For those of us in the Northeast, we are at the point in the winter season when the idea of warm weather and being outside without multiple layers of clothing on is very appealing. While we can all daydream of a more temperate climate, it is also a good time for high school students to think about their summer plans as well. 

As a college counselor, I think it is very important that the summer months should be a good combination of both rest and rejuvenation, but also one that has purpose including a time for personal and professional exploration. Whether you are choosing to apply to competitive colleges in the future, still unsure of what you want to do after high school, or just have no idea of what kind of experience you want to have for the summer, early planning is important. The options for the summer are endless and I encourage students to think about what would allow for a great balance of opportunities that include fun, challenge, and exploration. Here are some good steps to follow to help prepare: 

Before just arbitrarily choosing a summer program or plan, be sure that your time is going to align with your short- and long-term goals. If you need to earn money, finding a job that is going to appeal to your interests or enhance skills you are hoping to learn will be very valuable. There are many colleges that offer courses that could be appealing, but knowing your interests will help narrow down what to look for and which colleges might best help you get more knowledge in a particular summer.

You will also want to think about other things like cost, location, housing, food options, and more. Be sure to do a self-reflective exercise, to begin thinking what would be the best way to fill up the summer months that is meaningful. 


The process of securing summer plans starts as early as December, January, and February, with many popular programs and experiences seeking applications from students or securing their arrangements for the summer months. Take advantage of online resources to learn about summer programs at colleges and universities and various national and international organizations, identify camp programs that are appealing, talk to employers who are looking for seasonal workers, or locate volunteer organizations that would love to take on students during the summer months. 

The following sites include some great information for internship programs, academic competitions, volunteer options, and more: 

Academic Internships and Research Opportunity List

Points of Light Virtual Volunteering Opportunities 

TeenLife Summer Program Options 

Make It Happen!

Best advice is to not wait until the last minute to secure your summer plans. Check application deadline dates and be sure to submit things on time. Get assistance from school counselors and teachers if you need a transcript or letter of recommendation. Start talking to employers to see if they want to hire seasonal workers – they might need time to do some planning to bring you onto the team. Reach out to volunteer organizations and see about starting with them now on a limited basis with the intention of spending more time with them during the summer months. Whatever you decide you want to do, start making things happen now. 

If you want to take advantage of learning more about how to explore summer program options and how it can support the development of skills and a great resume, please connect with us at to schedule a complimentary initial call.