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High School Students Should Make the Most of the Summer

by and on June 08, 2017 5:00 AM

The prom was fun, classes are coming to an end and  finals will soon be behind you. Sports teams have done well this year, and you are taking end-of-the year AP tests and the SAT.

Summer vacation is ahead.

It’s important to unwind, relax, have fun with your friends, play some video games and go on a family vacation. Have a great time, but also a productive time this summer.

Here are some suggestions of activities you may want to include in your summer plans:

■ Take a college-level course.

If there is a subject which you are passionate about, or a class you can’t fit into your high school schedule, consider taking it over the summer. Maybe you want to take college level chemistry, focus on French or Arabic, or try an art history course. Consider taking a class online or at a nearby campus.  You’ll get three to four college level credits which could fulfill a high school requirement, or transfer to wherever you eventually choose to attend college.

■ Consider a part-time job.

Working is a great way to learn responsibility, gain new skills and start saving money for college expenses or the extra things you'd like to buy. Waiting tables, being an assistant camp counselor, working in a store, doing yard work or babysitting are all possibilities.

■ Explore an educational or adventure programs.

If you’d like to try living on a far-away campus during the summer, Cornell University, University of Rochester and Tufts University have long-established high school summer sessions, offering short courses, pre-college and college level classes, along with campus activities designed for high school students.

There are also organizations, such as National Outdoor Leadership School and Where There Be Dragons, that offer international and outdoor adventure opportunities.

■ Volunteer.

What do you care about? The environment, sports, politics, history, children with disabilities? Are there teams, camps, special programs or museums for which you can volunteer where you can be of service to others and make a contribution?

■ Learn or acquire a new skill.

Get certification in CPR or lifeguarding, take tennis lessons, learn to cook or start playing the piano.

■ Make time to read books, magazines and blogs.

Reading helps improve vocabulary and comprehension, skills needed for the SAT and ACT and for current high school and future college courses. Find out what books you are required to read in next year’s high school English class. Reading some of these books over the summer will help with your time management once school begins, and help you get a head start on the school year.

I also encourage you to read just for pleasure and enjoyment over your summer break. A good book offers a chance to imagine, to learn and to escape.

■ Visit some colleges in which you have interest.

Schedule a tour and information session with the admissions office and make contacts with the admissions staff and your student tour guide. While there will be few students on campus during the summer, you still can ask lots of questions about campus life and academic majors and see the physical environment of each college.  

Make the most of your summer. Look for opportunities to make sure you have both a fun and productive summer ahead.

Dr. Heather Ricker-Gilbert provides individualized college admissions counseling for high school students and their families. Contact her at


This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

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