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Summer Survival Guide: How to Get Ahead This Summer

As the school year draws to an end, many parents face a challenging new problem: What should students do over the summer? The struggle to balance well-deserved relaxation time with productive activities can leave some parents wondering how to keep their kids happy while also giving them every opportunity to get ahead over summer vacation. With the copious number of summer programs out there, it can be difficult to choose which one best fits your child’s personality, interests, and goals. The key to striking the right balance of productivity and rest during summer break is dedicating parts of the summer to maintaining some of the same habits and routines students have throughout the school year. While rest can be extremely productive after nine months of school, sleeping past noon everyday often leads to a poor transition come August. Finding the right combination of summer activities can be daunting, so we broke down the best ways to help your student get ahead this summer.

Review and Preview Difficult Material

The summer is the perfect time to review or preview challenging course material. During the hectic school year, students may develop knowledge gaps that can come back to haunt them down the road, particularly within subject like math or language arts that are cumulative by nature. These subjects tend to build upon the previous year’s material. Targeted tutoring over the summer to solidify your student’s foundation can be a very worthwhile investment.

Standardized Test Prep

Standardized tests can sneak up on you. Whether you have a high schooler preparing for the ACT/SAT or a middle schooler preparing for the HSPT/ISEE, the summer is an ideal time to work in test prep around camps and/or family vacations. Without the stress of homework and other school activities, students can progress quite quickly over the summer to improve their scores. Not only does summer test prep help to increase scores, it also keeps kids’ brains engaged and sharpens both math and reading comprehension skills.


Volunteer work can be just as rewarding for your soul as it can be for your resume. Many summer camps, nonprofits, and community centers are on the lookout for young volunteers. Volunteer work helps establish a routine, grow your resume, and expand your horizons. It also feels good to help others! Just do a quick google search for volunteer opportunities in your area and you will surely find an easy way to help your community. Your religious institution and your child’s school may also have a list of really great summer volunteer opportunities. This volunteer work also contributes to broadening perspectives, which are taken into account during higher education and in a variety of other backgrounds. 

Prepare For Senior Year

Transitioning into any stage of your school life can be difficult, but none more so than entering your senior year. A time that you may have longed to experience for so long. And now, it is the summer before this big and exciting change. Have they got all the learning materials they need? Do they have colleges or scholarships lined up? Is there a possibility that they already have assignments to get done? These are all questions you need to think about asking your children, even if it is the summer months. You’ll be grateful that you did when you see how calm this transition has been.

Start Thinking About College

High school students should devote time over the summer to the college admissions process. One of the easiest things to do is to start visiting colleges. Doing college visits over the summer will help students clarify what type of school they want to attend and how they can modify their actions to reach that goal. Another college-related activity that is best done over the summer is applications. We recommend all rising seniors consider starting their college applications over the summer because the sheer multitude of required essays can be overbearing during the school year. Using free time over the summer to take the load off of your future self is always a wise decision. College essays are also a great opportunity to improve writing skills. 

Summer School

Summer school is not the right option for everyone, but it can be a wise decision for some. Most high schools will completely replace low grades from the prior year with higher grades earned over the summer. In fact, many schools offer classes that do not span the entire summer, so families can still plan much-needed vacations. If your student earned a C+ or lower in any class, it might be worthwhile exploring summer class options to improve GPA. Other than the grade boost, summer school is another way to help students avoid making the same mistakes the following year. Summer school classes are often smaller, where students can have greater access to their teacher. The more intimate classroom setting provides a perfect opportunity for students to improve their executive function skills while also avoiding knowledge gaps in the following school year.

Enrichment Programs

For students who struggle with motivation, summer enrichment programs can be a game changer. These programs offer students the chance to pursue subjects they are passionate about that are not taught during the normal school year (e.g., robotics or software design). Whether your child is into fashion, entrepreneurship, or creative writing, summer enrichment programs are a great way to improve their resume and have some fun in the process. Most high school counseling departments keep a list of their recommended summer programs on file. Look for subject areas your student loves already. These programs often provide students with the spark they need to work harder in school and achieve their goals. When students get to experience their passions firsthand, they see how their effort in school can help them find other awesome opportunities. It’s a win-win!

Summer Jobs/Internships

Summer jobs are a great way for students to gain discipline and life experience while also maintaining healthy habits and routines. The responsibility of a summer job can be exactly what some students need during the summer. These opportunities provide structure and give students a feeling of accomplishment. 

Final Thoughts

Yes, the summer should be a time for relaxation, but it should also be a time for growth. Students should process the knowledge and experience they gained the year before, make adjustments, and prepare for the challenge of the next school year. By maintaining routines, focusing on growth, and laying the foundation for future success, parents can easily help their students plan for the summer.

Our coaches and tutors are here to help you and your student(s) make the best of these summer months. Visit us at, email us at, or call our offices to discuss how we can help!

Evan Weinberger


Staying Ahead of the Game offers unique academic coaching & tutoring services to help good students achieve greatness.

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