    • Write a book

    Ultimately a passion project allows you to challenge yourself, develop new skills, and gain confidence. It’s important to note that college admissions officers love passion projects. Overall a passion project is a great way to be productive during summer vacation.

    How to have a fun and meaningful summer vacation

    Worrying about school and work all summer isn’t something that you want to put on yourself. It is also important that you focus on your happiness and mental health. There are five different ways to ensure that you have a happy and positive summer along with a productive one. These are the five elements that can contribute to a well-balanced and happy life.


    When you are engulfed in something, time flies for you. Especially if you are focused and working hard. If you are working on something that you like to do then time ceases to exist. 

    Positive demeanor

    Your outlook on situations is going to drive the experiences and emotions that you feel. It’s important to live your life with compassion, love, joy, and cheer.


    Another thing that will drive your happiness up is engagement in your relationships. Whether you are spending quality time with a person or building up your network, do it with confidence. 


    Accomplishment is important to your happiness because you will feel the achievement and accomplishment of completion. Once you get another step closer to your goals, your happiness will skyrocket. 


    Make sure that what you’re doing has the intention of accomplishing a greater goal. You want to always be working towards something that will make you happier in the long run.

    Keeping these key elements in mind means you are one step closer to understanding how to have a fun and productive summer.

    Key takeaways and moving forward

    It’s no secret that college admission is becoming increasingly competitive. This is why it’s important to stand out from other applicants by engaging in thoughtful and meaningful summer experiences. There are lots of summer jobs for high school students with no experience, as well as many other ways to have a productive summer. This article reviews some of the best ways to take advantage of your summers while you are in high school. 

    Depending on your specific goals, you may choose to brighten your community by volunteering, getting a local job, or continuing your academic studies at a junior college. The bottom line is that you can always be doing more with your time and that this is one of the many things that college admissions officers look for in an applicant. You may also want to spend time studying for the SATs and visiting college campuses. The most important thing is to spend your time wisely while also having fun with your friends and family.

    If you have any questions or concerns about college prep or applications, reach out to learn more about our services. Here at Prepory, we have the tools to help you reach all of your college goals. 

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