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Believe me, I get it. Sleeping in late and binge-watching shows or playing video games is awesome, but eventually it becomes mind-numbing! When you reach that point (which might be week two of summer), think about ways to make the most of your summer vacation. Some of the following activities will keep you on track to college or help with a future career…and some are just plain fun!

Get a summer job.

Say what you will about the current economy, but it’s a great time to find a job! Submit applications to several places and you just may get job offers from all of them. If so, compare the hourly wage, work schedule, type of work you will do, and the environment.

I had three different jobs while in high school, and they got progressively better. My first job was in the kitchen at a senior-living home. I loved serving food to the residents, but washing dishes was not all that fun. My second job was at a fast-food restaurant. It was great working with kids my age, but I felt (and smelled) greasy by the end of my shift. My third job was as a cashier at a local pharmacy. Now, that was fun! I worked with kids my age and had a blast getting to know the customers. Best of all, I didn’t smell bad when I got home.

My part-time jobs taught me a lot about punctuality, responsibility, and how to provide good customer service. These “soft skills” are exactly what employers look for when you are ready to find full-time work.

Volunteer your time.

If you have not volunteered before, get ready for a potentially life-changing experience. It feels really good to know you are impacting your community in such a positive way. As an added benefit, nothing looks better on your college and scholarship applications than volunteering!

If you need ideas of where to volunteer, contact your local food bank, homeless shelter, or animal shelter. All three of those places typically are in constant need for volunteers. You might also check with your church about helping with vacation Bible school or contact the local Boys and Girls Club. 

Learn something new.

Summer is a great time to hone a new skill. Interested in cooking? Watch your favorite chef on the Food Network and try some new recipes. The Barefoot Contessa and the Pioneer Woman make crowd-pleasing eats! Want to learn more about the world of business? Check out the Planet Money podcast – they make learning about economics fun! With their Planet Money summer school, you’ll think about “sunk costs” in a whole new way. Bottom line, learning can be fun!

Job shadow.

If you have an idea of the career you want to pursue after college, I strongly encourage you to do some job shadowing this summer. It will help you understand the day-to-day responsibilities of the job, and it could help you determine if it’s a good career path.

When I was younger, I thought I wanted to attend dental school so I shadowed my dentist for a day. All was going well until I watched my dentist extract a tooth from a patient. The blood rushed to my head and I felt faint. Fortunately, the wall caught me as I sunk down to the floor. Mission accomplished! I learned that day that dental school was not for me. That experience saved me from attending four more years of college and incurring well over $100,000 in education and equipment expenses.

Create or update your Activities Resume.

This is the easiest thing you can do to stay on track to college. If you haven’t done so already, create an Activities Resume to track your extracurricular activities, volunteer experiences, honors, and part-time jobs. This information will come in handy when completing college and scholarship applications.

Read some books.

Nothing says summer like curling up with a good book on the back porch or near the pool. I read at least one book a month, which is 12 more than some people but a lot fewer than others. I discovered audible books a few years ago and it has been a game changer! Listening to a book can be magical because the narrator can really make the book come alive. I don’t think listening to a book is cheating because it has helped me developed better listening skills. I used to be a visual learner, but now I am much more auditory. I’m calling that a win!

A quick Google search netted The 10 Best Fiction Books of 2021, and The 23 most popular books of the past year, according to Goodreads members. I read nine of the 23 most popular books and loved them all. I would definitely recommend that list.

Okay, you have some fresh ideas of how to make the most of your summer. Enjoy the journey!