How to Make the Most of Summer — While Doing What You Love
I can remember my brothers frantically trying to find a job or another viable summer commitment in May every year. Our allowances for school lunches and weekend activities stopped the moment school ended, and pleas for advances were met with little sympathy from my mom who’d been reminding us about this day for months. A job was ideal, because it brought in a potentially larger stream of income than the allowance, but other worthwhile pursuits could nullify the pocket money ban — my month-long ballet workshop, for example, or my sister’s volunteer work at a kids art camp.
What my brothers found, and forgot, year after year was that the best opportunities had been swooped up by May. Mid-February might feel early to start contemplating summer plans, but, in truth, you need to start investigating your options sooner rather than later. This way — you’ll get to choose from a slew of exciting prospects instead of being stuck with whatever might be left. Need some fuel to get you thinking? Try exploring one of these avenues, and see what you come up with:
1. Apply for a College Summer Program
Many colleges offer summer programs for high school students that last anywhere from one to six weeks. If you live near a university that hosts a high school program, you can attend as a day student, but in order to get the most out of these opportunities, consider walking in the shoes of a college student: stay in the dorm, eat at the dining halls, explore campus with new friends from around the country. In addition to getting a taste of university life, you’ll earn college credit for the courses you take.
These programs are great resume boosters, but more importantly they give high schoolers a chance to immerse themselves in something they feel passionately about. Throughout the country there are tracks for everyone from aspiring sports writers to American history buffs. Here’s a small sampling to give you sense for what’s out there, but you know yourself best. Start scoping out schools and locations that interest you.
As a high school student, it can be difficult to get a job or internship in a field that interests you, but many organizations welcome volunteers of all ages. If the task of finding those organizations feels daunting, start by thinking about who you are and what you like to do.
Are you an introvert who loves to read? Volunteer at your local library. Most libraries accept volunteers for everything from helping patrons get library cards to hosting story time with kids.
In general, Children’s Hospitals only allow volunteers ages 18 or older, but many hospitals have summer volunteer programs for high school students. Vanderbilt Hospital’s Strive Program, for example, enables high schoolers to participate in educational sessions, build relationships with patients and families, and work on a collaborative summer project.
Get outside! The Nature Conservancy is a national non-profit with volunteer opportunities in every state. Upcoming opportunities in Georgia, for example, include invasive species removal in Marshall Forest, trail clearing at Black Buff’s Reserve, and restoring rare herbs at Coosa Valley Prairies. Most events last 1 day and include a picnic lunch.
Are you a good conversationalist? Or do you like to sit back and listen to people’s stories? Either way, volunteering at a nursing home could be the perfect opportunity for you. Many nursing homes have positions specifically geared at high school volunteers. They include calling out numbers or helping players identify the numbers during bingo and playing nail salon to help elderly women feel young and pretty.
3. Get a Job
Although you’re unlikely to get a job at a hospital or a state conservancy until college, there are an array of fun job opportunities for high schoolers. You might be surprised to find how few teenagers garner legitimate work experience while in high school. A consistent job looks great on college applications, because it shows responsibility, dedication, and maturity. Also, it’s easier to find employment as a college student if you already have something on your resume. You likely have some work ideas of your own, but in case you need it, here’s a list to help you brainstorm:
-Scoop Ice Cream
-Get a suntan as a golf caddy
-Get a suntan as a lifeguard
-Tutor kids who need to catch-up over the summer
-Greet restaurant goers as a host or hostess
-Help people pick out outfits while working retail (Bonus: you’ll get a discount!)
-Work at a sports camp, art camp, dance camp, or music camp
4. Get Creative
If none of the above strikes your fancy, start thinking about things you’ve always wanted to do but can’t find the time to explore when school’s in session.
Do you enjoy writing but wish you could try your hand at more than an English paper? Wake-up every morning and make yourself write for an hour. Some days, especially the first days, will be tough, but you’ll start to surprise yourself with the stories and poems you create.
Is art class a breath of fresh air during your school day? Take a pottery class this summer and learn how to throw your own mugs.
Do you wish you had more language options than Spanish, French, and Latin? Invest in language-learning software and start learning Chinese or Russian. As you get comfortable with some of the phrases, watch movies with subtitles and cook authentic cuisine to go with your screening.
We all need time to relax and refuel, but summer will feel longer and more rewarding if you take time to fill it something worthwhile. Happy Planning!