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How to spend a productive summer vacation?

By: Zahin Tasnin

Summer vacation is a great time to try out new extracurricular activities and explore different career fields that can be time-consuming during the school year. Moreover, dedicating time and effort to pursue opportunities can impress college admission officers. Trying new things also develops your confidence, self-motivation, and courage to take on challenges. How can you be productive during the upcoming summer break? Check out these exciting and meaningful activities you can accomplish this year:

  • Take a college class: Many colleges, ranging from community colleges to Ivy Leagues schools, offer a handful of credit and non-credit college classes for high school students. Taking these classes can help in determining fields of interest and a future major more easily. In addition, many colleges accept these classes for major or elective credit requirements. In many cases, students can also save on tuition by taking these classes before college and graduating early. Some programs are free, while others come with a heavy price, but never be afraid to ask for financial aid. Besides college courses, some colleges also offer specialized summer programs. For example, MIT Launch teaches students to start real companies, whereas the Mock Trial Summer Institute at UCLA, students train in public speaking and preparation for case trials.

  • Volunteer activities: Volunteering during the summer is a great way to learn about different fields and workplaces with little to no required qualifications. It's a great way to give back to the community and show dedication. Committing to a long-term volunteering opportunity can demonstrate your motivation and entrepreneurial spirit to the admissions officers. Volunteering opportunities can be at the local, regional, or even national level, including helping at food banks or even teaching English to immigrant kids.

  • Find an internship or a job: Besides just volunteering, an internship or a job during the last two years of high school can make you stand out. While these opportunities for high school students are rare, you can find some unpaid and paid opportunities in businesses, labs, or even non-profits. Regardless of where you work, whether as a crew member at McDonald's, or an intern at a doctor's office, all work experience showcases your maturity, responsibility, and time management skills.

  • Test Prep: It is never too early to start getting ready for college. Even though many colleges have made testing optional, a high SAT or ACT score can strengthen your college application. While most students don't take their SAT or ACT until junior year, you can always take practice tests, or PSATs, during your freshman and sophomore years to stay on track.

While summer vacations don't start until June or even later, many programs and internships have deadlines during the spring. Hence, make sure to look out for strict deadlines and save enough time to finish the application or get recommendation letters. Even though it may seem overwhelming to find opportunities for yourself, always feel free to reach out to your guidance counselor, relatives, or friends for assistance. College applications and standing out amongst thousands of applicants is a daunting task. However, with some effort and time, anything is possible!

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