“I’m a teenager; we don’t like to leave our comfort zone,” one student told me as I suggested that he gradually get used to stretching himself in new ways.
Happiness does not come from acquiring more possessions, no matter how many times the commercials try to tell us it does. Happiness and satisfaction can come from finding meaning in life and positively influencing our world by developing ourselves. This process can also help some people bypass depression and other mood disorders. At times, staying in your comfort zone can feel like you are putting yourself in a cage. Engaging in healthy activities takes courage and provides fulfillment not always available if you take short cuts.
Summer is a great time to stretch. Colleges expect that you will use your time well. You do not have to solve all the world’s problems, but it won’t hurt if you take action, contributing in a small way toward making something better. Stretching your intellect is also productive. Spend some time honing a skill or talent that you want to improve. Could you be a better writer? Take a writing class. Your resume should indicate that you did not spend all summer on Facebook and video games.
Here are a few lower cost local options:
Northwest Youth Corps, https://www.nwyouthcorps.org/. Some of their programs pay you to do environmental work and have outdoor adventures.
Saturday Academy, http://www.saturdayacademy.org/. Don’t hesitate to apply for a scholarship if you need one.
Enroll in a summer class at the community college or local university.
Help in a summer program at a low-income school or at a bilingual school if you want to practice your second language.
Use your skills to help others. Can you teach music? Can you coach soccer? Can you tutor other students in math? Are you a good with kids? Can your provide child care? Advertise your services.
READ. Google ‘books to read before college’ and check out all the lists. Read as much as you can. Join a book group through the library or a bookstore to discuss books. Bonus: reading is the best way to improve ACT/SAT scores. Create your own book group. Read literary criticism of each book, also.
Write a resume and keep it updated. Include all your activities. Family responsibilities can also be included on a resume, particularly on a college resume.
Attend events of interest on college campuses: lectures, art openings, theatre productions, protests, educational forums.
Counselor in Training programs (google for more options):
Get a job. Google ‘jobs for teens Portland OR.’ Colleges value the maturity students gain while working.
Find an internship by talking to your parents and their friends. Ask them about their work and share your interests with them. Someone may be able to create an opportunity for you.
ACT/SAT Test preparation:
www.number2.com (free), Khan Academy,Library books. The math sections of both tests do not cover math beyond Algebra 3-4 (2nd year Algebra). Students enrolled in classes beyond that level will find it helpful to review previously learned concepts thoroughly so they can move quickly through the exams.
Summer programs (outside of Portland)
Most colleges offer some type of summer program for high school students on their campus. Some are taught by professors at the college and allow you to experience a college class. Other programs lease space to an outside organization that offers an easier, more camp-like experience. Both can be very expensive, but there are sometimes scholarships available. I, and many colleges, would suggest academic courses, taught by professors, as the best value for the money. These are also much more impressive on a resume.
Here is a free program offered by the US government to study languages that they deem a priority: Mandarin, Arabic, Korean, Hindi, Persian, Russian and Turkish. Besides the summer program, they also offer a year long program for recent high school graduates and is a great idea for a Gap Year. It the National Security Language Initiative for Youth program.
Naviance>colleges>college research>enrichment programs
Enrichment Alley: http://www.enrichmentalley.com/
Teen Life (Naviance contracts with them, but I saw differences in search results): https://www.teenlife.com/search/summer-programs/
Lists compiled by other people. College Transitions; Arts Programs
PAID internships listed by Rochester Institute of Technology: http://people.rit.edu/~gtfsbi/Symp/highschool.htm
List of programs by Usummer: http://www.usummer.com/index.html
MIT programs: http://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/juniors_mit_and_other_summer_p
Summer Institute for the Gifted: http://www.giftedstudy.org/
Oregon/Costa Rica exchange program: http://www.studentexchange-oregoncostarica.com/
This is a relatively inexpensive program for two months in Costa Rica. Students stay a month at two different home stays and attend high school with local students. February 1 application deadline.
Check my blog for seasonal updates of individual programs for which I have received more extensive information.