As a student, when you think of ‘summer’, the blue sky, lemonade and stress-free days come to mind. You neither have to wake up early in the morning to rush to school, nor wake up till late into the night to complete your homework. Summer is your own time, a time to unwind and rejuvenate.
Some of you may wake up in the morning with the intention of doing something new and productive but instead go to bed with Netflix. Although I’m all for the occasional Netflix binge day, whiling away the summer vacation is a definite no-no. Instead of watching the days fleeting past while sitting on the bed or lazying on the sofa, the days should be used for self-growth, to build your personality, cultivate hobbies and discover passions.
In today’s overly competitive world, having stellar grades doesn’t guarantee success. Universities have begun to look for balanced applications, and with acceptance rates going down significantly, any prospective applicant has to do everything possible to make their application stand out. Having an impressive summer activity to add to your application will not only boost your application but also help in self-development. Activities promoting teamwork, leadership and communication skills provide a platform for you to grow, not just intellectually but socially too.
Due to the abundance of opportunities now, you may find yourself at a crossroads struggling to find a programme that best suits your needs. A key step in finding the perfect activity is deciding what area you want to work in. For example, if you like reading or writing, you should look for an internship at a publishing house or a creative writing programme. If you like to play sports, you should look for a sports programme or play for a team. If you like journalism, find an internship at a national daily or attend a mass media programme. If you are passionate about giving back to the community, work with an NGO.
Volunteer work, internships, and summer programmes provide very different experiences. Volunteering provides a platform to work for the underprivileged and significantly promotes social and mental growth. At an internship, you gain experience working and interacting with people in a certain field. Your experiences teach you about the struggles of a certain profession as well as the tricks of the trade. You also tend to interact with fellow students who share your passions and spend your time learning topics usually not taught in school.
STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Antara Agrawal, a Std XI student of Delhi Public School, Pune, attended the Young Leaders for Active Citizenship Programme founded by Harvard and Oxford alumni. The programme aims to increase the participation of youth in democratic processes and builds their capacity to lead change. Sharing her experience, she says, “I have always been someone who is interested in getting involved with society, knowing my roles and responsibilities and working on them. This summer, I had decided to be productive, learn and develop skill sets that would help me in the future. Which is why I chose this programme.”
Besides, gathering knowledge about varied aspects of our society, what she learnt was how to think. “I was able to get a new perspective on politics, markets, and democracy,” she adds.
Attending a programme outside of her city also made her step out of her comfort zone. “I met a new bunch of like-minded people with whom I’ve developed a great rapport. And now, when I step out, I know I will see the world with a newly cleaned lens,” she adds.
KEEP ASKING QUESTIONS
Medha Arora, a Std XII student of Delhi Public School, Pune, who attended the Young Scholar’s Programme at Ashoka University, Haryana, shares that the intention of the programme was to introduce students to Liberal Arts education that the university offers. The programme structure was made of lectures which were conducted by the faculty, workshops and included various activities including sports. “I was interested in applying for it, to experience life at Ashoka in a glimpse and also to narrow it down to my top preferences of colleges,” says Arora.
Talking about how the course helped her, she says, “Socially, it made a great difference as the workshop and activities were very interactive and taught me how to communicate and get my point across.” Initially, she was apprehensive of undertaking the course, but once completed, she felt enriched. “My creativity and imagination were stimulated repeatedly during the programme which has helped me grow as an individual,” she adds.
However, the most important thing that she learnt was that there is a lot more to education than just textbooks and it is important to know how to think than what to think. To perceive the simplest of things differently and in a more innovative way, the key is to, “Ask questions because there is no end to exploring,” she concludes.