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Say “No” to Summer School This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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The overwhelming feeling of joy and relief when you finish your last final is something all students should experience. Why would anyone want to complete their last final only to have that feeling smothered when they remember summer school begins in a week? Summer school is not fun. High school students should not have to spend their summers sitting in a stuffy classroom listening to a lecture about a war between the Greeks and the Turks in the 13th century; they should be participating in activities that interest them.

Due to increasing competition to get into top colleges, many high-achieving students take summer classes at community colleges or online to “improve” their transcript. However, most colleges aren’t just counting classes during the admissions process. One admissions officer says, “We seek passionate students and we value their diverse interests from art to science, from sports to community service.” Her opinion reflects many college admissions officers.

Instead of enrolling in summer classes (unless they reflect a passionate interest), you should be exploring new fields of study in an exciting, unusual way. Forget the Spanish class – find a way to visit Mexico for a month and learn the language and culture firsthand. If that sounds expensive, many organizations can help you find grants, fellowships, and scholarships for travel.

Studying abroad is a priceless, life-altering experience because you can immerse yourself in a culture different from your own. One student at my school visited France last summer and stayed with a family in Narbonne who “barely spoke a word of English.” She says that studying abroad “forces you out of your comfort zone to communicate with people in another language. You get to be very independent and learn a lot, more than you would in summer school.” In other words, living abroad is one of the most eye-opening, worthwhile ways to spend a summer.

Internships are also a great way to put a twist on summer education. Instead of taking chemistry as an online course, you could help in a lab and learn how real chemists work. One senior I know interned at a construction company this past summer. He explains, “I enjoyed having an internship instead of summer school because you get to work one-on-one with people who work in a field you might be interested in. I would recommend summer internships because even though you don’t get paid, you get work experience and start to see what types of jobs you might enjoy doing for the rest of your life.” Even if it means working without pay, spending a summer as an intern helps you determine where your interests lie; taking a class just to earn credits does not accomplish that.

So unless your summer school is for remedial reasons or for a subject you truly feel passionate about, don’t do it. You only have eight months worth of high school summers in your lifetime – you might as well make them extraordinary.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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