Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Summer Months: Time for Learning Outside the Classroom

Summer is in full swing and students all across the country are trying their hand at various pursuits of their choosing.  It’s the time of year when high school and college students engage in activities to enrich their academic learning and pursue their interests. Summer experiences provide key opportunities to shape and identify one’s passions and interests for the future, while building their résumé.  

A meaningful summer experience can encompass many different activities.  A future writer can try interning for a newspaper to determine if he should pursue journalism as a career.  A skilled math student may take a summer introductory class to figure out if she wants to apply to college as an engineering major.

Though such academic pursuits are obviously important shaping experiences, kids can equally benefit from non-academic endeavors as well.  Student athletes on the brink of a college scholarship may attend sports camps to streamline their abilities and students interested in working abroad may immerse themselves in another country’s language and culture.  The important aspect of a summer experience the pursuit itself—it is anything that will help students move towards their goals and make a productive use of the long summer months.

The problem is that not all students can afford to spend the summer venturing out on their own.  Important responsibilities, such as making money for the school year or caring for family, often prevent ambitious students from pursuing their interests.  Because of restrictions outside of their control, students miss out on opportunities that their peers get to experience. 

For this reason, one component of the Elizabeth Fellows programs involves helping our students find a way to do something productive and enriching between their junior and senior years in high school.  Mentors will help the fellows decide what they would like to explore and make connections with summer opportunities that fit with the student’s obligations.  We want to empower students through summer opportunities that they may otherwise not be able to discover, because everyone deserves the chance to push themselves and discover who they are. 

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