Summer Planning


Get Me To College



Planning Powerful Summers

Rebecca Joseph, PhD

High school students should use their summers to advance their interests–academic, extracurricular, service, and work. Summers help you become better citizens of your community and world. The more competitive the college, the more the college expects you to be a member of your community and to make good use of your summers. So find ways to continue with current interests, explore new ones, and begin to show your commitment, leadership, and initiative. During Covid, colleges have accepted online ventures; they just expect kids to be engaged in activities.

Colleges expect you to use your summers wisely. The older you get the more they expect you to show leadership and initiative. They want to see continuity–that you really spend time with your activities and grow with them.

Should you do things just for colleges?: No, of course, not. But being active during the summer, makes you a better person and helps you experience things that you can’t do during the regular school year.


Summer School:

  • Colleges just don’t want you to just make up bad grades but if you must do that as soon as possible.
  • You can fulfill high school graduation requirements such as Health.
  • You can fulfill academic requirements if you’re in a small learning community or academic that doesn’t offer them all.
  • You can go ahead a year in math or get ready for AP science.
  • You can take a core class to enable you to take a fuller loader each year.
  • You can do summer ENRICHMENT classes to push yourself further ahead.
  • If you are in ESL, take as many summer English classes as you can.

Community Colleges:

  • Go to community colleges to push yourself further ahead academically.
  • Their classes are free for high school students.
  • You get in last, but try, try, try!!! You can email professors and show up to class the first day and try to get in.
  • It’s the same as taking an AP class. You get a full point boost to your GPA for classes that are high school level and above.
  • Get the summer schedule from your counselor or online. Fill out the forms required. You will have to apply to the college, but the application is easy and free.
  • Take higher levels of courses your school runs out of, that really interest, you, that will enable you to take more than one elective, or that will help you do better in English and Math.

College Classes:

  • Local colleges also offer summer courses. 
  • They count the same as AP classes just like at community colleges.
  • Move ahead a year, explore new fields, and see what college is really like.
  • Get their online schedules and see what they offer. 
  • Get to know your professors!!! Go to office hours!!! 

Skills Centers:

  • Since schools are cutting back on summer school classes, consider taking classes at local skills centers to help you make up credits or do a GED program.
  • They offer ROP courses and other vocational opportunities.

Summer Enrichment Programs:

Sports and Activities:

  1. Continue with club or varsity sports.
  2. Participate in activities such as acting, singing, playing an instrument, and more.
  3. Continue going to camp and work your way up to CIT and Counselor.
  4. Continue with religious activities, cultural activities, and everything you like to do.
  5. Follow a passion such as photography, drawing, and robotics.
  6. Keep working on a school activity such as newspaper, Model UN, drama, and sports.

Volunteer Work/Community Service/Internships:

  1. Do community service for non-profits, camps, schools, hospitals, and more. Internships are difficult to get if you’re not in college.
  2. But you can contact lawyers, doctors, research centers, government agencies, politicians, and any place that may interest you such as a community center.
  3. Contact the Special Olympics, your local parks, community center, non-profits.
  4. If you volunteer during school, see if they will allow you to work more hours during the summer.
  5. If you’re interested in starting a club, spend your summer doing research.
  6. Find something that means something to you. If you want to help the homeless, work at a shelter or a food kitchen or a camp for homeless kids. If you like health care, volunteer at a hospital, a clinic, or a doctor’s office. If you’re interested in politics or government, contact your local councilman, community center, or agency that helps different people. If you’re interested in communications, contact public relations and advertising companies, newspapers, and magazines. Look online.
  7. In this economy, volunteer work is your best bet.


  1. Jobs are available. So start looking around
  2. Contact your friends, family members, and anyone you know. It’s okay to ask for help finding a job.
  3. See if you can work at a restaurant, coffee store, clothing store, camp.
  4. See if your elementary or middle school has openings.
  5. Babysitting and working for your family count as jobs!!!


  1. If travel to see family, that is a great summer activity. Can you volunteer in the community or work for your relatives? Can you strengthen your bilingual abilities?
  2. If you travel with family or for programs, see what you can do to make a lasting change.
  3. If you’re in the United States, go visit local colleges. That could save you a trip in the spring or fall. See below for advice.

College Readiness:

  1. Start preparing for the SAT or ACT or SAT Subject Tests.
  2. There are free online test prep programs. For example, check out or go directly to the SAT and ACT websites.
  3. You can find a class at your school or in your community.
  4. Visit Colleges.
    1. You can go online and find colleges through the College Board or
    2. You can visit local colleges. They have free tours and information sessions. Just go to the admissions office on their websites.
    3. Try to visit a range of colleges to see what kinds of locations and sizes you like. Visit a college in a city and one in the country. Visit a large university. Visit a smaller one.

Whatever you do, keep a record of your hours and the tasks you complete. You will need to develop a resume and colleges often ask about your summers.