While summer may seem a long way off, now is the time to start talking with your tweens and teens about summer activities. Whether your child is thinking about applying to US boarding schools or universities, there are many activities s/he can get involved in that will both help them learn more about themselves and their interests, and also strengthen their applications to schools. In addition to taking some time to relax and perhaps go on a family holiday, here are some suggestions for things to consider:
- Summer school – Many US boarding schools and colleges offer summer programs for students to study a wide range of topics. Some also include test-prep courses, tours of nearby college campuses, and extra-curricular activities. A few tips when looking into programs: It’s more important to find courses and a program that you are interested in than to attend a school because it has a “brand name.” These programs are a great opportunity to expand horizons and learn about topics of interest that aren’t available during the school year, so consider a course in Robotics, Psychology, or Architecture (something that’s not offered in the normal school curriculum).
- Volunteer work – Summer is a great time to get involved with volunteer work (community service), since students have more time to commit, so they can get involved more meaningfully in a project on a regular basis. While there are many overseas programs that focus on volunteer work, there are also lots of great non-profits in Hong Kong that are always looking for volunteers to give of their time. It’s important to choose an activity that you enjoy doing, so that the time will be well spent and worthwhile. Whether it’s the environment, the elderly, asylum seekers, or children, there are many worthy causes to help out, and the breadth and length of time you can be a great experience that can be continued on a regular basis throughout the year.
- Internship/ job shadowing – While formal internships for high school students are hard to find, many students are able to find internship or job shadowing opportunities by asking family and friends, and also by proactively contacting companies, especially start-ups, who are often looking for extra help. Choosing an industry you are interested in is also a great way to get a sense of what it’s really like to work in that field, as opposed to studying that subject in the classroom.
- Research – For students interested in a specific field, finding opportunities to do research with professors at local universities can also be a great opportunity to learn more about a field of interest. Opportunities for research can be found across disciplines, not only in the sciences, but it helps to start early, cast you net wide, and be honest about your strengths and where you can add value.
- Work experience – While not common in Hong Kong for high school students, finding a job at a store, in a restaurant, or at a camp for younger kids is a great way to earn some pocket money, and also learn more about yourself and what you do and don’t like about working.
- Other interests and activities – The summer is a great time for students to spend time pursuing interests and activities that they have less time for during the school year. Many students delve deeper into their interests by joining sports leagues, entering music competitions, developing computer skills or taking part in outdoor adventures. Participation in activities will not only help students identify interests and passions, but they can also help develop teamwork and leadership skills.