Juniors: Ways to Have A Productive Summer


Photo by Caroline Newman, University Communications at University of Virginia

Paige Garczynski, Staff Writer

I am sure that all juniors, myself included, will be having our most productive summer yet this year. With college applications on the horizon, seasonal jobs and internships in full swing, and summer programs and courses galore, everyone seems to be busy. If you are feeling behind or underwhelmed with your current summer plans, know that you are not alone. Here are some of the best ways to put your summer before senior year to good use. Remember, however, the importance of spending time with family and friends, getting some much-needed rest and relaxation, and taking a break from constant work.


The WINternship program may look a little different this year, but Ms. Mantler has been beyond dedicated toward ensuring that these opportunities are still available to students. With disciplines ranging from the humanities to law to veterinary practice, as well as virtual, hybrid, and in-person options, there is guaranteed to be something for everyone. Applications for these programs are open to current freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, and are due by May 3. If you do not have the time to commit to a full-time internship, there are various Zoom call opportunities featuring different professionals hosting presentations and Q&A sessions about their careers. These may be more convenient as they are usually only an hour or two long and take place completely virtually. While these Zoom calls may not be a formal internship opportunity, they are a great way to learn more about a professional field and make alumni connections.

Summer Courses

A great way to get ahead academically and keep yourself engaged through the summer is by taking a summer course. The Community College of Baltimore County offers a plethora of affordable classes through the Parallel Enrollment Program, which is open to Maryland-resident high schoolers. Other local public and private universities, including Towson University and the University of Maryland, are open for dual enrollment applications for the summer semester, too. Additionally, the online platform edX is a domain with completely free AP course material and lessons. While you will not receive credit for completing any of these courses, this is a great way to get a jumpstart on your AP courses for the next school year or to submerge yourself into a new subject of interest.

Summer Programs

Immersive summer programs are great resume-builders. Just about every community, private, and public college across the country (and there are international options, as well!) offers a plethora of options within different subjects and majors. Some of these programs even offer college credits or letters of recommendation upon completion. These programs range from being free of cost to having tuition of a few thousand dollars. A list of some of these opportunities for juniors can be found on PrepNet under “Class of 2022” -> “Topics” -> “College Counseling.”

Test Preparation

If you intend to retake the ACT or SAT this summer or fall, it would be an incredibly wise use of your time to spend these summer months preparing for your exam. There are many options for both online and in-person tutoring services; I personally utilized a local private tutor located in Towson to prepare during last summer and fall. Another great resource is the KhanAcademy website; KhanAcademy has an official partnership with CollegeBoard, so all of the practice tests and problems are guaranteed to be the real deal and what you can expect on the SAT. There are also many options for review and test prep books available online and at bookstores such as Barnes and Noble; my personal favorite brand is Kaplan.

Volunteering & Work

One of the best ways to get involved with your community is through volunteering and employment. If you are just starting out looking, websites like Indeed.com and VolunteerMatch are your best resources. If not successful, from there, I would recommend cold-calling restaurants or dropping into local businesses to ask if they are hiring; taking this initiative to reach out is a great first impression for a potential manager. Typical work for a high school student would look like serving or preparing food, lifeguarding, babysitting, camp counseling, or working retail/cashiering. These same opportunities can also take the form of volunteer work at retirement communities, shelters, and non-profit businesses. Volunteer work can be one of the best ways to set yourself apart from other applicants, so try to strive for opportunities that you truly enjoy. For example, if you really love working with children, look into working at a daycare, or if you are really interested in environmental health, get involved in an initiative to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

College Applications

The CommonApp opens this year on August 1, but it is wise to have the majority of your application portfolio together before that. Before August, you should make sure to have contacted all of the teachers, employers, mentors, etc. who will be writing your recommendations; be sure to send them your resume, “What I Learned in Your Class” document, and any other supporting materials at their request. Through the summer, as well, it is best to begin brainstorming essay topic ideas, continuing to build your resume, visiting colleges, and compiling research for these forthcoming years.


Take time this summer to relax and enjoy yourself, but also be strategic with your time and energy. This year has gone by in a flash, and the summer is guaranteed to go by even quicker. When September rolls around, your senior-year self will thank you for the hard work and dedication that you will have put in.