How to Ward Off the Summer Slide as a College Student

While there’s still 24 hours in a day, there’s less time to relax – and an urgency to maintain your edge or advantage.  Accordingly, it’s important to find activities that ward off laziness and keep your mind sharp while you’re away from college.

An overarching theme is to combine structure and curiosity. Sure, it’s okay to fall back a little early in the summer – or on weekends – but doing so for too long will allow unproductive habits to creep in and undermine your momentum. Also, our 24 x 7 x 365 world and the seemingly constant need to be connected discourages slacking off.

Here are a few suggestions to avoid the summer slide:

Get a job!

There are many benefits to getting a job over the summer months, especially if your job jives with your college major, field of interest or volunteer interests.

Having a job will make you accountable to others and their schedules, and condition you to future employers’ expectations. Whatever you do, you’ll likely learn new skills and systems to keep you on your game. Of course, the jackpot is to land a paid internship, one where you can feed your need for knowledge, get a first-hand experience in your field, and make valuable connections or a strong impression on a potential long-term employer.

Continue your schooling

A recent post described several advantages of attending summer school. Besides saving on costs and getting courses out of the way, you’ll maintain a studious mindset and confront the challenges of exams.

Volunteer your time

Find an organization that speaks to your interests and allows you to gain some experience. The organization will welcome having your skills on-site. You’ll likely deal with real-world situations that have you bringing helpful solutions, and again, making new contacts will be a bonus.

Join a gym or recreational athletic league

Exercise or league play are excellent ways to learn new skills, practice teamwork or get in better shape. You can learn relaxation skills from Yoga, or at the other extreme, try Crossfit as a source of invigoration. The concentrated physical demands will help you shake off any rust and release endorphins as a source of stimulation. Participating in a softball or volleyball league can enhance your teamwork and collaboration skills.

Discover MeetUp

If you’ve not explored MeetUp, it’s a digital melting pot where individuals can “find their people” through common interests in order to connect, explore an interest or practice a skill.  Suppose your field of study requires proficiency in a foreign language. When you’re at school, a three-days-a-week class keeps you in practice. If you lose that community in summer, MeetUp can come to the rescue by connecting you with others also seeking to practice those skills through face to face conversations. Another option is to join a book club, where participants reading a common title meet regularly to discuss chapters, their meanings and implications. You’ll not only be more knowledgeable, you’ll be well-read and more conversational with others.

Though it’s natural to want to let your guard down in summer, readily available resources can help you refresh – and not retreat.