White male student in dark blood hoodie in empty classroom, smiling at camera

5 Easy Strategies to Stay Sharp Over Summer Break from College

From organizing notes to internships, here's what college students can do to stay sharp over the summer while still enjoying their much-deserved time off.

Summer vacation is here, and most college students are thrilled to be able to say goodbye to late-night cram sessions and weekends at the library for a while. It's time to enjoy your break and take a mental break from all the academic tasks required throughout the year. However, it's important to stay focused on learning and keep your mind sharp so the transition back to school in August is relatively easy. Here are some things college students can do to stay sharp over the summer but still enjoy this much-deserved time off.

1. Organize your notes

You should keep all your notes from the previous year and organize them into a convenient system that works for you. You might simply create a binder with notes organized by class or scan notes into your computer and save them to designated folders. There are many things students forget when the semester is over that could apply to future courses, so don't ditch anything yet. This is especially true when it comes to prerequisite classes that build upon each other as you move throughout your program of study.

Related: 6 Great College Organization Tips From a Type A+ Student

2. Take a prerequisite class over the summer

Many college-level courses are sequential, meaning you must take the first part of the course before you can take the second. Many students find out too late that classes aren’t offered when or as often as they thought, and it can put them back an entire year. One way to avoid this is to take a prerequisite class over the summer. Many colleges will offer these core classes in a six-to-eight-week format on campus or online, so you can get core classes out of the way and have more time to concentrate on your electives or major-specific courses during the school year.

3. Organize a study group

Another helpful way to stay sharp over the summer is to start prepping material for classes you know you'll have in the fall. Find out who you know who will be taking the same courses and organize a study group ahead of time. Many students do this once the semester starts, but it can take several weeks to get it up and running. If you and several motivated students are taking the same challenging course, get together and discuss schedules and strategies, or even arrange to meet the first week of the semester so you can support each other throughout the semester.

Related: 5 Simple Ways You Can Make Studying More Fun

4. Become an intern

One of the best ways for students to gain knowledge and insight into their future career field is to intern at a local company. Some universities will help students find an internship, while other students will need to fill out applications on their own. On-the-job experience is perhaps the best way to know what a career will be like once you graduate. Working on the job will also help you learn excellent time management skills, and in turn, this will help you with your classes during the year.

Review challenging topics

For most students, there's at least one subject that always seems to give them trouble—and for many, it’s math or English. Summer is an excellent time for you to sit down and work on whatever your challenging subject is with your study group or an expert tutor. During the school year, you have to focus on four or five (or more!) different subjects all at once, and it seems like there's never really any downtime. However, if you can focus on one difficult topic over the summer, you're more likely to improve and be successful academically, as well as keep your stress low.

Related: How to Start the New Semester on a Strong Note

Sure, summer break should mostly be for having fun, unwinding from a long school year, and spending time with friends and family—but looking to the future is smart. You're going to have a lot of fun summers, but they'll be a lot more fun with a secure path for your educational and career plans. Work on some of these smart strategies into your fun in the sun for a great and productive summer break. 

If you're worried about work ruining your summer, don't! We have all the best advice to ensure your break is still amazing. 

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Daniel Ogunlokun

Daniel Ogunlokun

High School Class of 2022

When I started looking at colleges in the beginning of my senior year, I was conflicted about which ones I wanted to attend based on safety, tuition costs, location, academic rigor, and prestige. Searching the internet and getting more questions than answers, I came across CollegeXpress, which made all the steps I had taken look like a minor issue. Everything was summarized and detailed, and I couldn't be more thankful and appreciative.



High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress showed me that Western New England University was a great match for me both with curriculum and location. CollegeXpress is an excellent resource both future and current college students.

Jeff Parsons

Jeff Parsons


Thank you so much for this valuable information about these opportunities. I truly appreciate the CollegeXpress communications and use them to keep my high school seniors informed about their opportunities!

Heather McCarty

Heather McCarty

High School Class of 2020

CollegeXpress has helped me with the college application process. The tips and tricks for important essays were so helpful. I also gained useful knowledge about college life. Even though I’m fully online, CollegeXpress has helped me develop a sense of how college is in person. The experiences from college students that were featured on their Instagram page have shown the good, the bad, and the “secret” life on campus from a reliable perspective. Not to mention, they relieved my feelings of anxiety about the workload. I can now understand how it can be stressful, but it takes self-control and willpower to get assignments completed on time and with quality.

Lexie Knutson

Lexie Knutson

High School Class of 2021

This whole website has helped me overcome the attitude I had before. I was scared to even approach the thought of college because it was so much. I knew it wasn’t just a few easy steps, and I panicked mostly, instead of actually trying. Without realizing it, CollegeXpress did exactly what I usually do when I panic, which is take it one step at a time. With college I forget that because it’s more than just a small to-do list, but this website was really helpful and overall amazing. So thank you!

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Belmont University

Nashville, TN

New York University

New York, NY

Lipscomb University

Nashville, TN