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How to Seize Your High School Summer

Wondering how to make the most out of your summer? Look no further than our top tips to explore your passions, build your qualifications, and even have a ton of fun doing so.

If you’re reading this, chances are that your favorite time of the year is the three months between June and September. You’re not alone—the moment school finally lets out, students all around the world rejoice in this feeling of freedom. 🙌 As it turns out, though, there is more to your summer break than simply Netflix and naps—as enjoyable as they are. As your classmates themselves apply for internships or jobs, enroll in summer camps, and prepare for college entrance exams, you might be wondering how to spend your time over break. Check out several of these tips 👇 to maximize productivity, but make sure to tailor them to your own circumstances!

Tip #1: Narrow down your goals.

As soon as you step out of the school doors, your first thought might be to celebrate the end of a hardworking school year—and you certainly deserve it! But make sure not to lose sight of the bigger picture as you do so. It’s important for high schoolers to list their overarching goals for the summer so that they know what to prioritize. You might have a passion project—such as entrepreneurship, volunteer service, or a hobby—you’ve been meaning to explore, or a whole stack of books you haven’t had the time to get through yet. Or you might want to start a study schedule for SAT/ACT exams. Either way, summer is the perfect time to focus on things that you aren’t able to during the school year, so leverage that wisely!

⚠️ Be careful not to overload yourself with activities, as you’ll find yourself burnt out very soon. Instead, choose 3-4 interests maximum that you want to invest energy in, and put your heart into it.

If you create this master plan before jumping right into relaxation mode, you’ll be even more relaxed later on because of your forward thinking. That way, you can schedule ample time with your friends and family around your priorities as well. 🏝

Tip #2: Focus on yourself.

As you’re choosing the main activities you want to prioritize this summer, it can be tempting to look to your friends and classmates for inspiration or guidance. After all, their plans might be to secure a lucrative summer internship at NASA or jumpstart a nonprofit to solve world hunger, and that sounds thrilling, right? 👀 However, it’s important to stress that everybody is on their own journey to explore their own interests. If you hop on a bandwagon and do what everyone else does, you might end up lost and confused in the long run. Instead, stick to your list of goals and don’t get easily swayed by what people tell you “look impressive” on resumes. Sure, that may be a bonus for an otherwise enjoyable activity, but you should prioritize getting the most out of the experience.

Scenario #1: Alicia isn’t yet sure what to do over the summer of her junior year, but she knows that she loves to take care of animals. Her senior friends are all planning a trip to Fiji in celebration of their hard work, and they invite her to tag along. Since Alicia believes she has nothing else to do anyways, she joins them on the month-long trip. Afterwards, she realizes there was an opening to shadow a zookeeper in her area during that time. Since she didn’t properly research ways to pursue her passion, Alicia missed out on a viable opportunity to seize her summer.

Scenario #2 Alicia isn’t yet sure what to do over the summer of her junior year, but she knows that she loves to take care of animals. So, she reaches out to zoos in the area about her interest in volunteering there. To her surprise, they encourage her to shadow a zookeeper! Her senior friends are all planning a trip to Fiji in celebration of their hard work, and they invite her to tag along. Alicia knows that the trip will conflict with her goal, so she politely declines. After her stint at the zoo is over, she makes plans with family to go on a trip to celebrate.

Although vacations themselves are perfectly fine—and even encouraged! — over the summer, the moral of the story here is not to let excitement in the moment take away from your overall goals and desires. You certainly shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to relax with friends and family, but this just goes to show that knowing your priorities is equally important in order to accommodate fun.

Tip #3: Celebrate your wins.

Okay, so you’ve gotten into the groove of things and summer is underway. You might notice how many people around you are traveling to exotic places or achieving big goals. Meanwhile, you’re stuck doing practice problem #39… 😓 It can be easy to fall into a slog when you’re working hard, so don’t forget to celebrate your progress thus far. Simple activities, such as rewarding yourself with ice cream or throwing a mini dance party in your room just because you can, go a long way for your mental health. Make sure to check in with yourself every so often and ask some form of these questions:

  1. How are you feeling about your plan?

  2. What are some obstacles or blockers in your way of achieving your goals?

  3. What might be some resources to help you?

  4. What is your why for accomplishing your goals?

A weekly journal prompt is enough to track your growth. Keep in mind, progress is far from linear, so don’t expect to produce the same results everyday. Show up, stay consistent, and reward your efforts. 💪


To many students, summertime is an opportunity to relax and recharge from the school year. With these tips from LeadYouth, you can have fun and maximize your potential for productivity! Get out there in the sun, go for your dreams, and don’t forget to apply sunscreen. 😎

Lesson Summary

  1. Narrow down your goals. Choose only the activities that you’re passionate about and that are worth your time.

  2. Focus on yourself, not others. Avoid comparison and recognize that everyone is embarking on their own journeys.

  3. Celebrate your wins. In order to stay motivated, check in with your progress every now and then and reward your efforts.

Try It Yourself!

  1. Make a list of your summer goals and break them up into small, medium, and big sizes.

  2. Create a daily schedule to manage your time efficiently.


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