For some parents, the summer is the hardest time of the year. Without school activities saturating their schedules, students sometimes fall into lethargy and boredom. 

 

This post is for the parents of teens who are tired of the “I’m bored” refrain and want some productive ideas to direct their teen in the right direction. For five tips on what your bored teen can do this summer, keep reading.

 

 

1. Summer Reading

Most high schools now send home a summer reading list for your teen to complete before the beginning of the new school year. While some students might be tempted to think of this as all they’ll read this summer, this should instead be considered a bare minimum.

 

Reading is an ideal activity for a bored teen for many reasons; it keeps their brains active, builds vocabulary, and brings insight into different cultures and experiences. With the right books, reading can be exciting and engaging—your teen might become engrossed in another world. 

 

For some ideas on great books to suggest to your teen, check out our post Smart Summer Reading Recommendations for High School Students.

 

 

2. Service Work

Getting involved in a worthy cause is a more than worthy way to spend the summer. Volunteer work empowers students to identify issues that they care about and to make a real difference in their communities. Not only will the recipients of your student’s hard work benefit; your student will benefit too.  

 

For one, volunteering is good for your teen. The mental health site Help Guide notes that research links volunteer work with increased levels of happiness. It also works to reduce stress, connect people within a community, and can increase future career opportunities.

 

Service work can also become an important part of college applications, though this by all means should be a secondary reason for pursuing it. It serves as evidence of empathy and kindness, both qualities that are of increasing importance with the growth of the Making Caring Common initiative out of Harvard University. Undertaken over an extended period, it can also exhibit dedication and commitment.

 

For more information about finding and pursuing volunteer opportunities, see our post Best Places for High Schoolers to Do Community Service.

 

 

3. College Visits

Summer is the perfect time to visit some colleges if your kids are entering their junior or senior year of college. Before visiting, be sure they’ve fine-tuned their college list. Encourage them to consider the factors with the greatest weight in their college choices, such as location, size, majors, housing, or study abroad opportunities. 

 

Applicants should seek to compile a list of colleges of varying selectivity, each of which they would be happy to attend. You can learn more about crafting a college list by reviewing these CollegeVine posts:

 

The College List, Decoded: Safety, Target, and Reach Schools

Seven Tips for Creating Your College List

Five Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Your College List

10 Considerations For Making Your College List

 

Rising juniors might focus on visiting colleges that are more local. These visits tend to be less of an investment and can be more casual. Together, you can choose whether to attend a formal tour or information session while on campus, basing your decision on how far your teen is in the college planning process.

 

Rising seniors should have a more developed college list, so their visits might be more official and strategic. These visits could involve traveling longer distances and should ideally include meeting with admissions representatives, or scheduling an interview or tour.

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If visiting colleges in-person simply isn’t possible for you this summer, there are still options available to explore different colleges. One valuable resource comes in the form of virtual campus tours. One popular site providing this service is eCampus Tours. Here, you’ll find virtual tours of over 1,300 colleges searchable by state.

 

To learn more about capitalizing on college visits, check out these CollegeVine posts:

 

Parents, Make the Most Out of College Tours With Your Teen

Don’t Visit Any Colleges Without Reading This First

5 Things You Can Learn From Summer Campus Visits

What To Do After You Visit A College

 

 

4. SAT or ACT Prep

While this suggestion might lead to the typical eye rolls, summer is the perfect time to get serious about SAT and ACT prep. Since students often have larger chunks of free time, they’ll be able to sit down for practice tests or other timed exercises.

 

If your teen is a rising junior in high school, this might take a more casual approach. Your teen can loosely prepare for standardized tests by reading lots of varied materials, including newspaper articles, scientific journals, historical texts, and novels. Excerpts from all of the above are commonly included on standardized tests, so becoming familiar with them will give your student a big leg up on test day.

 

Rising seniors will have ideally already taken the test once and be working steadily to improve their score, if needed. For tips about how rising seniors can use the summer for standardized test prep, check out our post Your SAT Study Plan for the Summer Before 12th Grade.

 

 

5. Be a Kid

It’s easy to forget that your students’ years of carefree summers are limited. Before long, they’ll leave the nest and their summers will be packed with internships, summer research, and other adult commitments. That’s why you should make time for your teen to be a kid this summer.

 

Encourage your teen to go swimming with friends, take a camping trip, go to the movies, and go out for ice cream. If your kids need a ride to hang out with friends, try to make time to accommodate them. Remember, your children might move away from their high school friends once they leave for college, so help them enjoy these last summers together.

 

For more advice about using summers productively and long-term college planning, consider the benefits of the CollegeVine Near Peer Mentorship Program, which provides access to practical advice on topics from course selection and extracurriculars to college applications and career aspirations, all from successful college students.

 

For more information about parenting a college-bound teen, check out these posts:

 

Parents, How Involved Should You be in the Application Process?

Parent Perspective: What You Need to Know About Today’s College Applications

How Can I Help My Child Prepare for College Applications?

What Parents Need to Know About SAT and ACT Studying Prep

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Kate Sundquist

Kate Sundquist

Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.
Kate Sundquist