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8 Easy Ways to Have a Meaningful Summer Vacation

Worried about wasting the whole summer? Make it count with these eight ways to enjoy the long break and do something meaningful at the same time.

It’s finally summer! After a long year of studying hard while balancing sports, clubs, jobs, and more, you can finally relax. While there’s nothing wrong with taking time off during the summer, it’s important to remember that colleges also take what you do during this free time into consideration. Summer is a great time to recharge and get ready to tackle the next school year, but it can also be productive if you take advantage of it. Here are eight ways to make summer break more worthwhile.

1. Create a routine 

This isn’t as much for colleges as it is for yourself and your own well-being. Having a day-to-day routine during the summer weeks can help you avoid severe boredom. Personally, I find that if I don’t have a routine, I feel like I’ve done nothing all day. No one likes feeling unaccomplished! Plus, sleeping too much can cause you to feel lethargic. Try to go to sleep at a decent hour (teens need around eight to 10 hours a day, according to the CDC) and wake up at the same time each morning. Eat three meals a day, do some type of physical activity, and incorporate some reading too. Feel free to use your summer weekends to stay up late and sleep till noon, but make sure to have some schedule in your life. 

2. Go to camp 

Even though you may be too old for most summer camps, no one says you can’t help! Being a counselor is a terrific way to get volunteer hours and do something meaningful with your summer. However, there are some camps that you aren’t too old for. Many colleges around the country offer summer programs for a week or two on campus or online, where students can learn more about veterinary sciences, astronomy, business, law, engineering, technology, art, and more. Some of these programs are quite pricy, but many offer scholarships and financial aid. Some camps are even open to middle school–aged kids as well.  may need to keep this tip in mind for next year, however, as these programs are usually competitive and follow strict application deadlines.

Related: Why It's a Good Idea to Pursue a Unique Summer Program

3. Get a job 

Part-time jobs are an amazing way to show maturity on a college application as well as learn responsibility. Your summer job doesn’t have to be fancy either; ideas include babysitting or pet sitting, lifeguarding, waiting tables, washing dishes, or working at a store. Most of these jobs require little to no experience and no car while still providing valuable job experience and a weekly paycheck.  

4. Look for an internship 

The wonderful thing about internships is you can learn how to do a job and figure out if it’s something you may be interested in pursuing in the future. Unfortunately, the most difficult part of an internship is getting one. My suggestion is to use your connections. If you have a friend whose parents are in the field you’re interested in, don’t be afraid to contact them and ask if they know about any internship or shadowing opportunities. They may know someone who knows someone who could help you out!

5. Tour some colleges 

For high schoolers who don’t have time during the school year to tour campus, the summer offers a chance to take many road trips to visit colleges. You can make a family trip out of it by exploring the city of the college you’re touring as well. This is another important part of the campus visit process, as you always want to be comfortable in the environment around your university. 

Related: 3 Important Reminders Before You Go on Campus Visits

6. Travel somewhere new

Who says traveling isn’t a fantastic way to spend your summer? However, it’s important to realize that traveling isn’t about going somewhere extravagant or far away—it’s about making memories and seeing something new. A trip to the beach or an area of your state you haven’t explored yet is easier than jet-setting to somewhere on your bucket list and can be just as fun.

7. Volunteer your time

Whether it’s for a few hours, a week, or a daily occurrence, volunteering is fulfilling and gives you a sense of happiness that working doesn’t. Some great places to volunteer include homeless shelters, pet shelters, and soup kitchens.  none of these options interest you, a quick Google search of “volunteering near me” may offer more unique options. 

8. Brush up on your reading and math 

Working on your reading or math skills will keep your brain fresh and ready for the upcoming school year and can also help you prep for the ACT, PSAT, and SAT. Khan Academy has a great free program to practice for these standardized tests.  keep a list of the books you read this summer for future reference. One of the most common essay prompts for college admission asks about impactful books, so keeping a record of everything you read will help you keep things straight when it’s time to start writing. 

Related: 4 Reasons Why You Should Study for the SAT and ACT This Summer

Whether it’s a sport, art, hobby, or something else, it’s important to do things during the summer that bring you happiness. Spend your extra time improving your skills and staying healthy while also taking time to learn something new. Have a great summer!

Looking for more summertime advice to keep you busy? Check out our “summer” tag to explore other fun content.

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About Natalie Engh

Natalie Engh

My name is Natalie Engh and I'm a sophomore at Hammond School in Columbia, South Carolina. I ride horses and love to read and write in my free time.


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