Tips to Plan a Productive Summer

Most high school students associate summer break with sunshine, relaxing, and catching up with friends. While all of those things can (and should!) definitely be a part of your summer, it can also pay off to make plans that will help you stay productive toward your goals—whether they be for school, college applications, or anything else.

The good news is that a little planning goes a long way. Students can plan a productive summer by simply mapping out their summer schedule now to make enough time for both work and downtime. Below are some more detailed tips to plan a productive summer:   

Plan a productive summer by making academics a priority

Some teachers will give you assignments to complete this summer before the start of the next school year. Focusing on completing these assignments as early as possible this summer can help alleviate stress as it dwindles down and the school year approaches. It can also be helpful because what you learned in school last year will still be fresh on your mind when you start next semester, and that can help you complete your assignments more efficiently and with greater ease. 

Review your summer assignments right away and estimate how much time they’ll take you to complete. Then make a plan to work on these assignments for a certain number of hours on specific days during the week until they’re complete.

If you don’t receive summer homework, still try to brainstorm what assignments you could maybe create for yourself to ensure you’re prepared for the coming year. These don’t need to be too intensive—just enough to keep you refreshed on certain material or certain concepts that you want to improve upon.

Plan a productive summer by signing up for summer activities

A great perk about summer is that you’ll instantly have a lot of free time on your hands. Why not spend some of that time getting involved in something you’re interested in? For example, if you love working with animals, perhaps you’d like volunteering in an animal shelter. Or, if you love sports, maybe you’d like to sign up for basketball camp. Some other examples would include: 

  • Pursuing an internship

  • Being a camp counselor

  • Participating in a STEM camp

  • Traveling abroad

  • Taking music lessons

Summer learning programs and activities can help you improve your skills and find new talents. They can also help you meet and make new friends—and besides that, they’re fun! Moreover, they can look great on college applications to help you stand out to admissions staff. Search online for opportunities or ask your school guidance counselor if he or she recommends any summer activities that are local to you. 

Plan a productive summer by getting a taste of college

Whether you’re a high school freshman or senior, it’s never too early to start preparing for college. Taking a free massive open online course (called a “MOOC”) is a great way to get a taste of what it’s like to take a college class, for instance. You’ll have the opportunity to participate in the class and complete coursework on your own terms: typically in MOOCs, that means you are not penalized for not completing your work if something else comes up, so there are no risks to taking a class. 

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That said, the more work you do in your MOOC, the more you’ll get out of it. A MOOC can help you gain knowledge and skills, and it can even inspire you when it comes to choosing a college major. Pro tip: Taking a MOOC in a subject area related to a challenging high school course you’ll take in the fall—such as an AP or IB course—can teach you things you need to know now…making it a lot easier later!

Plan a productive summer by outlining your plans on a calendar

Now that you’ve made your summer plans, it’s time to jot them down on an electronic or paper calendar (or both). Doing so is a great way to stay organized. Schedule everything you’ll do, from time you want to spend working on summer assignments to backyard barbeques.

If you have an electronic calendar on your smartphone or other mobile device, it can also be helpful to set reminders for yourself. Adjust your calendar settings so you get an email or notification about upcoming events. They can help you stay on top of all you have going on 

Now that you have a plan in place, make this your best summer yet!


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