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  • Carmen Boixo, Samantha Kwock, Brittany Tran, and Wilson Yeh

School's Out! What to Make of Your Summer as a High School Student

As summer break approaches, many of you may find yourselves wondering how to most productively make use of your newly gained free time outside of the classroom.

Should you get a job? Volunteer? Take summer classes?

We understand that not everything is black and white. There’s no set path on how to get accepted into college and pursue the career of your choice. As such, four UCLA students who were once in your shoes will share their experiences over the summer to offer you some perspective and ideas on what you could possibly do!

Wilson is a fourth-year Psychobiology major and on the pre-med track.

When I was in high school, I actually never enrolled in summer classes my entire four years! However, I still found myself involved in various extracurricular activities. I was a volunteer at a Saturday school for individuals with developmental disabilities where I would spend five hours each week leading fun activities and creating an engaging environment for the students to take part in. Beyond our regular Saturday sessions, the program also had an annual summer camp that I would serve at each year. Though I’ll admit it wasn’t always easy, the experience I gained from working with special needs individuals during high school was truly rewarding. Even after I stopped volunteering to go to college, I found myself visiting the students on Saturdays whenever I was home from school on the weekends. I was and still remain extremely grateful for the opportunity, which helped to shape a lot of the decisions I would make after high school and even today!

Samantha is a third-year Physiological Sciences major and Asian American Studies minor on the pre-med track.

Before attending school at UCLA, I worked as a ropes course facilitator for two summers. While my job was not directly related to healthcare, I got to learn new leadership styles, improve my teamwork abilities, and learn new skills such as belaying. In addition to working outdoors and leading group activities, I also got to intern in the office and learn more about how non-profit organizations are run behind the scenes. Finding a job that you enjoy is a great option to earn money, meet new people, and develop personally over the summer!

Brittany is a second-year Physiological Sciences major on the pre-med track.

While I was in high school, I was a hospital volunteer at Regional Medical Center and attended a cardiothoracic surgery summer program at Stanford University. Throughout my summer experiences, I had the opportunity to directly serve patients, assist healthcare workers with their daily responsibilities, and learn more about the healthcare industry as a whole. These valuable experiences allowed me to develop my professional skills, explore science, and serve my community in a rewarding, enjoyable way.

Carmen is a second-year Bioengineering major and French minor on the pre-med track.

During my summers in high school, I attended summer school, did research, or travelled with my family and took some time to relax. Summer school allowed me to experience a faster-paced classroom environment, preparing me for the rigors of college. It also allowed me to get ahead in my classes and take more courses that interested me, such as Anatomy and Physiology. Taking summer school demonstrates to universities that you are a student who really enjoys learning and goes above-and-beyond in your academic endeavors. The most valuable summer experience I had was doing research with a PhD student. I learned so much during that summer not only about the research project, but also about how to conduct myself in a professional environment, how to write a research paper, and how to approach a novel project. Additionally, I was able to write about this experience in my college applications, which I feel definitely helped me to gain admittance into some of my top schools. However, I also took a lot of time during the summers to relax and spend time with friends and family, and during two of my summers I didn't do anything “resume worthy,” so you definitely shouldn’t feel any pressure to be super productive during your summers.

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