Summer Activities for High School Students: Start Planning for Summer Now

A photo illustrating International College Counselors share ideas for summer activities for high school students.

It’s only January, yet now is the time to start planning summer activities for high school students. Engaging in summer activities can significantly enhance a student’s college application, showcasing qualities such as curiosity, drive, and initiative. While colleges consider the extracurriculars a student is engaged in during the school year; they also value evidence of students cultivating their interests during the summer.

Many opportunities such as internships, volunteering, or specialized programs have limited spots and early deadlines. Starting now gives you a competitive edge, ensuring your student doesn’t miss out on sought-after experiences.

Whether a student aims to delve into new pursuits or expand on their existing passions, the array of available options is vast – and International College Counselors can help your student maximize their summer with more than 500 ideas.

For students eager to leverage their summer break to enrich their resumes and broaden their experiences, here are six ideas:

1. Internships

Internships provide a unique opportunity for students to gain practical experience, develop essential skills, and make informed decisions about their future career paths.

For high school students, one of the primary benefits is the hands-on experience they offer. Additionally, working in a professional environment fosters the development of important life skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and effective communication.

Internships also enable students to explore various career paths before committing to a specific field of study or occupation. Exposure to different industries and job roles helps students make informed decisions about their future academic and career pursuits. This early exploration can prevent students from investing time and resources in a field that may not align with their interests or goals. That said, students should seek internships in the areas of their interests. STEM students may find opportunities at local laboratories, tech companies, or engineering firms. For students inclined toward the arts, internships at museums, theaters, or graphic design studios can offer exposure to creative processes and industry insights. Aspiring journalists might find internships at newspapers, media outlets, or broadcasting stations. Similarly, students in the business realm, can look for internships with marketing agencies, finance firms, or startups.

Students can also build a professional network, connecting with experienced professionals and mentors in their chosen field. These connections may then open doors to future opportunities.

Participating in internships also enhances a student’s resume by demonstrating a proactive attitude, a willingness to learn, and a commitment to personal and professional growth.

2. Volunteering

Students who volunteer during the summer can make a meaningful impact while acquiring essential life skills such as leadership, teamwork, and social responsibility. Consider volunteering at local community centers, homeless shelters, or food banks to support marginalized communities and develop empathy. Animal shelters offer opportunities to care for animals. Engaging in environmental groups or conservation efforts allows students to contribute to the preservation of our planet.

3. Summer Camps and College Programs

Many colleges and universities offer summer residential programs for high school students. For one to seven weeks, students can live and learn on a college campus with peers from around the world. Not only does attending a program like this demonstrate a student’s interest in a particular subject, but it also allows them to dive deeper into their favorite topics or even explore a new area of interest. Plus, students will get a taste of college life by living in a dorm, eating in the dining hall, and hanging out on campus. 

Specialized summer camps also cater to diverse interests and provide an immersive learning experience coupled with recreational activities. Leadership camps foster teamwork, decision-making, and communication skills through outdoor challenges and group activities. Adventure camps offer opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, or water sports, encouraging physical fitness and outdoor exploration. Coding camps provide hands-on programming experience. Similarly, art camps or theater workshops allow participants to unleash their creativity and express themselves through various artistic mediums. Athletic camps, focused on a specific sport from baseball to rowing, allow students to learn new strategies and hone their skills.

4. Online Courses or Workshops

Enrolling in online courses or workshops can deepen a student’s understanding of subjects beyond the scope of their high school curriculum, allow them to explore new areas of interest, and show college admissions their curiosity and interest in learning. Platforms like Coursera, Khan Academy, Udemy, or edX offer an extensive range of courses across various disciplines. Whether a student is interested in advanced mathematics, computer programming, creative writing, or languages, these platforms provide expert-led courses that enrich one’s knowledge base while also looking good on a resume.

5. Research Projects

Engaging in research projects over the summer offers a glimpse into the world of academia and scientific inquiry. Students work with professors or researchers at local universities or research institutions assisting with ongoing projects. Working on research projects provides exposure to methodologies, data analysis, and critical thinking skills. This experience bolsters a student’s academic credentials while allowing them to delve deeper into a specific area of interest, providing valuable insights and potentially contributing to scholarly work. A number of students working with International College Counselors have even co-authored and published academic papers. 

6. Independent Projects

Embarking on independent projects highlights initiative, creativity, and self-discipline. Whether it’s launching a small business or initiating a community service project, independent endeavors allow students to explore personal interests and passions. Starting a small business, whether it’s selling handmade crafts, offering tutoring services, or launching a tech startup, instills entrepreneurial skills and financial literacy. Initiating a community service project, such as organizing a fundraiser, leading a youth mentorship program, or advocating for a social cause, not only benefits the community but also cultivates leadership and civic engagement. Students who want to start an independent project will find that these are much easier to start over the summer while they have more time. 

7. Work experience

Securing a job demonstrates commitment, responsibility, and maturity while helping a student discover new strengths and interests.

Beyond the paycheck, a summer job offers crucial life skills and experiences. Learning to balance work commitments with other responsibilities requires time management. Moreover, it provides an opportunity to interact with a group of diverse people, improving their communication and interpersonal skills. A summer job also introduces students to the dynamics of the professional world. Whether they’re flipping burgers, assisting customers, or clerking in an office, every job fosters independence, self-discovery, and a strong work ethic.

Oftentimes, too, employers are willing to write an additional letter of recommendation for students to submit with their applications.

Consult with an International College Counselors advisor for guidance and recommendations. We will speak with your student to learn about and understand their interests. Then we’ll define what they aim to achieve during the break and tailor activities accordingly. We have a list of over 500 summer ideas for students, whether they’re interested in STEM, research, internships, independent projects, or something else. We’ll guide your student to the best summer activities for a productive summer experience.

No matter where your family is in the college admissions process, International College Counselors can help you with every aspect, including summer planning, honing college applications, writing admissions essays, and managing college transfers. Call us at 954-414-9986 to discuss how we can support you and your family!