Summer 2022 Advice Column: Strategies for Maximizing Your Summer Time

The Copy Chiefs and an Editor-in-Chief of ‘The Science Survey’ are here to answer your questions about staying productive over the summer, along with some general tips as well.


Rahm Rodkey

Five Copy Chiefs and one Editor-in-Chief of ‘The Science Survey,’ who wrote this column, pose for a photo. From left to right, top to bottom are Maggie Schneider ’22, Josephine Kinlan ’22, Alexandra Zwiebel ’22, Ellora Klein ’22, Nicole Zhou ’23 and Aissata Barry ’22 (Not pictured: Otho Valentino Sella ’23).

Hi Bronx Science!

We, the Copy Chiefs and one Editor-in-Chief of The Science Survey, believe that congratulations are in order. It has been…quite the year, due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, and through it all, our student body continued working hard and being the best roller coaster riders this school has ever seen. 

Now that we’re in the beginning weeks of our summer vacation time, we thought we would use some of this Advice Column to discuss the summer. While we are all looking forward to some well-deserved rest and relaxation during this time, we also know there are many who want to spend their time over the summer in a productive way. We hope that we can provide those who do with some ideas for how to get started being summer scholars, and those who don’t, our usual school and life-related words of wisdom. 

Have a wonderful break, Bronx Science, and we wish you all the best for the next academic year!

With love,

Maggie Schneider ’22 (she/her), Josephine Kinlan ’22 (she/her), Aissata Barry ’22 (she/her), Nicole Zhou ’23 (she/her), Otho Valentino Sella ’23 (he/him), Alexandra Zwiebel ’22 (she/her), Ellora Klein ’22 (she/her)

What are some summer activities that students can do to get on the right path for their career or towards something that they want to pursue in the future?

This is a great question! As Bronx Science students, we are always looking for ways to advance our knowledge, and a summer extracurricular is a great way to do so. An important first step would be to establish what you want to pursue and possible workplaces that offer opportunities to high school students. This could include a lab, an office, etc. The next step would be to get in touch with professionals in your field of interest, simply through e-mailing or even calling! Another way to explore jobs in your field of interest is to talk to teachers at Bronx Science and see if they can help you find the right place to work or volunteer.

However, when students seek out summer jobs, they often tend to care more about how it will look on a résumé or to college admissions, rather than the actual work experience that the job will give them. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you are working to gain experience, not just for the optics on your résumé . A lot of the time internships and even summer courses that are not necessarily jobs will help with this, especially because they equip students with in-depth knowledge about the career path they choose to follow.

– Alexandra Zwiebel ’22

How do I deal with classmates who are less than serious or respectful?

Good question! Dealing with disrespectful people is a natural part of life, and you are bound to encounter others like them in the future. Disrespect can come in many forms like talking over you, using your materials without asking, and making demeaning comments. 

Depending on the circumstances, it may be a good idea to talk to the person. Sometimes, the other party may be unaware of your discomfort. If you are anything like me, confrontation is a hard skill to practice, but boundaries are the framework of a healthy relationship. I’ve often heard that good friends fight a lot because both parties become aware of what makes the other “tick.” I’m not encouraging you to fight with your classmate, but don’t keep your anger in your head. In a polite, assertive manner, explain what bothers you.

However, if the person continues to disrespect your boundaries even after you lay them out, limit your contact with the person. Part of growing up is realizing that we can’t be friends with everyone we meet. It would be nice if we liked all 3,000 students in our school, but that is unrealistic. When making seating arrangements, most teachers will be happy to accommodate you if you make them aware of your situation. 

Throughout all this, it is important to remain respectful. “Treat everyone with politeness and kindness, not because they are nice, but because you are,” said Roy T. Bennett in his book The Light in the Heart. It’s a good quote to keep in mind. Of course, if the disrespect becomes abusive, like verbal insults or bullying, inform a trusted adult at Bronx Science (teachers, Assistant Principals, deans, or your guidance counselor). 

The bottomline is this: Respect and disrespect are two sides of the same coin. They are both free but not without consequences. The person’s behavior will catch up to them sooner or later. 

Build a strong support system. Surround yourself with positive influences. Negative energy is a disease that can spread quickly if one is not careful. It’s pointless to sacrifice our peace of mind on one person, so find fun people who will reaffirm your worth. 

– Nicole Zhou ’23

Where can I look for summer internships/opportunities to participate in over the summer?

I’ll start with the most obvious answer: Google. You can find tons of cool programs just by looking online! Make sure to do your research early on, though — I found many of the programs I was interested in had deadlines that I had already missed, because I researched them too late. Look up keywords surrounding the field you’re interested in, along with “summer internship/program” and “high school students.”

SYEP, the Summer Youth Employment Program, is also a great resource to use when finding internships and other summer opportunities. SYEP connects New York City students with paid work experiences and opportunities to explore different careers, depending on your application. However, you should also note that SYEP is a lottery, and not a sure thing in terms of landing a job. 

A final way to find internships/programs for the summer is through speaking with people you know. I found super interesting opportunities for both the summer and the school year simply by asking my teachers, guidance counselors, parents, and family friends if they knew of any programs/internships related to my interests. Your teachers and guidance counselors in particular are there to help you and would be happy to recommend programs (the guidance department even sends out e-mails with opportunities for the summer). 

It’s also helpful to ask these people if they know of anyone working in your field of interest that they can put you in touch with. By contacting people with careers to which you aspire, you can find opportunities and people to work with that you wouldn’t be able to find through research. They may even suggest you shadow/intern for them or someone they know. I did this in the summer with a family friend working in architecture. By asking him if he knew of any opportunities in the field, I was able to shadow him at his studio, work on projects, and accompany him to sites, gaining valuable experience.

– Ellora Klein ’22

How do we truly enjoy ourselves when we are given free time/break without worrying about responsibilities for school and other parts of our lives?

Great question! I know it often feels like school and the responsibilities that come with it can cast a long shadow over breaks and weekends, but I think there are some tangible things you can do to enjoy yourself without feeling like you’re neglecting your work. 

First, make a list! It’s easy for students (especially at Bronx Science) to feel so overwhelmed by the prospect of a large workload that they shut down and forget to manage their time. Making a list of all the things that are weighing on you is the best way to feel in control of the situation, and it can go a long way toward easing your mind so you can have fun.

Once you’ve done that, it’s good to unplug yourself from school as much as possible. Turn off Google Classroom and Gmail notifications on your phone for as long as you want to relax so you aren’t constantly reminded of all the work that awaits you.

For longer breaks, plan activities you want to do that would be fun and relaxing, but could also distract you from thinking about school too much. Make another list, this time of movies you want to watch, books you want to read, or places you want to go, and start ticking things off in your free time. 

It’s also crucial not to isolate yourself from your friends and family. Make sure to talk with the people in your life about things other than school and communicate with them that you’re trying to take a few days to relax. Frequently as students, we only interact with our friends in a stressful school environment, and seeing them outside of that context can be a refreshing change of pace.

This is a real issue at Bronx Science, and if you ever feel like “stressed out” has become your default setting, don’t hesitate to reach out to your friends and family or a member of the guidance department for more help handling the pressure of being a high school student.

– Otho Valentino Sella ’23

As a ninth grader or a sophomore, I have never experienced the end of the school year in-person. How should I spend the last months of the year in school?

One of the good, and bad, things about the Bronx Science calendar (or the New York City Department of Education high school calendar, which is what ours is based off of) is that you’re most likely going to have exams right up until the end of the year. Ninth graders and sophomores have Regents, AP exams are in May, and everyone will have finals sometime in June. 

With that being said, however, most teachers will relax the amount of work that they give around this time of year. You will have fewer, if any, regular tests and little new material to learn. Sports and clubs wrap up in late May/early June as well, meaning that you will probably have more free time on your hands than you did in, say, December. 

One of the best things you can do with the extra time is to work on planning your summer. Even if that means figuring out a part of the city you want to explore or friends you want to see, having an idea of how you’re going to spend those few months will make the time more enjoyable and productive when you have it. You probably have an internship or research lined up, but you should also think of activities you want to do for yourself and not just for colleges.

I would also say to take advantage of all the less-productive but more-enjoyable parts of school in May and June. For example, Dynamo (Bronx Science’s literary magazine) has a tradition of holding outdoor meetings when the weather is nice, and during free periods, I’ll always sit in the courtyard with an iced drink and a muffin. These are not the grandest of endeavors, but they’re a way of savoring parts of being at Bronx Science.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, you should take solace in the fact that you’ve worked hard for the past ten months of the academic year, and let yourself rest accordingly. 

– Maggie Schneider ’22

How does one go about asking teachers to correct grades, whether it be for homework or tests?

Be upfront, but respectful! Teachers have a lot of tasks on their hands, most of which we do not see them doing in the classroom – sometimes a mistake in grading, or a missed assignment gets by their attention. 

You could e-mail your teacher with the assignment name and correct grade, but your best bet is to talk to them in person. That could be after class, or during their SGI period. Make sure that you have the name of the assignment that was incorrectly graded ready – this could mean having your PupilPath up on your device, opened to that specific assignment. If you happen to have proof of that assignment’s grade, have that handy too!

Explain to your teacher that you believe one of your assignments has been mis-graded in PupilPath, and show them if necessary. It can be an awkward situation, but the objective is getting in the correct grade. Neither the teacher nor you should come away with any hard feelings. 

– Josephine Kinlan ’22 (she/her)

What are some things to look forward to in senior year, and what preparations should I make now or during summer to make my senior year less stressful?

During the summer before senior year, I recommend that you finish drafting your common app essay. Experiment with different questions, and take a moment to reflect on your character and what matters to you. If you have a finished essay when school starts in September, you can get advice on it from your peers, your English teacher, and your guidance counselor. 

You should also begin building your college list. Take the time to research your prospective colleges by looking at their faculty, watching videos on YouTube from current students, or even reaching out to current students and recent alums and listening to their honest opinions. Sometimes in the midst of that research, you’ll discover that you no longer want to apply to a school or you love a school so much you decide to apply early decision. Try to figure out what you want from your college experience. What is your ideal school size? Do you want to be in a suburban or urban area? Do you like the idea of a core curriculum or a more open one? 

As for your senior year experience, the Senior Council plans wonderful events. My favorite was the Bronxtoberfest in October which featured donuts, mask making, and a scavenger hunt. 

Senior year was sincerely my favorite year of high school. Many of my friends and I felt a new wave of confidence and fearlessness that we didn’t have as first years or even as juniors. We became less afraid to raise our hands to answer difficult questions or start random conversations with people we had never seen before. 

What I loved most about my senior year was meeting new people, some of whom became my closest friends. It can be hard to visualize but there are around 750 students in your grade. You still have so many people to laugh with and learn from, and senior year is your last chance to do so during your high school career.

– Aissata Barry ’22