An Academic Summer Break?


Bori Chung, Assistant Managing Editor

At the end of June, BCA students have two months of summer break until early September. During this time, many students travel, catch up on sleep, and spend time with family and friends. However, now, more and more BCA students are using summer break to prepare themselves for the next school year or do something academic to build onto their resume. When the school year is already academically rigorous, what do BCA students think about an academically focused summer break?

Over the summer, students use their free time to relax and destress after a tough school year. For example, Josh, an AEDT junior, says, “My ideal summer break is generally staying at home, chilling, and going on vacation for a week. I like to stay home a lot and sleep since I can’t really do that during the school year.” 

Additionally, Cadee, an AVPA junior, says, “[Although] it’s different every summer, my family always has some sort of vacation planned. Recently, we haven’t been able to travel anywhere far because of COVID-19, but we went on a lot of road trips together. And of course, I have so much more time to meet up with friends and practice.”

However, at the same time, these students are also participating in summer programs and doing research. “Last year, I did the BCA Summer Research Program, BCA Music Summer Camp, and I interned in one of the classes from Academy After Hours,” says Cadee. “I did the summer research program at BCA last summer with Mrs. Waldron, where she taught us the basics of cell culture and we got to try growing our own HepG2 cells… It taught me a lot of basic lab skills that became useful when I started my own research project and it gave a great overview of what’s involved in testing and collecting data from cells.”

Divyash, an AMST junior, also spent his summer doing research. “I spent my past summer break doing research for a few weeks and going on vacation. I did research over the summer because COVID-19 prevented me from doing it during the school year, so I wanted to make it up over the summer.”

These summer programs are not limited to only academics. For instance, several BCA students also participate in music summer programs. “Last summer I competed in a concerto competition, which was thankfully live. [And in] August, I participated in the Kitakaruizawa Music Seminar,” says Cadee. “This year, I’ll be going on tour with the National Youth Orchestra–NYO-USA–in Europe. As of now, they are planning to go to Amsterdam, Berlin, and Lucerne so that will take up about a month of my summer. For the past couple years all of these programs were virtual due to COVID-19, but it seems like some are starting to open up again, so I’m hopeful that the tour will happen this summer.”

Many BCA students also study for college standardized tests over the summer. With their schedules packed during the school year, students take advantage of the summer to take the SATs or ACTs. “During the summer going into sophomore grade, I studied for SAT IIs,” says Chris, an AEDT junior. “And in the summer going into junior year, I went to SAT prep for five days a week for four hours each day. It was extremely stressful since I got homework everyday, but I think it was worth it. Also, I know a bunch of friends who have been studying for these tests really hard and getting high scores, so going into the summer, I felt some pressure to also work hard and do well.”

Josh also went to SAT prep last summer. “Last summer I was studying for the SAT–which I took in August. My prep classes were on Mondays through Fridays, from nine in the morning to one in the afternoon. It was definitely not how I wanted to spend my time and summer, but I still did it because I wanted a good score and also because of peer pressure.”

Both Josh and Chris mention the influence of peer pressure when it comes to deciding what to do during the summer. “Because a lot of BCA students want to continue to do well academically, they spend their summers doing all these crazy academic activities,” says Josh. “And so, that ends up making me feel like I need to do something too. And since BCA students generally are already focused academically, you realize that you can’t just spend your summers doing nothing. You have to do work during the summer or else you will fall behind.”

Chris adds, “Peer pressure definitely has to do with me attending these summer programs. As rising seniors, many of my classmates are going to college prep. This means that if I don’t do the same, then they will have that edge over me. So there’s definitely a certain level of peer pressure to also do the same and keep working hard even during summer vacation.”

And while peer pressure can play a role when deciding what to do over the summer, many BCA students are also driven by their own self interests. “For both this upcoming summer and last summer, I did and will be doing academic things, but I don’t think peer pressure plays a big role in it,” says Cadee. “Everything I did was because of my own interests, not necessarily from peer pressure. And while my summer might sound like a lot, I still got to sleep in, meet up with friends, and do things that I normally don’t have time for during the school year. ”

Essentially, while the summer is busy for many students, it is still not as stressful as the school year. “The summer is definitely less stressful than the school year just because I just have a lot more time,” says Cadee. “During the school year, I feel like I never have enough time for anything and there’s no day when I can just sleep in and relax. But during the summer, I have the luxury of taking a break or sleeping in, and I have time to meet up with friends or do other things that I enjoy. Even though this summer will be stressful with college applications, I don’t think it can be compared to the stress that I feel during the school year.”

Chris agrees. “I still really enjoy summer vacation. I can sleep in and go on vacation. Plus, I don’t have to worry about any assignments while I might go out and play basketball at the park with my friends.”

Ultimately, BCA students are using summer breaks as an opportunity to do more academically. And while this can be intimidating and pressuring, it is still important to use these breaks as a time to destress, relax, and refresh oneself!


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