What Have You Been Up To?: Summer 2023 Survey Results

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Issue 1, Volume 114

By The Features Department 

As students and faculty dust off the sandy remains of summer and open their bleary eyes to the new school year, they are filing away the summer of 2023 into their long-term memories. What did they do to occupy those hours away from school? Let’s find out.

Enjoyment / Productivity

As a whole, Stuyvesant students tended to have a pleasant, if not exceptional, summer break. As for productivity, students were largely as productive as they initially anticipated, though there was more variation than with enjoyment. In this survey, productivity was defined as the extent to which you completed the goals that you had in mind. Thus, one’s measure of productivity depends largely on the feasibility of their own expectations. Interestingly enough, there was only a low correlation between enjoyment and productivity, and the average enjoyment level for each grade level was quite similar.


Great job, Stuyvesant! The vast majority of students accomplished at least one goal over the summer. For those that didn’t, and for those who didn’t have any goals, know that it’s perfectly okay to spend the summer prioritizing rest and relaxation. Some common goals students achieved were writing supplemental essays for colleges, studying for the SAT and upcoming classes, learning a new subject (such as medicine, politics, or a foreign language), improving physical health, earning money, working on creative projects, and developing their social lives. 


Wow, Stuyvesant students participated in quite a variety of activities over the summer! The majority of students made time for their family and friends, as well as relaxation. Around half of students traveled, exercised, or managed family obligations. As for more formal summer programs, the most popular choice was volunteering, followed by work, academic programs, internships, summer camp, and lastly, college classes. Over a quarter of students dedicated time to college applications and studying for future courses or standardized exams. 


Unfortunately, summer was not all fun in the sun. Students cited college applications and essays, SAT/ACT preparation, summer homework, and family conflicts as major stressors. Incoming freshmen especially detailed their concerns about the transition to high school and making new friends. Interestingly, many students considered the pressure they felt to be productive, believing that their peers were all doing much more than them.

  • “SAT prep has definitely stressed me out this summer because I am a rising junior and I am taking the SAT in October (doing it early on purpose). On the bright side, I’m working on improving over the summer and getting it over with so that I don’t have to juggle SAT prep and Stuyvesant at the same time, as that would be far worse.”
  • “It was daunting beginning the college application process and drafting essays over the summer. However, I also found the experience empowering because it gave me time to reflect on the person I’ve become and made me realize that I’m super proud of all my accomplishments.”
  • “There is definitely pressure to prepare for what lies ahead. If you don’t do something productive, it feels as though you’re wasting time. Personally, having a goal to achieve throughout the summer keeps me sane.”
  • “I’ve been waiting years to go back home to the Philippines, but I can’t help but be terrified about college applications and wonder whether or not this vacation is setting me back. I know I should just enjoy the break, but seeing all my friends prep for the SAT, work in internships in labs or for colleges, attend summer programs, volunteer, and be productive makes me feel as if I am falling behind. This vacation is incredible, but I’m still preoccupied with concerns for my future.”
  • “[I have] nerves about not being good enough, and therefore [I’m] feeling guilty that I’m not being academically/college-oriented productive whenever I have spare time.”
  • “It all seems so far away so not yet. I’ll worry about it when September starts.”
  • “I found myself trying to use every experience I had to possibly enrich my college application, more specifically the personal statement. [On top of that], a lot of times when I go out I feel a sense of guilt for not working on my applications because I don't want to have the regret of not working hard enough on them.”
  • “[I had an] absurd amount of DeltaMath homework, Japanese homework, and my parents forcing me to [study the] Algebra 2 textbook.”
  • “SAT prep consumed a lot of my time and I kept dreaming that the program office gave me nonexistent classes instead of the ones for which I applied.”
  • “Studying for the SAT in the fall definitely kept me stressed in the back of my mind. I also took multiple academic programs and a job at once in some parts of the summer, plus did a lot of volunteering—which was a bit hard to keep up with at times. I also found it stressful when AP Computer Science gave a random assignment in the middle of August, and I'm just really nervous about junior year in general [because] I heard it [is] tough.”
  • “The thought of transitioning to high school has made me feel kind of nervous but excited at the same time.”
  • “The expectations I had for myself this summer were way too high and I got stressed [from] not being able to fulfill them despite not even having a plan.”


Over the summer, Stuyvesant students made many core memories; some they look back on with a smile, others with a grimace.

Happy Times

  • “Going to the beach with my two dogs and watching the older one help the younger one overcome his fear of the water.”
  • “Went with two of my closest friends to the Brooklyn Museum. It was so lovely. Also, [I] emailed my favorite teacher!”
  • “Going on random car drives through my neighborhood.”
  • “I went on a picnic with my friends.”
  • “Beaches in Barcelona!”
  • “Strolling the streets of Athens with my friend and returning home at midnight.”
  • “Everything! Being with my family in the Philippines, going exploring, meeting little animals like tarsiers and the stray dogs and cats on the street.”
  • “Visiting my best friend in Belgium.”
  • “​​Seeing a dead body at my dream college! (At a cadaver lab, of course.)”
  • “I had a group interview at the Brooklyn Museum for a fall internship. In particular, we got to explore the Africa Fashion exhibit (for free) and worked in groups to design an art project. Then, we had a traditional interview and ended with a skill share-out. I met awesome people and, besides getting the job, it was a very fun experience.”
  • “My favorite memory is having late night conversations with my family and friends in Myrtle Beach.”
  • “Watching Fiddler on the Roof at 4:00 a.m.”
  • “Spending Sunday afternoons at Washington Square Park with my friends.”
  • “When I hung out with my friends at Atlantic Terminal Mall.”
  • “Petting my cat.”
  • “Standing under the fresco of Adam and God in the Sistine Chapel.”
  • “Stargazing at camp.”
  • “At sleepaway camp, we went on a four-day, 80-mile biking trip, and on the last day we biked into camp and jumped in the pool fully clothed, shoes and helmets included. That sense of achievement felt incredible and it was one of the best moments of my life.”
  • “Watching the new season of Heartstopper with friends.”

Less Happy Times

  • “[The] toll on mental health from two jobs; it gets to be really exhausting. I never expected how lonely it would get, as I’m used to seeing my friends all day, every day and socializing non-stop during the school day. However, while working, I would hang out with friends all day on weekends but rarely during the work week.”
  • “Record high temperatures. Global warming is not cool (literally).”
  • “Oh, like, all of it?”
  • “Not really a memory but dealing with my younger sister. She goes out of her way to make my time worse even though I don’t provoke her or anything like that.”
  • “I stepped on a giant sea urchin with these really long spikes. It didn’t hurt that bad, but it was annoying.”
  • “Waking up at 4:00 A.M. to get to the hospital I was volunteering at around 6:00 A.M.”
  • “Taking care of sick family.”
  • “Making my college list spreadsheet.”
  • “Taking daily practice tests.”
  • “When I got beaten at basketball by a seventh grader at the local park.”
  • “Trying to reason with my parents about the college process.”
  • “Riding in the stuffiest subway car ever.”
  • “Cockroach infestation.”
  • “Summer math homework.”
  • “I had the three-in-one combo of cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea two days before my birthday.”
  • “My existential crisis at 4:00 a.m. about my hopeless future.”
  • “When I was upset at one of my best friends (we’re good now).”
  • “Stressing about school supplies.”
  • “Suddenly getting eczema.”
  • “Getting in fights with my parents and being the oldest child and having that pressure.”
  • “My least favorite memory is when my friend got sick at a boardwalk.”
  • “Being bored.”

Top Travel Destinations

  • In the U.S.
  • California 
  • New Jersey 
  • Pennsylvania
  • Massachusetts
  • Virginia
  • North Carolina
  • Florida

  • Internationally
  • Italy
  • France
  • Spain
  • Belgium
  • Greece
  • The Bahamas
  • Mexico

Summer Playlist

  • Songs
  • “Seek and Destroy” - SZA
  • “Princess Diana” - Ice Spice and Nicki Minaj
  • “Dream Song” - Samia
  • “La Bicicleta” - Carlos Vives and Shakira
  • “N96” - Kendrick Lamar

  • Artists / Bands
  • Taylor Swift
  • New Jeans
  • Noah Kahan
  • Mother Mother
  • Lil Uzi Vert

What’s Streaming?

  • Movies
  • Barbie
  • Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
  • Oppenheimer
  • Red, White, and Royal Blue
  • Nimona

  • Shows
  • Heartstopper 
  • Suits
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty 
  • Sex Education 
  • The Legend of Luo Xiaohei

On the Bookshelf

  • Books
  • A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
  • Sapiens by Yuval Harari
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Trois by Valerie Perrin
  • Frankly in Love by David Yoon

  • Authors
  • Albert Camus
  • John Steinbeck
  • Jenny Han
  • Leo Tolstoy
  • Colleen Hoover