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Scholarly Saturdays: 3 Ways to Have a Productive Summer (and Boost Your College Applications!)

A sunny summer day

Congratulations, high school students - you've made it through another year, and now that it's summer, it's time to reap your reward! Whether you've been done with school for a few weeks, are just finishing up now, or have a little while left to go, I hope each and every one of you gets to sleep in until noon at least one weekend this month. Here at My Ivy Education, our students are starting to jet off to the summer programs and personal projects they've been looking forward to, from attending the Telluride Association Summer Program or Iowa Young Writers' Studio to working on their own personal projects - some highlights include running their own literary journals and recording full-length albums!

Catching up on sleep aside, if you're anything like me, you'll be feeling just a little bit antsy - it's got to feel weird not having any upcoming deadlines or assignments to submit for the first time all year! So if you're looking for ways to make your summer as exciting and productive as possible and calm those post-finals jitters, here are three ways to make your summers work for you (and your college applications):

#1. Get a job

Betcha haven't heard of this one before! But just because working over the summer is common doesn't lessen its impact. Getting paid for a job well done is one of the most important experiences you'll ever have, especially since it's (hopefully) one you'll return to time and time again throughout your life. Working, whether it's full-time or just part-, can teach you responsibility and teamwork, and even pave the way for the beginning of your professional development.

If the words 'summer job' make you groan at thoughts of the same old lifeguarding and babysitting, think again - those are great options, but you can also look into opportunities in your field of interest. Plenty of high school students get paid to conduct scientific research in a lab, intern with law offices and environmental advocacy groups, work at animal shelters, and more. If none of that appeals to you, you can always break out of the mold and go solo! In my last few years of high school, my sister and I started our own tutoring company - the very beginning of what would go on to become My Ivy Education.

#2. Study your passion at a summer program

There are camps out there for just about anything you could possibly want to study, from architecture to zoology. The icing on the cake is that colleges absolutely love some of these camps - in fact, a few, like the Telluride Association Summer Program, are seen as practically golden tickets to the Ivy League and similar schools.

In addition to the camps mentioned earlier, My Ivy Education students either are attending or have been accepted to some of the most exciting and selective summer programs in the United States. For STEM, they've attended the Garcia Center Research Scholars Program, Stanford Genomics Research and Internship Program, MIT Online Science, Technology, and Engineering Community, and more. For humanities, they'll be joining the Stanford Summer Humanities Institute, Yale Young Global Scholars, and the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop, to name a few.

To get inspiration for all the places you might go this summer or next, you can check out our Consulting page and get in touch with us for even more summer program ideas!

#3. Create Your Own Project

Here's a tip born from personal experience! For both summers after my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I decided that I was going to sit down and get cracking on everything I had been wanting to do all during the school year, but couldn't because I had been too busy with the never-ending stream of classes and assignments. If you guys have been following this blog or my YouTube channel (you can find me at Krystle DiCristofalo // My Ivy Education), then you already know that I'm a huge lover of creative writing, and was accepted to my dream school, Columbia University, as a creative writing major. So when I say I wanted to sit down and do everything I couldn't during the school year, what I mean is that I ended up writing two novels, one per summer, the second of which was honored by the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

This is just one example of a personal project you can pursue over the summer, and it's definitely very tailored to me and my own interests - I drew out a schedule consisting of hours of writing every day, in order to keep myself on track in between a couple weeks of structured summer programs here and there, and made myself stick to it. Not that this was always so easy - why write in a stuffy room when I could be swimming in the pool or catching up with my friends? But no matter what you decide to pursue if you go this route, be it starting your own business or nonprofit, putting together a book of poetry, conducting a scientific research project, or something else altogether, I can guarantee you it'll be well worth it.

Comment down below what all of you are doing this summer! And don't forget, no matter what path you choose to follow, make sure to fit in at least two weeks of rest and relaxation - you'll need it for the upcoming school year, and, by gosh, you've earned it.

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