With the school year coming to a close I thought it would be useful to discuss how best to think about summer break. In talking about this, it is important to keep in mind that my advice is for both those who will still be in college next academic year and incoming students.
I feel that the end of the academic year is a time to recharge. All those weeks of hard work have probably left you tired and in need of some much needed downtime. There is nothing wrong with just hanging out and getting yourself back to normal, at least during a part of the summer. For some of you, those initial days home will bring some much-needed sleep and a lot of good times with family and friends. Think of this aspect of summer break as a reward for a job well done. You made it through the school year and you are to be rewarded for all your efforts. Hopefully, your grades will reflect how hard you worked.
I hope your time relaxing will include a few good books. As always, there is nothing like reading to calm you down and get your mind thinking about the world in new and exciting ways. In addition, all that reading will have residual benefits of improving your vocabulary, writing and thinking. In addition, what you read may even be related to what you are studying in school. The way I think about it, a good book goes a long way to a more relaxed person.
I understand that the summer is a time to refresh, but summer break is also a time to get things accomplished and to think ahead. One thing you might want to do is get a job during the summer months. It is likely that you can use the cash not only to do things during the summer or buy something you need, but it can also help you out with things you will need when school starts (e.g., textbooks). Also, if you can get a job related to your ultimate career plans that would be great–there is nothing like gaining experience in the workplace.
As far as thinking ahead, you might wonder what there is to prepare for, but it doesn’t take long to think of a list of things you probably need to do during the summer to ready for the next school year. I am not saying you should do all of these things right away, but at some point during the summer there are various tasks that you should try your best to get done. Here are a few:
1) visit your doctor and dentist
2) volunteer with some group, organization, or research lab—it will be great if this is related to your ultimate career goals
3) make contact with faculty who you might want to work with doing research when school begins
4) get your head together about career planning by checking out websites that offer information on various careers (e.g., careersinpsych.com if you are a Psychology major)—if you are a student getting ready to apply to graduate or professional school, start pulling application material together
5) continue to work on your resume
6) get an internship—these are great when they pay, but even if unpaid an internship gives you important practical experience
7) although it may cause you some “mental pain”, take some time to go over certain subject material that you will need to deal with when school starts
8) carefully read anything sent to you from your school, and respond immediately to any requests for information
Students who are ready to start college for the first time have other things they need to consider doing during the summer. These include:
1) learn about the college town where you will be living if it will be new to you
2) start buying the things you will need for school—you don’t have to buy everything, because some things you will only learn that you need once you are on campus
3) create a LinkedIn account to help your professional career and to keep in connect with professors and other students
4) attend your college orientation, where you will register for classes and here more about life at your new school
5) if you are going to live away from home: (a) generate a packing list; (b) contact your roommate; and (c) investigate job opportunities if you need to work
6) consider attending a pre-orientation event where you can meet other incoming freshmen and faculty
7) check with the Financial Aid Office to confirm any aid you expect to receive
8) find out about the computer situation at your new school (e.g., what computer resources are available)
9) plan a budget
10) make your travel plans for arriving on campus, including how you will get all your things to campus
In closing, just remember that the summer should be a time for you to enjoy. The school year will be here before you know it. Take full advantage of this time off and be ready to go once school begins!