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Summer in university can seem like a lot to handle sometimes. You’re coming straight out of months of school, studying, and exams, and all of a sudden you don’t have to do… any of that anymore. Maybe you already have summer plans or a summer job, but even that is very different from the rest of the school year.

With all this free time you have, it can certainly be overwhelming figuring out what to do with it all and from what I’ve seen, having nothing to do can be stressful in its own way. Another problem students in university face during summers is that it’s such a long period between terms and if you spend your summer forgetting about class and doing nothing, you’ll make it much harder for yourself to get back into the swing of things when school finally comes around again. With this in mind, summer is a great time to seek out ways to learn and grow as a person, and even build your resume.

Review your semester

I know this is … probably the last thing you want to do once your school term is finished, but it’s also a good idea to do. Once your classes are all done, take a moment to evaluate how you did in all of them. Whether or not you learned as much as you wanted to, did as well as you think you could’ve, or if there was anything throughout the year that you think you did particularly well or that you think you could do better.

It’s important not to dwell on the negatives, so definitely focus on the things you feel proud of, but also use this time to figure out ways you can improve as a student before you come back to school again.

Something I like to think about is how the goal in university should be to learn new things, not just to get good marks. Your marks are a consequence of what you’ve learned (and not the other way around). So this is also a great time to try to figure out how you learn best.

This review of your semester doesn’t have to be purely academic either. For many, university takes them to a new city and a whole new group of people, so reflect back on the things outside of class you did (or didn’t) do as well. Did you explore your city and visit somewhere new? Did you meet new and fun people? Did you get involved anywhere on campus?

Once again, don’t dwell on the negatives. Maybe you didn’t do as much as you wanted to or as much as you think you should have, but you did what was right for you at the time. Use this reflection to think of more ways you can make the most of your time at university when you come back for the next semester.

Keep your brain active

As I’ve said before, summer comes with free time. Lots of it. And as such, summer is a great time to catch up on all the things you wanted to do during the school year, but never had time to. Is there a show you like that you’re behind on? Is there a book you’ve been meaning to read? A video game you want to play? A podcast you’ve been wanting to listen to?

However, as much as you may just want to do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it, it’s also really important to keep learning and keep your brain active so you’re ready when you go back to school.

Check out what classes your going to be taking next semester, and consider learning a bit about them. Or review the parts of your previous semester that you found interesting or struggled with. Consider learning more about something that interested you, whether it’s completely relevant to your school work or not. You’re not in school, so you don’t need to do things to stress yourself out, but try to find ways you can learn that’s fun to you. Shows, movies, books, podcasts, and study apps are all mediums you can use to keep learning and keep your brain active.

If your considering grad school, summer is also the perfect time to start studying for any standardized tests you may need to take.

As a co-op student, I’m going to be back in school full-time over the summer, and many universities offer lots of classes, and online classes, over this term. If there’s a course you’ve always been interested in taking, but never had room for it in your schedule, summer can be a great time to check it out!

As well, maximize the good weather! If you are going to study, find a nice spot in the shade, or by an open window, where you can fully enjoy the summer weather. (Alternatively, for the days it gets too hot, find a nice air conditioned place where you can stay cool and comfortable).

Look for jobs and other opportunities

On top of all this, summer is a good time to find a summer job. A summer job is a way to make some extra money to help you finance your educational career, but more than that, a summer job is a great way to gain more experience and build your resume. The ideal for many people is to find a job that’s related to your field, that will look amazing on your resume, and that will help you make connections and build your network. This job is not very easy to find, and usually requires you start looking months in advance, but there are still opportunities available. Even a simple part time job will give you valuable experience working for a company and interacting with coworkers.

Volunteering is also a great thing to do in your free time. It can help you contribute to a bigger cause, and it’s a great way to give back to your community. There are also a lot interesting ways you can volunteer, such as looking into an outreach trip or finding an organization that helps with something you’re really interested in.

Overall, summer is wide open, and it’s up to you what to do with it. Figure out how you want to use this time to grow, improve yourself, and get going!

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