Every kid looks forward to the summer. Finally, a break from the pressures of school, a reprieve from intense sports, a solace with time that we can use to focus on ourselves. However, how teens have been spending their summer break has changed drastically in the last decade. Gen Z have been using their summers productively, taking on new projects in their free time to keep busy and utilize the summer months.
In the past, summer has been a time to simply kick back and relax, a period of time where you can recharge before heading back to school in September. Most of it is spent hanging out with friends, or catching up on sleep before the school year returns and we are forced to adapt to a nightly six hours of sleep. I remember spending my summers in India, taking advantage of my lack of responsibilities to lounge around and read for hours everyday– back when reading was less of a task than it has become with the additional burden of schoolwork. Starting in the summer before eighth grade, however, I started attending academic camps. I spent the first month of my summer at Johns Hopkins University, taking a college-level introductory course on linguistics. Though I loved the program, it was like attending school in the summer! I was shocked when I was told that many high-schoolers spent their summers like this, spending their breaks from school doing more school.
Gen Z, as the most powerful and determined generation yet, have spent their summers starting new organizations, attending career-furthering camps, interning, and more.
What sparked this seemingly sudden change in how we spend our free time? The unavoidable factor is the increasing competitivity in the process of college applications. Pre-college programs allow a student to experience what it would be like to attend a certain university before graduating highschool. These programs are meant to boost your transcript when you look into applying to the school.
I would like to think that Gen Z have started working harder during the summers for reasons other than college applications. As the generation that has been the most inspired to make change in the world, we have seen the summer as not a time to relax, but a time that we can dedicate to pursue our own passions. We are catalyzing change with our different approaches to this two-month break.
Statistics show that many young Americans lost their job opportunities and internships with the rise of the novel coronavirus. Plans they had for the summer were delayed, put online, or canceled altogether. Gen Z has been worried about not only the financial burden of this, but with the emotional toll that this summer will have on us. We have never had such a long period of time free of any extracurricular activities or other commitments. Teens have turned to artistic outlets of expression, channeling their creativity in music, journaling, dancing, and photography.
Summertime, for me, has become a time to improve myself. I have spent my time taking online courses in subject areas I would like to study in college. I make the most of my free time because I know when school starts my schedule will be packed with crew practice and homework!
Diya Tekriwal is an 11th grade student at Ransom Everglades school in Miami, Florida. She is new to Miami, having just moved from Long Island, New York. As an Indian-American girl who has recently experienced a huge culture shock, she thinks that her perspective will be an uncommon one. Diya is honored to be a part of the amazing platform that is the Gen Z Identity Lab and is looking forward to engaging in discourse with her peers. She is excited to have a platform where she can share her own experiences and find people that share similar interests and viewpoints as her. Outside of Gen Z, Diya is a coxswain for her school’s rowing team and an avid reader. Diya believes that with the resources that Gen Z have available, they can truly make a difference, and she wants to start here!