Peter Davos, Founder and Managing Director at Hale Education Group Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: While summer is a great opportunity to demonstrate your continued commitment to your intellectual and extracurricular passions, it offers the perfect opportunity to venture beyond your comfort zone.

Don’t be afraid to study a subject that falls outside your curriculum or have not had the chance to explore, or to try something completely new – like volunteering to build homes for Habitat for Humanity!

The most valuable summer is one that allows a student to discover his or her interests in a new way, whether that is through a service trip abroad, a research programme, an online course, or volunteering opportunity.

For example, online courses allow students to experience college level courses and delve deeper in their academic endeavours. Coursera and Edx are two of the biggest open online course providers that offer free online courses taught by top universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Stanford. Courses include Harvard University’s CS50x: Introduction to Computer Science found in Edx and Stanford University’s Game Theory found in Coursera.

Moreover, volunteering opportunities allow students to explore their passions outside the classroom. Taking part of initiatives such as those offered by the Tender Hearts Autism Center or the Down the Line Winner tennis organization can offer students with fulfilling experiences to rediscover their interests.

At the end of the summer, students should evaluate their experience and ensure they are coming away with the most valuable outcome. They should ask: what have I learned, how have I grown, and how has this influenced the path I want to pursue in the future? It is advisable to keep a journal during the summer programme, so that students can easily reflect on the details of their day-to-day experiences after returning home.

Ultimately, the best summer programmes, academic or otherwise, would be ones where the student will develop a sense of intellectual curiosity and passion, regardless of what he is planning on studying at university. Not every student has the time or resources to complete a residential programme in the US. Taking a free online course, volunteering, training for an athletic competition, or even working would be other valuable ways for students to spend the summer productively.

The author is Founder and Managing Director at Hale Education Group