16 Days of Summer


eNotes’ editorial intern shares his tips of how to make the most of your high school summer. Or any summer, for that matter!

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan.  My grandma bought me the first book when I was 11, and from then on I read every book within the same week it was released.  My extreme anticipation and excitement for the release of the final installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, back in 2007 should be understandable then.  However, I was conflicted.  The release date for the 7th book was set for the end of July, which is far too close to the end of summer from a student’s perspective.  You see my dilemma.  As a typical high school student, I wanted the long carefree days of summer to last forever, however, I now had this exciting event to look forward to at the end of summer.  For the first time in my life, I was looking forward to summer ending.  This turned out to be the slowest summer ever.  My summer that normally felt like it was only 16 days long now felt like the setting of a slow-motion dream I couldn’t escape.  Ultimately, I became comfortable with the pace of that summer in 2007 and learned to enjoy my time and stay in the moment up until that long awaited release of the Deathly Hallows.

That summer was a stark contrast to a typical high school summer, which moves way too quickly and is filled with sobs of students during the final weeks.  The days meld together and may begin to pass you by.  Let’s take a look at some tips to ensure that you’re making the most of your summer and emerge into the next school year after a productive and fun vacation.

1. Break it down.  You have two and a half months ahead of you with no academic obligations.  Plan your summer by answering these basic questions which will provide an outline for your time ahead: 1. What will I do with my time?, 2. What are my obligations?, 3. What will be fun?, 4. What will be beneficial?

2. Travel.  One of my biggest regrets of high school is that I considered leaving my street to be “traveling”.  Travel and learn to be comfortable making your own decisions, being your own boss, and not having your mother force you to clean your room.  You will gain experience, confidence, and surely return a changed person.  More importantly, you will be better equipped to handle college. And anyways, girls like well-traveled men (and vice versa).  If a trip outside of the US isn’t plausible, spend a couple days in a neighboring city.

South Africa Confed Cup Soccer3. Get that beach body.  Summer = warm weather = go outside.  Take advantage of the weather and play outdoors.  Bike riding, beach workouts, and surfing are all fun, great workouts that allow you to enjoy the great outdoors.  CrossFit is a great way to build muscle and shed fat to be looking your best by the start of next school year.

4. Pick up a hobby.  Start a new one every summer.  This gives you something to work towards and improve in every day and will help you feel productive.  Pick up the guitar, grab the surfboard, start doing archery, learn computer programming, or kick around the hackysack.  The more diverse and well-rounded you are, the more perspectives and knowledge you have.  It also makes you more valuable to others, and is a great way to meet new people.

5. Go learn something.  Yes, you read correctly.  Now that you’ve learned about shapes (Geometry) and the Warsaw Pact (European History), go learn something of applicable value that you can use in real life.  The classroom is a great way to learn discipline and theoretical knowledge, but nothing beats some old fashioned life experience.  Learn how to balance a checkbook, deliver a moving speech, or grill the perfect steak.

6. Work.  Summer is the time to enjoy yourself away from school and hang out.  With that being said, financial obligations must still be considered.  The first distinction to make here is that there is a difference between needing money and needing experience.  These two emphases will prompt you to search for jobs in different areas.  If you need money, then any job that pays you highly should be your goal.  If you need work experience for your resume or target career, then an internship (even if it’s unpaid) is a worthwhile option.  Many good companies offer summer internships that you should start pursuing several months ahead of time.

prom7. Cherish your time with your friends.  Even if you think you’re sick of your high school friends and ready to move on to college, I encourage you to try to enjoy your current relationships as much as possible.  You have a window of opportunity right now with your current friends and living situation, so enjoy the present moment.  In college, you will move away and lose contact with the majority of people you interact with (and after college the real world sets in…don’t get me started on that).

8. Scavenger hunts!  There’s no better way to spend time with friends than a scavenger hunt.  I only did one of these in high school, but it was a memory that will be ingrained in my mind forever.  You get to hang out with your friends and do things that would otherwise be inappropriate…what’s not to like?  Afterwards, have all the groups come together at a park or house and talk about the good times.

9. Enrich yourself academically.  Taking time away from school is important and mentally advantageous.  However, if you want to get a step ahead, continue your educational pursuits outside of the classroom.  Take a summer school course to lighten your load next year.  Read books that you want to read.  Take a prep course to prepare yourself for the SAT.  The consequences of your current actions will echo in the years to come.  It looks like this: well prepared for the SAT–> good score on the SAT–> accepted into a good college–> graduate from a good college–> look good on your resume–> hired by a good company–> $.

10. “Veg out.”  All of these recommendations aside, it’s important to spend your free time how you want to and at times spend that time not doing anything at all.  This is one of the final summer vacations  in your life.  Get some R&R and be ready to hit it hard again next year.  Find that balance between work and play.  Most importantly, don’t look back on this summer and have regrets.  Try to make it last 16 days.  Enjoy.

couch potato