Preparing for College: Cool Ideas for Summer (for teens) (page 2)

By — National Association for College Admission Counseling
Updated on Mar 13, 2009

Taking a class

High schools and colleges all over the country offer summer courses for high school students. You can brush up on a subject you're having difficulty with or take a more advanced course in an area that interests you. Check out your local community college or any nearby four-year colleges to find out about summer programs for high school students. Or you may wish to participate in a summer program on a college campus away from home.

Taking a college-level course, whether close to home or farther away, can give you a taste of what to expect in college. You may even be able to earn college credit.


Whether it's a family vacation to the Grand Canyon or an abroad program for high school students, traveling is a fun and educational way to spend a few days or a few months. To make the most of your trip, take a camera and/or a journal. Watch for opportunities to take interesting pictures, not just the standard tourist views. Capture the image of the homeless man asking for change near the Smithsonian in Washington, DC or truckers eating a late meal in a roadside diner. If you're more a writer than a photographer, each evening, write about what you've seen that day. What did you like the best? What stories do you want to jot down before you forget them?

Visiting colleges

The summer can be a good time to make preliminary college visits. Don't expect to get a good sense of the student body, since many colleges have few or no college students on campus during the summer. But you can take a tour of the campus and have an interview with an admission officer. Try to visit colleges of different sizes. It's a good time to figure out if big universities excite you or intimidate you, or if small colleges seem welcoming or stifling. Even if you don't have specific colleges in mind, summer visits can help you get an idea of what types of colleges appeal to you.


Are you passionate about improving the environment, helping children, or building affordable housing for low-income families? Summer vacation gives you the time to volunteer for an organization or cause that's important to you.

"Find ways to make your community better," says Boshoven. Ask your family, guidance counselor, or clergyperson for recommendations of local community service organizations. You might be surprised at how many different ways you can help people in your community (and even around the world).


Don't let your brain get lazy just because school's out. Visit the library or bookstore and find books that interest you. Some high schools and colleges have reading lists. You can also find recommendations for good books online (see Hot Summer Reading) or from your English teacher or librarian.

You don't have to read Shakespeare (unless you want to!) to get the benefits of an enriched vocabulary and broadened imagination. "It's always good to read, period!" says Boshoven. Newspapers, magazines, fantasy novels, teen romances--even comic books and Web sites--can all give you some benefits.

Getting creative

Don't limit yourself. Think about something you've always wanted to do. Write a book? Paint? Start your own business? Learn rock-climbing? Now is the time to plan. You can find books on summer opportunities for high school students at the library, or search the Web. Talk to your parents and others about what you'd like to do over the summer. Start lining up possible clients for your own summer lawn-mowing business, or apply to that creative writing workshop. And get ready for a great summer!

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