50 Summer Activities for High School Students
Summer is a time for some much-needed relaxation. But it’s also a time to work towards your goals. Admissions committees want to see that you’re being productive and accomplishing something during your breaks. At a loss for what to do this summer? Here are 50 of our favorite ideas. Do one, five, ten—or come up with your own, original ideas!
1. Enroll in college classes. Just because you haven’t matriculated at college yet doesn’t mean you can’t dabble in classes. If you take classes now, you may get a head start on credits when you start your college career, which could save you time and money in the long run. Community colleges and some state schools will allow you to enroll in individual courses at a low cost. For more information, check out Should I Take College Classes Over the Summer?.
2. Take online courses. If you’re unable to take classes in person, there are plenty of opportunities to learn online. Many online course databases, such as Lynda.com and Skillshare, offer online subscriptions that allow you to access thousands of courses with video tutorials, teaching important skills like SEO. Check out 7 Online Educational Opportunities This Summer if You Can’t Take an In-Person Course for more educational opportunities online.
3. Participate in pre-college programs. Colleges and other institutions across the country offer summer programs to high school students looking for a taste of college life. In most cases, students live in dorms and take classes, much like they will when they matriculate as college freshman in a few years. In some cases, you might be able to earn college credits that you can apply to your degree later on.
4. Attend an academic camp. Similar to pre-college programs, academic camps often allow students to live in dorms and participate in college-level curriculums. However, these camps are generally focused on a specific niche or talent, such as science, as with the National Youth Science Camp, or creative writing. These camps are ideal for high schoolers who have a passion or definite idea of the discipline they want to pursue.
5. Attend performing arts classes or camps. Future actors will enjoy classes and camps catering to prospective theater majors. Check out our guide to theater arts summer programs for ideas.
6. Participate in visual arts classes or camps. There are several art institutes, such as the Rhode Island School of Design, that offer summer courses and programs for aspiring artists.
7. Study for the SAT or ACT. Now is a good time to enroll in standardized test or college prep classes, since you don’t have to study for your high school school tests. CollegeVine’s SAT Tutoring program will help you prepare with proven strategies and tutors from top schools.
8. Take private lessons in an area of interest. Now is a great time to learn something you’ve always wanted to know how to do—sing, speak French, sew…whatever you want!
Learn a New Skill
9. Study a foreign language. Whether you want to gain proficiency in a language you study at school or learn a new one, summer is a great time for practice. Try an app like Duo Lingo, or connect with a native speaker online.
10. OR a programming language. Have you always want to create an app or build a website? Learning how to program can set you up with the skills you’ll need.
11. OR sign language. Becoming proficient in ASL will give you a unique, not to mention extremely useful, skill.
12. Hone your leadership skills through a program or independent activity. For example, you might participate in Girls and Boys State.
13. Take dancing lessons.
14. Join a sports team or practice an independent sport like running.
15. Learn how to cook or bake. Julia Child didn’t learn how to cook until she was in her late 30s, so it’s not too late for you to become a master chef! You can even have a bake sale and raise money for charity or put it aside for your college savings.
16. Start singing or playing a musical instrument.
17. Study a visual art discipline, such as painting or photography.
18. Teach yourself or work with a teacher to become proficient in a marketable skill, such as using Photoshop like an expert. This is something you can put on your resume and will help you find professional jobs.
19. Start a garden. You might help out your community by creating a community garden.
20. Learn self defense. This is a very useful skill to know throughout your life.
21. Take a class in CPR or First Aid. Being proficient in these skills will help you in many professions, especially ones involving children.
22. Practice mindfulness or meditation. These can be useful techniques to help you manage your stress, especially as you enter college application season.
23. Write. You could also enter writing contests and try to get your work published.
Get a Side Hustle
24. Find a side job and earn some cash to put aside for college. Having a job can be an impressive extracurricular activity!
25. Be a camp counselor at a local or sleepaway summer camp.
26. Start your own business. This show colleges that you have many of the skills they’re looking for: leadership, innovation, and gumption.
27. Land an internship, and get a taste of your future industry.
28.Ask friends, family, and neighbors if the have any work for you, such as babysitting or lawn-mowing.
29. Do a service project, such as Habitat for Humanity.
30. Tutor peers or younger students at your school or within your community.
31. Connect with local organizations, such as an after-school program, to see if they have any need for summer volunteers.
32. Volunteer with your library. You might read with kids or shelve books.
33. Visit a soup kitchen or homeless shelter and help people in need.
34. Work with animals at an animal shelter.
If service is important to you, check out our list of colleges for people who want to make a difference.
Check out these posts for other volunteering opportunities:
35. Study abroad. Check out our guide for six great study abroad opportunities.
36. Spin a family trip into an extracurricular. You might take classes on your trip, learn a new skill, or volunteer.
37. Tour colleges now that you have the time.
38. Engage in service opportunities abroad.
Check Something Off Your Bucket List
39. Train for a 5k, 10k, or marathon.
40. Tackle some books you’ve always meant to read.
41. Hike a mountain or embark on another adventure you’ve always dreamed of doing.
42. Plant a tree. You could even turn it into a community service project by gathering a group to plant trees across your neighborhood.
Plan for Next Year
43. Brainstorm your college essays. If you’re an entering senior, developing essay ideas now will help you during the busy application season, when you’ll also need to study for your classes and tests.
44. Hone your college list.
45. If you’re an entering senior, start working on college applications.
46. Plan a club to start. Here are some ideas.
47. Brainstorm new ideas for your club to do as a group.
48. Connect with teachers to ask for advice or college recommendations.
49. Create an action plan for the coming year.
And don’t forget…
50. Relax. Just because you want to show colleges that you’re being productive and not wasting the summer doesn’t mean you can’t take some time to recuperate.
Check out these posts for more advice on summer activities:
Want access to expert college guidance — for free? When you create your free CollegeVine account, you will find out your real admissions chances, build a best-fit school list, learn how to improve your profile, and get your questions answered by experts and peers—all for free. Sign up for your CollegeVine account today to get a boost on your college journey.
Want more tips on improving your academic profile?
We'll send valuable information to help you strengthen your profile and get ready for college admissions.