The snow is melting and the grass is beginning to intensify its green hue, which cues one additional order of business: summer plans. Depending on where you live, your summer may look a little different due to the current circumstances, but that’s no excuse to ignore all that precious free time. If you use your time wisely, your summer can be both relaxing AND productive! Yes, “productive” and “summer” are two words you don’t typically see together, but alas, there is a first time for everything. A great way to stay productive is to enroll in a summer program. Now, before you roll your eyes and click off at the thought of having to sit through yet another class after just finishing a whole year of them, hear me out- because it is SO much more than that. Here’s why you should consider taking a summer program:
1. Avoid the summer brain drain
Summer Brain Drain. Summer Slide. Summer Slump. Call it what you want, but let’s face it: watching Netflix and staring at the ceiling 24/7 for three months does something to our brains. The reality is, 1 whole month’s worth of learning collectively is lost after summer break. Venturing into the specifics, roughly 2.6 months’ worth of math skills and 2 month’s worth of reading skills are lost over the summer. What’s more, it takes even longer to re-learn that lost material once school starts back up — 6 weeks has been the average.
Worried? Well, if you weren’t before, you probably are now. But, don’t fret: you, by all means, do not need to put your brain through an intense summer training program for the fall “Common Core” Hunger Games… but a little brain exercise between TV episodes wouldn’t hurt. Summer programs are a great way to avoid the summer brain drains and keep your mind stimulated throughout your long hiatus period.
2. Minimal conflicts
Summer vacation comes, and your daily schedule is wiped CLEAN. You don’t have any tests, AP exams, homework, clubs, sports, or anything else filling up your schedule and preventing you from fully indulging inthe journey of exploration. Make use of all the free time you have, because chances are it’s gonna rapidly be eaten away once the leaves start changing color.
3. Maintain an active, engaging routine
Now, I’m not saying that you should fill up every second of every day with academic stimulation, because everyone deserves a break; you deserve a break. Summer vacation is a vacation for a reason- enjoy it. But, whether you choose to admit it or not, it is DI-FFI-CULT to get back into the rhythm in the fall after sleeping in until noon and lazing around for another couple of hours. Summer programs are a way to push you to maintain at least some sort of daily structure — even if it is flexible- and ensure that you make use out of every day — recreation or not.
4. Get ahead
Summer programs can get you a headstart on learning the concepts you will be working on in the approaching academic school year. For example, a very popular strategy many tech students take is enrolling in an intro coding program (like, for example, Java) the summer before they AP Computer Science. This allows them to build a strong foundation of the fundamentals early on, so it’s an easier time for them in school and they can spend more time working with more complex concepts; plus, they have a more likely chance of earning better grades if they’ve already practiced these new concepts.
Some of them offer high school or even college credit
Select programs and courses may offer high school or even college credit! Be sure to contact the program administrator to check out your options. This is an opportunity to free up more space in your academic schedule, and potentially save a bit of cash in college. NOTE: some high schools do not recognize certain organizations/programs; if the program offers high school credit, make sure to check with your school counselor to see if your school accepts the credit the program offers.
5. Explore new academic interests without the concern of grades
If you want to the test waters of a particular subject, but afraid of the potential consequences on your GPA, not to worry! That’s what a summer program is for! You can explore different subjects without the worry of scores and grades (with the exception of credit-earned courses). Furthermore, most programs only last for a few weeks, so if you don’t end up liking it, you’re not miserable for the next six months.
6. It’s an opportunity to make connections
Chances are the summer program you’re interested in is of interest to someone else all the way on the other side of the country; that’s the beauty of these! It’s a chance to meet people of shared interests outside the comfort of your own school or community. It’s a whirlwind of different cultures and personalities and a great potential to form connections.
7. Chance to develop new skills outside of school
Sometimes, school just doesn’t cut it. There are just some things that are developed best outside a classroom. Whether it’s an academic skill- one that your school doesn’t offer in their course selection- or a personal skill- one that just cannot be gained within the walls of the classroom, summer programs hold the exclusive candy bag of hidden skills- you just gotta take your pick.
8. Nice incentive to add to college applications
Regardless of earning physical credit or not, colleges appreciate it when you go above and beyond to show interest in something; they love the passion you display when you take that extra step. It also goes to show colleges that you were making full use of your summer vacation- taking it as an opportunity to further your education instead of whiling away precious time like the majority of the student population.
Not as bad as it seems, right? Here’s a challenge: this weekend, take some time to research different summer programs centered around subjects you’ve always been interested in, but never had the chance to explore; you’d be surprised at the diverse selection of programs to choose from — right at your fingertips.