This was a stressful year for families and students need the summer to rest and relax.

But THEIR down time during the summer months can sometimes collide with the real responsibilities we have as parents. Plus, there is only so much Netflix teens can watch until boredom takes over. Your teen may actually welcome ideas of productive things to do.

Here are 30 ways that students can make the most of summer vacation. While some projects and activities pertain to college students, many are things that middle school and high school students can do.

By: Mary Dell Harrington

1. Look for a internship or job for the fall or for after graduation

If you are currently a college student or will be attending this fall, visit the career counseling website. Career services is an underutilized area on campus that undergraduates should begin using from freshman year on.  You cannot start the process too soon.

2. Create a LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn is ground zero for many employers who scan the database for students with qualifications that match their needs. Some jobs require LinkedIn just to apply. Find a suitable (not holding a solo cup) profile picture and create an account. If you have an account already, is it up to date? And yes, high school students can create a profile.

3. Update your resume

If you’ve not needed a resume to get a summer job you will need one in college. Check your college’s career counseling website for resources or if you need more help, Handshake is a good place to start.

4. Donate or resell old books and textbooks 

Barnes & Noble Textbooks has a buy-back program that is easy and includes free shipping. Locate the ISBN number on each book and type it into a link on the site to discover if there is any resell value. You will get a quote on the spot and a shipping label.  All you need is a shipping box and a little time to gather all the books you no longer need or want. Cash4Booksis another site to look at to see if you can get more money for books.

5. Increase your computer skills 

For students who want to make the most of their screen time, we highly recommend ID Tech Virtual Tech Camps. It’s our go-to place for learning about different STEM disciplines and enhancing computer skills.

6. Spend time with younger siblings

If you’ve been away at college, you may not realize how much you’ve been missed by your younger siblings. You will always be their much-admired big brother or sister so set up board games, plan movie nights, or surprise your parents with cooking dinner together with them. Make memories this summer for all of you.

7. Visit grandparents

Other than your parents, these adults have loved you with all their hearts since your very first breath. Now is the time to visit them in person and give them that bear hug and the companionship they have missed for the last 18 months. 

8. Take the car in for servicing

Is there a family car that you are allowed to use? When does the inspection sticker expire? Does the oil need changing? How about getting it washed? Take part in the maintenance of the car and, if your parents are letting you drive it to college in the fall, look at this checklist to make sure you are ready for the road trip.

9. Gather and sell old electronics

Chargers, old iPods, phones, cases, games and game systems, CD’s can all bring money if you spend a little time and research who buys what. Learn how to gather and recycle old electronics and read what Best Buy can take. The Amazon Trade In Program is a one stop shop for trade-ins.

10. Get a jump on reading for the fall semester

Do you have fall courses that are reading-intensive? Why not get a jump on academics by picking one of the books off the reading list and finishing it before class begins. Besides, you can never waste time reading a quality book.

11. Go through school mementos and cull them

Clutter is the enemy and you are the only one who can fight the battle between what stays and what goes in your old room. Perhaps some of those programs, pictures, knickknacks that once seemed so precious to you have lost a little luster. Time to trash things now.

12. Make a digital book or 2022 calendar

When was the last family vacation that you took with your parents and siblings? With the pandemic curtailing travel, that trip might be even more meaningful than you realized at the time! Why not create a photo book or calendar for 2022 with pics that are living on your phone? If you want to save the project for the holidays or an upcoming birthday, you will be way ahead with this project in the bank. Shutterfly has easy templates.

13. Research study abroad options

if you’re planning on studying abroad, this is the ideal time to research programs, both ones that your college offers and others that are available elsewhere. Ask around for recommendations from other students and see what advice they have for you. 

14. Get safety training

Look at the Red Cross website or visit your local YMCA’s website and see if there are any programs offered that can lead to certification in CPR, first aid, or lifeguarding. Many options have both online and unperson options. 

15. Research graduate programs and requirements

You may find it hard to see beyond life as a college student, but if you think that graduate school is in your future somewhere down the road, take the time to look at a few university websites. Find out about required entrance exams, average GPAs, undergraduate course work required, firms that recruit at the school…. understanding more about grad programs might give you more focus as a college student.

16. Consign or donate clothes

Are any of your clothes or accessories consignment-worthy? Alternatively, if they are still wearable but you no longer have any need for them, look for a Goodwill, or local charity that can use what you no longer need.

17. Learn to cook

Time in the kitchen is never wasted and the best way to learn to cook is to, simply, cook. Your parents have been the ones planning, shopping for and preparing meals for decades. Why not take over the responsibilities for a few evenings and master some new recipes at the same time? Maybe your parents would be willing to sign up for a meal subscription service like Blue Apron IF you do the cooking.

18. Help your neighbors

There’s never been a better time to reach out to your neighbors to see if they could use your help this summer. Elderly neighbors, in particular, might need someone to run errands, grocery shop, or take care of walking their dog. 

19. Create an exercise routine

If you’ve never gotten in the habit, this could be a perfect time to begin to exercise so that when school begins again, you have a healthy new habit for the fall. There are infinite online options that offer guided instruction with varying length of class times and types – strength, core, yoga, aerobic, and more. Plus, with gyms opening up again, the options are endless. 

20. Set goals

It’s the perfect time to think about what you hope to accomplish during the school year 2021-22. Think about goals that are short-term academic ones but also think about longer-term goals, too. Start by reading this newly-released bestseller, The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them, by Dr. Meg Jay.

21. Make a budget

Create a spreadsheet and sit with your parents to review your financial needs for the summer and the fall. This is a very good exercise to do, especially if you’re going to college this fall and will need to manage more of your own finances. 

22. Plan a family excursion

Although summer feels like it will go on forever, there are only so many weekends when your entire family might be free to gather for an outing. These are memories your family will cherish.

23. Assemble two interview-worthy outfits

When it’s time to meet with for a job interview, you’ll need to project a professional appearance. For virtual interviews, make sure you’re ready with Zoom tops or jackets.  Go through your closet and see what fits, what needs to be tailored and cleaned. If you need to shop, look for stores that offer student discounts.

24. Get the old gang together

Take the initiative, send out a few texts and plan a get together this summer. The time for face-to-face gatherings is now! 

25. Doctors appointments

Have you outgrown the pediatrician’s office with the toys scattered around the waiting room floor? Talk to your parents about switching to an internist for your next appointment. While you’re at it, do you need to see a dentist, dermatologist, the eye doctor, a gynecologist? Stop asking your mom to make these appointments for you and get them on your calendar.

26. Internships

Are you looking for an internship this summer? Many firms have shorter internships that start mid-summer. 

27. Check in with your high school guidance counselor

As a college student, you can be a helpful resource for current high school students, especially since so many student have NOT been able to visit campuses in person. Let your counselor know you’re willing to offer advice and counsel.

28. A dose of culture

Are there museums in your hometown (or nearby) which you haven’t visited since you were in 3rd grade? Maybe it’s time to give culture another shot especially since you can visit in person. 

29. Give your dog a bath

Take on the messy responsibility of bath time and enjoy the one-on-one with your best buddy. While you’re at it, take a close look at what it costs to own and take care of a dog. Many students love the IDEA of a dog but are shocked at how expensive it is to buy food and pay for wellness care. 

30. Volunteer your time

If you can volunteer in your community this might be THE very best way to spend summer vacation. There are also virtual volunteer opportunities to explore.


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