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Schools Out, Now What?

Schools Out, Now What?
by Madison Cook | Contributor


Exams are over, the weather is finally warming up, and SUMMER IS FINALLY HERE! Late nights, sleeping in, Netflix marathons, and 12 hour tan sessions! What could be better?

Well… About a week of this “summer fun” and suddenly, school doesn’t seem so bad after all. Three months of no school means lots of time for relaxation, but how much is too much? It seems as if teens are always struggling to find the perfect balance between complete relaxation and finding ways to be productive during this time off. With an increasingly competitive college admissions process and the current business landscape overtaking young adults of the 21st century, the importance of making effective use out of summer is greater than ever. But what exactly is the “productiveness” preached by parents and teachers?

According to Marie Bigham, Greenhill School’s College Counseling Director and Director, Board of Directors, National Association for College Admission Counseling, colleges want to see that students do “something” with their time besides hangout. Summers should be productive, but that can be defined a number of ways, including summer camp, jobs, academic work, research, travel, and participating in sports. Bigham advises to stay away from expensive programs that seem to over-promise, mentioning “no summer program will get a kid into college, and free activities are just as good as expensive ones.”  Colleges understand that summer is a time to relax, though they hope to see intellectual and community engagement as well as proven commitment and responsibility. Ideally, colleges hope that students learn life-skills, like how to deal with the public, showing up consistently, and earning money — all great skills derived from a summer job!  Bigham acknowledges that finding an opportunity can be difficult, though she recommends teenlife.com as a great resource to seek out opportunities. While few companies actually offer jobs for teenagers, Bigham says her best advice for teens looking for jobs is to be humble, open-minded, and very open to “grunt work”.


Sunshine, Fun Time and a Whole Lot of College Prep…

Hear How Some Kids are Spending Their Summer Break


Lauren Raskin, rising senior

Ursuline Academy of Dallas

“Summer is the time of year that re-energizes us, and (even if only for a short time) we don’t worry about school!  Since the age of 7, I have spent most of my summers at the stables, riding as much as I possibly can.  This summer the challenge will be to balance horseback riding with ACT prep and college visits!”


Sophie Shiff, rising junior

Plano West Senior High School

SnJEQSOq5N6ZQW-CJ9G1hl9yLAZh8r6-slnPbA4ykVM“During the summer, I think teens should enjoy the long break off school but also take advantage of all of that time off and get prepared for the upcoming year!  I plan on relaxing, spending time with my friends and enjoying sleeping in while also preparing for junior year by taking SAT classes. Also, I plan on getting ahead with my volunteer work through NCL.”



Walker Tait, rising junior

Greenhill School

“I think teens should take the free time they get during the summer to hang out with friends and relax. They should take the time to travel and to get out of the constant routine that is the school year, while still finding ways to stimulate their minds, such as reading.”


Caitlin Smith, current senior

Plano East High School 
Pitai0PYIwiffjaQfaEfE-3U52O8gr9hK4ApIgwczqw“After my high school graduation, I am planning to spend quality time with my friends and family.    It is important that I enjoy the last couple months I have with my friends while also making sure to buy all my necessities for college.  Because I am a high school senior, this summer should be somewhat calmer than past high school summers. Last year, I was an intern at Kaplan Pediatrics in Plano and had the opportunity to shadow Dr. Kaplan.  It was a very enjoyable, yet also very educational experience.  I think that is what summer is all about; making productive use of free time while also enjoying yourself.”


Daria Cosgrove, rising junior

Plano West Senior High School

“During the summer I think teens should be spending their time outside enjoying the hot summer sun, and exercising and not sitting on the couch! I plan on playing a lot of basketball and working out a lot to get my game better, but I also plan to spend a lot of time in the sun and with friends hanging out and having a good time. Another priority I have this summer is to prepare myself for the SAT/ACT, so I will be going to prep classes to do that!”


Joy Kurdi, rising junior, Prince of Peace Christian School

AdvYuFQmY1GXRVymgBXBRVoa0JCjQv9F6rQhfpgRsjM“I’m traveling to Europe for the first time with my family!  We plan stops in London, Spain, Scotland, and France. I’m waiting right now for my first passport to arrive in the mail!”



Sam Yuan, rising junior

Prince of Peace Christian School

“This was my first year in the United States and also my first year of American high school. I will be taking a summer class in June, and then I will head back home to China in mid-July.  I’ll return to the U.S. in August for my junior year of high school.”


Keaton Butowsky, rising senior, Greenhill School

GX0ZlC9yBlM1JrnIlBh0hhadFw12VdmnnF-0tShji_Y“I believe summer is all about doing things you are not able to do during the busy school year.  I am spending a month in Taipei, Taiwan as part of a Chinese immersion program, taking economics at Greenhill to give me more flexibility with classes during the school year, taking a college essay workshop to prepare for college apps, and working on student council (Keaton has recently been elected all school president for his senior year).


Kahrej Alhuwalia, rising junior

Plano West Senior High School

“This summer I look forward to celebrating my brothers’ graduations from high school before focusing on my SAT preparation while balancing time with family and friends.  I believe teens should spend summer preparing for their future, while also relaxing and having fun on their break.  In the past, I have also spent my summer aiding charity organizations around the metroplex.”


JC Weed, rising senior

Prince of Peace Christian School

GxBm3mD9Ku1SzOfTQWgu4lr5-lzgCf5SybOEJS4Tg3w“I was in a serious Mule ATV accident in January.  So, I’ll be continuing physical therapy this summer, as well as practicing to run again for the POPCS cross-country team.  My family and I are also visiting colleges in the Northeast, including Clemson University, Cornell University, and Purdue University.”

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