Attention high school and college students: there may be snow on the ground but it’s not too early to start thinking about your plans for the hot days of summer.
Whether you’re hoping to be a camp counselor, do an internship or work a paying job, you’ll need to start preparing long before the last week of the semester.
“Applications for many programs open in January and are due in spring, and if you don’t plan ahead, you might not get to do what you want,” says Katie Garrett, founder of Garrett Educational Consulting. “Especially after the past 18 months of being stuck at home — some programs might be fairly popular and you don’t want to miss out on getting a spot.”
And although summer may be all about soaking up the rays with your squad, that can’t be the only thing you do.
“High school and college students need to have something worthwhile to put on their resume for every summer,” Katie says. “It doesn’t have to be something that lasted the whole summer … Maybe you volunteered at vacation Bible school for two weeks or did a short internship program. That’s fine. There just can’t be a space where you sat at the pool all summer with your friends.”
But what if you’re unsure of how you want to spend your summer?
Katie has some advice to get the wheels turning:
- Get a paying job. That shop or restaurant where your friends love to meet up after class? They may need some extra help this summer. Ask if they’re hiring (or if they know anywhere else that might be) and start stacking your cash for college, a car or whatever else you’ve been eyeing.
- Find an internship. Depending on your intended path, internships may be hugely important for college students — and competitive.
“For example, if you’re getting into investment banking or consulting, you have to hit the ground running,” Katie says.
The summer after junior year in college is particularly important.
“Oftentimes students will be hired after that internship by September of their senior year,” Katie says.
And if an unpaid internship is an incredible opportunity but not financially viable, don’t despair.
“Research what your college’s resources are. There may be funds you could apply to,” Katie says. “But you’ll need to seek out those resources and be on top of the deadlines.”
High schoolers could consider internships also. Look for businesses in a field you’re interested in learning more about, and find out about their internship programs. Your school counselor might be able to help you as well.
- Be a camp counselor. You know those fond childhood memories you have from spending every summer at camp? You can help provide that to another child by working or volunteering as a junior counselor. Reach out to your contacts from your favorite camp (or one you’ve heard of that you’d be interested in working with) and ask if they’re looking for help.
- Do some athletic training. If next year could make or break your college athletic career, you probably want to spend the summer putting in the work. Katie suggests finding out early what that schedule will look like so you can plan other activities around your training time.
- Take classes. College students: Keep your academic train on track by taking summer courses — which might mean smaller class sizes and more face time with your professors.
“Talk to your advisor about how many credits you need to graduate. Sometimes you may need to take summer classes to stay on track to graduate in four years,” Katie says. “Or if you only want to take 12 credit hours during the fall and spring, taking summer classes can set you up for that easier course load. Or you could even graduate early.”
However, be sure to talk about the plan with your parents.
“Staying for the summer is a financial decision too, and you and your parents need to know what that cost is,” Katie says. “If you’re on scholarship it usually doesn’t cover summer — only the academic year. Find out these details before you get too far into the planning process.
If you’re a high schooler, you can start your college career on the right foot by taking some credit hours either online or in-person at a community college or university.
Katie’s advice: if you’re able to take classes on campus, you’ll get some early exposure to dorm and college life.
- Join an expedition travel program. If becoming totally immersed in another culture while traveling, learning a new language and making lifelong friends sounds like fun to you, consider an expedition program like Moondance, Arc or BroadReach.
- Study abroad. Even if you aren’t majoring or minoring in a foreign language, heading abroad can be a valuable experience for every student. Attend any interest nights or virtual open houses for your school’s study abroad program to see if the program would interest you.
High schooler? You don’t have to wait for college to experience studying in another country. Ask your counselor for help discovering which programs allow high schoolers to study abroad over the summer.
Katie’s main advice for summer plans: try to diversify your experiences.
“Don’t feel like just because you found something you liked one summer that you have to continue down that path every year,” she says. “Be willing to explore all the options out there.”
And don’t apply to all the same programs as your besties.
“Of course it’s scary to do something on your own, but some of the best experiences and friends you could ever make could come from the thing you do without your best friend,” Katie says.
Need more help and advice? Call Garrett Educational Consulting at 980-677-0311 or email [email protected]