How to Stay Productive Over Summer

Jordyn Banks
Edited by Sophia Patane
Published on
July 3, 2023

Colleges look for students who make the best use of their summer break, exploring their passions and advancing their knowledge. However, it can be difficult for students to justify spending their summer break with their noses in a book when they could be traveling or lying out at the beach. How you spend your time usefully lies in how well you can manage your time. Here are some ways, from personal experience, that you can avoid summer burnout and stay productive. 

  • Make a Timeline: The timeline can be as vague or as specific as you want it– as long as you plan your major events for the summer and the main things you want to accomplish. Make an event dividing up your big summer plans, and make daily timelines dividing up your activities for the day. By making these checklists, you will feel more organized and less anxious. 
  • Set Time Aside to Have Fun: There is enough time in a day to spend with your family and friends and focus on your summer tasks. If you aren't spending time with others and spending time outdoors, this could easily lead to burnout. More importantly, if you feel stressed, put your mental health first to avoid burnout. 
  • Take an Online Class: Colleges love seeing students who push themselves, even in the summer. Online classes are a great way to explore your interests and gain credits you may still need. For example, many colleges accept up to ten-semester credits for English– even though the most you can generally get through high school is 8. This means you have room to add some classes outside your high school. For example, I am taking a Spanish class at Silicon Valley High School (a virtual, self-paced school) because many colleges (like the UC schools) like seeing at least three years of a language on your transcript. You can still sign up for a class at this high school; it's not too late to enroll! You can also take classes at a community college, which is even better! This shows colleges that you are prepared for college-level coursework. It may be too late to sign up for a community college class, but if you are a sophomore, start thinking about the classes you would like to take next summer! 
  • Passion Projects: Passion Projects are a great use of your time during the summer. Examples of passion projects would be starting an organization, creating a podcast, and writing a research paper, among many other ideas. However, only embark on a passion project if you are genuinely passionate about it! Dig deep into your interests and find something you genuinely care about; if you can't find something, it would be better to spend your time doing something else. 
  • Volunteering: Volunteering is an excellent use of your time during the summer. There are volunteer opportunities around you– at libraries, summer camps, tutoring, etc. For example, I just helped out at a camp called “Camp Invent” at a school near me, and it was a lot of fun! Volunteering is a great way to make new friends and have fun while doing something productive with your time. 
  • Find a Job: This could even be as simple as dog walking or babysitting. Colleges love to see work experience, which would be a valuable asset to your resume. This would also be a way to meet new friends and learn! Bonus points if the job is related to your future major. 
  • Visit Colleges: While many more prominent colleges don’t care if you visit, some colleges track who visits. Even if the college does not emphasize college visits, visiting colleges is a great way to see which colleges you want to attend and which colleges you don’t. Furthermore, visiting colleges can also boost your motivation! For instance, I was feeling slightly stressed about all my summer classes, and I took a trip to see my #1 college, which motivated me to continue working hard because it showed me what I was working towards.

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