Teenagers, we’ve made it — after an entire year of online (or partially online) school, summer is finally here. No more falling asleep in Zoom classes, scrolling through missing Google Classroom assignments, or half heartedly cramming for finals and AP exams.
Unfortunately, the end of the school year doesn’t necessarily mean a return to normalcy; for many of us, COVID-19 restrictions are still in place, and summer ‘21 might not be as “perfect” as we’re imagining.
Regardless, there are plenty of things for us teenagers to do this summer. If you’re looking for productive ways to spend your summer as a teenager in 2021, look no further — here are seven productive ideas:
1. Go On a Virtual College Campus Tour
For many teenagers, summer is the perfect time to explore college campuses and get a sense of where they might be spending the next few years of their lives. However, college exploration is not as easy this summer as it previously may have been.
With COVID-19 still wide-spread in numerous U.S. states, many colleges are closing their campuses and refusing to offer campus tours. Still, there are others ways for teenagers to see what their dream colleges are like, even in this virtual setting.
Many colleges, such as Stanford and USC, offer free 360° virtual tours. Those interested can go to their websites to see whether or not certain schools have these tours (or other virtual tours of some sort) available. If not, YouTube always have some great and informal student-filmed tours as well.
2. Start a Passion Project
Starting a passion project is another great way for teenagers to spend their summers. Thankfully, these projects can generally be adapted to follow all COVID guidelines, which makes them perfect to work on this summer.
A passion project is any sort of project that a person begins to pursue their personal interests. Essentially, the point of a passion project for teenagers is to encourage them to explore their own interests rather than to simply participate in activities that they think will appeal to colleges or employers.
For example, if someone was really interested in fitness, they could launch a fitness blog or podcast. They could also hold virtual workshops, start a business or nonprofit, or do anything else revolving around their particular passion.
3. Hold Study Sessions
This might sound incredibly lame, but I genuinely believe that studying can be really fun. Although there might not be classes during the summer, it’s still a good time to study for big exams like the SAT or ACT.
To make studying more fun, meet up with a friend and go over the material together. Go to a nice location, somewhere where you can take breaks and eat snacks in between studying, and work together through practice tests and problems.
Studying with other people is infinite times more fun than studying alone, and it can be extremely beneficial as well (depending on who you choose to study with).
4. Attend a Summer Program
Summer programs are great for people who are easily bored or thrown off-track without guidance. Ask around and see if there are any programs in your area that you might be interested in; it is likely that there will be, although they might be virtual this summer due to COVID.
Many colleges offer educational summer programs, so do some research and see if any of them are still accepting applications. Attending these programs can help you stay productive, learn new information, and meet new people.
5. Apply to Scholarships
If you’re stuck at home on your computer this summer, you may as well apply to scholarships. Take some time each week to research scholarships through websites like Unigo and Niche — secure some of the billions of dollars of scholarship money that go unclaimed each year.
You can also start researching local scholarships that you might qualify for, such as ones offered by your school or club. Make a spreadsheet with the due dates for each of these scholarships, and get to work!
6. Get a Job
A lot of teenagers get summer jobs in hopes of saving up for cars, clothes, or other things. If you’re in a similar boat, but want to avoid being around too many people this summer due to COVID, consider applying for a position that involves little interaction — working at a library, for example, would allow you to keep to yourself for the most part, reducing risks of being infected with COVID.
If that still sounds too risky, look into other online income options. Teenagers can make money by participating in online tutoring programs, by completing surveys, and by freelance writing, among other things.
7. Take a Free Online Class
Online classes are a great way to keep learning in the summer while also staying safe from COVID. You can choose from among hundreds of topics and learn at your own pace, with no real grades or consequences.
Harvard, UC Irvine, MIT, and other top universities are offering courses that are completely free to the public. Simply check out their websites, choose a course, and start learning.
These are just some ideas to get you started. Of course, it’s important to remember that summer is meant to be fun. Make sure to balance your productivity and work with enjoyable activities, such as going to the beach or spending time with friends.
Take a break and get some rest before next school year starts — chances are, it won’t be online any longer.
Annabelle Ink is an incoming senior in high school. She enjoys cheerleading, baking, listening to music, and playing the piano. She also enjoys writing about lifestyle topics and current events.