Launch Global Education
Sparks blog: Not sure what to do this summer? 

Take a course!

Mr. Michael Wagner

It is the time of year when a student’s excitement level grows to a crescendo like no other—finally, school is out! All the hard work--countless days, nights, and weekends—which were dedicated to assignments, group projects, presentations, studying for exams, and essay after essay after essay, finally comes to an end.

You have earned a well-deserved break!  Allowing your brain to stop, you can now look forward to sleeping in, taking it easy, and applying yourself to the art of doing nothing but being a teenager.


The pathway to a successful college application process includes demonstrating not just what you can do during the school year, but how you can connect your school breaks to your academic life. To show universities and colleges your desire for personal growth, you must continue to seek enrichment, be an entrepreneurial thinker, and be a lifelong learner.

This is what college admissions departments will ask: What do you do when you are out of school? What do you do with your free time? How do you expand your knowledge? How do you give back to your community?

Plain and simple, colleges and universities are looking for students who take every opportunity to improve themselves. They believe that if a student has this programmed into their DNA, they will bring this skill set to the university, which makes the university better as a whole. They seek positive role models and contributing members of the university’s community life. That is what they are looking for in you.

So, how should you go about doing it?

There are countless ways for students to find or create out-of-school time activities during the summer. Activities such as getting a part-time job, volunteering, or attending a pre-college summer program are just a few approaches to building your college resume. However, I am going to suggest one that you can do from the comfort of your own home.  By no means am I implying that this is the only activity you should do during your summer break! But it can be a terrific one that can also be enjoyable for you.

student on laptop

Credentialing and certification classes

There is an abundance of courses you can take, but for simplicity, I am going to focus on two approaches: personal skills building and future interests exploration. No matter what you choose, you should have one rule to follow. When you are selecting a course, make sure it is an activity you are interested in and will enjoy.

Remember, this is an activity you do during a break. You can take a course during other school breaks as well. I believe that kids deserve a short respite from the daily rigors of organized and structured learning. But at the same time, summer is the perfect time for you to take a different approach to learning, one that will meet your interests while at the same time will show a university that you are an entrepreneurial learner.

Skills improvement classes

There are terrific, often free, online learning classes that can help you improve many personal skills. Public speaking is a good example.

Everyone can agree that speaking in public, no matter if you like it or not, can be a little intimidating. However, I believe it is one of the most important personal skills one can work to improve. You will find a variety of different titles, but normally I recommend courses such as Introduction to Public Speaking, Beginning Public Speaking, or Communication Skills. The goal of the class will be for students to develop skills to improve their public speaking and acquire techniques to build confidence.

The other area I advise students to explore is a basic computer technology skills program, such as a Microsoft Office applications course. There are a lot of benefits to mastering the skills of Microsoft or Google or Creative Cloud programs that a student will not only use during high school and college but in their subsequent careers.

student presenting

Future interests classes

Explore a specific subject matter or career interest that you would like to know more about. While you may touch upon aspects of a career in your high school studies, taking an online class will allow you to delve more deeply into the specifics of a career. You may find that the course confirms your interest, or just as important, you may realize that college major and career focus just isn’t for you.  Either way, you will be able to talk about that experience in your college essays and interviews, and it will help you feel more confident about your choices.  

One additional suggestion

If it is hard to decide what type of class to enroll in or if you just want to take a class that is highly recommended for everyone, take a basic computer programming class. It is one of the most highly sought skills today.

I suggest taking an Introduction to Coding class, an entry-level course to familiarize yourself with the basics of computer programming. If you are already familiar with basic computer coding, then take an introductory language class, such as Python, Java, C#, or JavaScript. With the current emphasis on possessing digital skills, this is a great way to learn something new while exhibiting that you enjoy expanding your knowledge and that you are willing to step out of your comfort zone.

I hope this helps start the thought process, but of course, if you have additional ideas that connect to your future plans – GO FOR IT! The true focus of your summer should be to be an entrepreneurial thinker, practicing lifelong learning.

Good luck this summer and don’t forget—enjoy your time off and make sure you have fun.

Mr. Michael J. Wagner

Michael Wagner, MAED is a founder and the Knowledge Pilot for Launch Education.  Mr. Mike has assisted hundreds of students around the world on their college pathways