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As the summer months approach, many students are thinking about which activities will “look good” on their college applications. While keeping an eye towards college admissions is always a good idea, it is also vital to use your summer to unwind and decompress from the school months and allow yourself to grow and learn new things. I believe that summers are best spent exploring a passion, learning something about a new interest, reading books that you didn’t have time for during the school year and spending time with family and friends.

When I talk to students about the summer, I encourage them to have an “anchor”. This is the activity to which they devote the most time and energy during the summer months. Your anchor could be a summer job, a program in which you pursue your extracurricular passion more deeply, an internship, a course in which you learn something new, a service program through which you truly help others or a long-term project that you have yearned for more time to complete. This “anchor” activity will most likely be the part of your summer about which you speak and write in the application process.

Once you have your “anchor” activity in place, you can strive for balance in the rest of the things you choose to do. It is still vital to do meaningful things with your time, but you are responsible for deciding what is meaningful to you. Make sure you leave space for those unexpected discoveries, for time with your loved ones and for self-exploration; those are the real markers of time well spent!

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