Summer opportunities abound for high school students, and for those planning to apply to college it is important to take full advantage of the available options. This can be the perfect time to take classes, explore career interests, hone athletic skills or become involved in volunteer work.

Summer opportunities abound for high school students, and for those planning to apply to college it is important to take full advantage of the available options. This can be the perfect time to take classes, explore career interests, hone athletic skills or become involved in volunteer work.


As with all extracurricular activities, how a student chooses to spend their vacation time reveals a great deal about their passions, talents and leadership skills. Yet, while the opportunities are endless, students should carefully choose what it is that they want to do with an eye not to "resume building" but to finding fulfilling experiences that will nurture their passions and allow them to pursue their interests.


For those academics who would like to move ahead in their coursework or to take a class that isn't offered at their high school, many independent schools and colleges offer summer sessions. Through these programs, students can take classes in subjects ranging from calculus to archeology to glass blowing. Most often classes are held during the morning and arts and athletic activities take place in the afternoon so there is plenty of time for recreation built into the day. Those living at a distance may opt to board to get a taste of what dorm life is like.


For those students who are more career-focused, the 10 weeks of summer provide a unique opportunity to explore those interests through internships. Besides the credibility it lends to a resume, a summer internship is the best way to discover if a specific career path is the right road for you.


For those with a more entrepreneurial spirit, the summer months allow time to run a small business mowing grass, selling handmade T-shirts or organizing a dog-walking business. The organizational, leadership and creative skills that are required to run a successful business are especially alluring to colleges.


Volunteering is another way to explore career interests and develop skills while helping others. Many schools require community service but finding time to volunteer during the academic year can be challenging for those invested in sports and other clubs and activities. For students who want to combine work with travel there are several groups that organize volunteer opportunities overseas. Rather than giving an hour or so of your time each week over the course of the year, focusing your energies on your volunteer work can lead to a more meaningful and rewarding experience.


For the athlete, sports camps are offered at many independent schools and universities and provide a tremendous opportunity not only to train with some of the best coaches in the field but also to take advantage of state-of-the-art athletic facilities. Your high school coach is likely your best resource for recommendations for area camps.


Finally, many students enroll in programs overseas where they do any combination of study, travel, language immersion and/or volunteer work. Some programs involve home-stays while others house students in dormitories. For many, this is their first time traveling without their family and the rewards of overcoming the challenges of learning how to adapt to and appreciate the traditions and routines of another culture are profound.


While summer provides myriad opportunities to explore one's interests and passions, it is important to plan ahead as the popularity of many of these camps and programs will lead them to fully enroll quickly. In addition to the Web resources listed below, "Peterson's Summer Programs for Kids and Teenagers" provides a full listing of summer opportunities including community service, study abroad, special needs and wilderness programs as well as summer schools and sports camps.


So often it is through these summer experiences, when a student steps out from the routines and safety of their school-year lives, that they discover something important about themselves or about the world around them. By planning now you will have the chance to make the most of your summer months while still leaving plenty of time for recreation and renewal.


Web resources


Although not a comprehensive list, we hope you'll find these Web sites helpful:


For summer schools: www.aisne.org


For international programs: www.wheretherebedragons.com; http://www.experiment.org/


For information about a wide variety of summer experiences: www.petersons.com


For information about internships: http://www.internshipconnection.com/journal_entries.htm


Tim Lee and Allison Matlack are educational consultants at AHP Educational Consulting located on Rte. 20 in Sudbury. For over 30 years, AHP has guided students through the college search and application process. For more information, call 978-443-0055 or visit www.ahpeducationalconsulting.com.