What to Learn Over Summer Vacation

Most students — and families — focus on the learning that takes place in the classroom. And maybe they should, since classroom grades are the ones that end up on the transcript. Day in and day out, through note taking and homework, quizzes, tests and exams, students toil away from September to June.

But what about July and August? What can be learned then?

Academic Preparation: Summer reading isn’t busy work; schools assign it for a reason. Clearly, if students return to school having completed the assignment, teachers can begin instruction on the first day of school rather than using a week in September to get students ready to discuss the part of the curriculum. Also, reading books for the upcoming school year keeps students in the habit of thinking analytically and managing their time.

Independence: By setting their alarm clocks and getting to work on time, students reap a significant benefit of summer work. Managing their schedules, planning their routine, and making adjustments are all part of the time management skills that will be important in college…and in life.

Experience: Summer is the time to try new things and get hands-on experience in the real world — outside home and school.

Exploration: Student who aspire to careers as lawyers can get a taste of the legal life by interning in a law office. For future hospitality executives, a job at a hotel, a catering company or restaurant is a great way to gain more insights — and skills.

Responsibility: Most first jobs are summer jobs and entering into the world of work requires students to develop a new set of skills. Late to work is different from late to class, so students need to learn to be punctual. If you are absent from school, classes go on and others continue to learn. But who will stuff the envelopes, make the copies or walk the dogs if you miss work?

Generosity: What about students who can’t find jobs? Those students can find sustained volunteer positions and give their time and talents away. Generosity is one of life’s greatest lessons.

Of course, for students preparing for the application process, the summer before senior year is also a time to learn about colleges through campus visits. All in all, summer is a time for learning; perhaps not the September to June kind, but important learning nonetheless.