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Excitement for summer break builds as another school year winds down. As students look forward to well deserved downtime, it’s easy to fill your summer break with hours of video games or catching up on the latest Netflix series. While recovery time is needed, you can strike a balance between relaxing and taking actionable steps to reach your long-term goals.

Here are 10 ways to make the most of your summer break:

  1. Get a summer job

    If you’re looking for a great way to earn money for college, a summer job is ideal. A summer job helps you gain new skills through work experience, meet new people, and boost your confidence while earning money for college. 

  2. Land an internship

    While having a summer job is a great use of your time, finding an internship—especially in your field—is even better. While some internships aren’t paid, the experience you gain is invaluable. It gives you the chance to see if the field you’ve selected as a major is a good fit for you. Some colleges will even apply your unpaid internship hours as college credit hours. Check with your college admissions office to understand their requirements and the career center to explore available internship opportunities. 

  3. Enjoy the outdoors

    Being a full-time student often means there is limited time to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer. Studies show that spending time outdoors helps to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Being outdoors helps to boost our mood and self-esteem. Whether it’s hiking, swimming in the ocean, riding a bike, or fishing—make sure to take time to engage in whatever activity brings you joy.

  4. Earn college credit

    We all know that college can be expensive. Taking a CLEP or DSST exam is an efficient way to earn college credit. CLEP and DSST exams are a great alternative to enrolling in a summer course, so you don’t have to invest time in taking a class.  

  5. Travel to a new place

    For those who like adventure, traveling to a place you’ve never been before is a wonderful way to spend your time. If you’re in high school, use the time to visit colleges. You may find that the size of the town, the culture, or even the climate can influence your decision. Experiencing new sites, events, cultures, and food can be memorable and even life changing. If given the chance, don’t miss out on it! 

  6. Prepare for an admissions test

    From college admissions tests like the ACT or SAT, to graduate program exams like the GRE, LSAT, or MCAT, summer is the perfect time to prepare for your entrance exam. 
    Create a study schedule outlining the amount of time you’d like to set aside for test prep. Learn new study habits that boost your study time without causing fatigue and get started.

  7. Discover new hobbies

    Seek out activities that interest you and uncover your inner creativity. Now’s a great time to learn a new instrument or language, or enroll in a drawing or painting class in your community. Explore your family history through genealogy. Hobbies offer you new challenges and experiences while enriching personal growth and talents.

  8. Find a mentor

    Seek the advice of someone with experience who can advise you on goal setting, career development, and how to put your future plans into action. If you’re not sure where to start, you can connect with professional members of your community, a school advisor, a professor, family friends, or school alumni, to name a few. 

  9. Volunteering

    Many of us have causes and organizations we are passionate about, but don’t make time to serve. From cleaning up the environment to feeding the homeless to helping animal rescues, volunteering not only helps your community—it often gives you a new perspective and sense of purpose. Consider causes that have special meaning to you and sign up for volunteering opportunities in your community.

  10. Update your resume

    Even if you’ve had limited job experience, it’s recommended to start building out your resume. A resume is your story and a chance to describe the activities and skills that make you uniquely you. Aside from job experience, make sure to document activities such as notable projects, volunteer efforts, extracurricular activities, initiatives you’ve created, and other outstanding skills you have.

RELATED: Summer College Admissions Checklist for Graduating Seniors

Being productive during summer break and using your time wisely will ultimately help set you up for success. No matter how you plan to spend your summer, we hope you make time to achieve things that spark joy and inspiration.