“There’s a 104 days of summer vacation and school comes along just to end it. So the annual problem for our generation is finding a good way to spend it. Like maybe…”
Phineas and Ferb
Summer vacation is a perfect opportunity to explore and develop your interests. With your months off school, you finally have the opportunity to do the things you wanted to do during the school year but just didn’t have the time. I used my summers well, and now I’m into my top colleges.
Interested in science after sophomore year, I spent my summer learning about stem cell research in a lab in the Texas Medical Center. I enjoyed it so much that the summer before my senior year, I went to Pittsburgh to partake in a cancer research internship. I learned so much about myself and the field of science during those two summers—I was able to see the difference between classroom science and real life science. In a classroom, all your experiments are set up to work—they’ve been done before. In the lab, however, you don’t know what your results are going to look like before you try an experiment. Through my summers I discovered the satisfaction of being able to turn a mystery into a known.
To plan your summer, I suggest you make a list of your interest and priorities. Are you interested in career exploration? Sports camps? Community Service? Animals? Learning a new language? Tutoring younger kids? Once you have that list, do some research online to find opportunities available in your area. You could also ask one of your teachers if they have any suggestions for opportunities. You could volunteer at the zoo, the hospital, or even your favorite museum! You could even do multiple things if time permits.
One thing that I learned early: a lot of these summer opportunities require applications and even teacher recommendations. Start these early! There are a vast number of applications that are due in February and March and some even work on a first come first serve basis—this is no time to procrastinate! These applications will determine how you spend 1-3 months of your life.
Using your summer months wisely could enhance or complement your school curriculum, as my science research complemented my biology and chemistry classes. Summer activities are a great way to learn more about yourself and your interests. What if you also did research in a lab one summer and hated it with a passion? Did you waste your time? Not at all — at least can you rule that career option out. But what if you campaigned for a candidate in a local election and realized you loved politics? All I can say is that the risk might be worth the reward.