Where art thou, summer break?

March 9, 2011 — by Evaline Ju and Vivian LeTran

Remember those summer days spent lazing around, going to the beach or the mall every other day? Or when our parents signed us up for those one-week long horseback riding and overnight nature camps?

Students nowadays spend their summers researching at internships, taking classes at community colleges or attending SAT prep classes. For more and more students every year, summer is a time to get ahead. Where did our summer “break” go?

Through the years, academic competition has increased, motivating students to find more ways to pad their college applications. As spring arrives, teachers have already become bogged with requests for recommendation letters for summer activities.

While a small fraction of students truly enjoy the internships or classes they sign up for, the majority merely think to themselves how these new opportunities will look to admissions officers. For example, a sophomore may apply for an internship to study astronomy despite having no real interest in the science. Even if these students find their activities tedious or disheartening, they will attempt to struggle through.

As important as the SATs are during application time in senior year, preparing for it should not ruin an entire summer. High school life should not revolve around aiming for that 2,400 or crying if it is not achieved. Thirty years from now, hardly anyone will care or even remember that incorrect critical reading answer. Additionally, since colleges value normal school grades over the SAT, students should not always depend on the one test to determine their future successes.

With such academic activities, summer break becomes less fun, and each day stuck in a boring classroom or research center can be as dreaded as much as the normal school year is. This seems pointless as it defeats the purpose of summer. The break is intended as more than just a break from school, but a time to heal and recharge for the new year.

Students should utilize the time to relax, go on a vacation or just laze around. The stress load of a school year is strenuous enough without an additional rigorous workload over the summer. Of course, there are several weeks of breaks scattered throughout the school year, but is that really satisfactory? How many students honestly wish for those meager one or two weeks to end?

Swimmers can’t keep swimming with only a few breaths of air. They need to get out of the water and take a nice long break before diving back in. Likewise, students can’t keep working forever. They need time to relax before they re-enter the world of sleepless nights and constant studying.

Parents likewise should understand how their children’s worlds should not be focused on their academic summer activities or the colleges they decide to attend. Despite their high expectations, parents should not push students to do things for the sake of college applications.

As you develop your plans for the summer, be honest to yourself about how you want to spend those blue skied, sunny days—stuck in a stifling SAT prep class or relaxing on a warm, sandy beach?

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