Picture this: It’s the Friday before summer break begins. You’re ready to soak up some sun, get back to the hobbies you’ve neglected, and maybe see a few friends. For the first time since August, you can kick back and relax… at least until Monday, when your summer course begins. Lucky you!
If you’ve made the choice to take a summer course, that’s great! And don’t worry—your summer is far from ruined. In fact, continuing to learn over summer break will keep your mind fresh and ready for the next school year. In other words, while your classmates will spend the first week back trying to remember how to use a pencil, you’ll already be in the swing of things. However, that doesn’t mean you have to let summer school dictate your life for the next 10 weeks. Here are some tips for how to succeed in your courses and still have a great summer break, because you deserve it!
1. Plan, plan, plan
First off: dig your planner out of the garbage—you’re not done with it quite yet! If you’re taking a college course over the summer as a high school student, you’ll have to get used to knowing when your assignments are due instead of counting on your teachers to tell you. The syllabus is your friend, so make sure to print it out and write the due dates for all your assignments in your planner or calendar. (If you’re a college student, you already know this routine.)
Use the Reminders app on your phone or try Google Calendar to notify you when your work is due—and make sure to give yourself enough time to actually complete each assignment. In other words, know how long it takes you to write a paper, do a problem set, etc., and plan accordingly. If you can’t write a paper in one day during the school year, chances are you won’t be able to do it over the summer either.
Related: Video: How to Become a Planner
2. Don’t slack off
Over summer break, you likely won’t feel the same pressure to pull all-nighters or work on assignments until your brain becomes overloaded like you do during the school year—but you still have work to do! Know your limits, and make sure to give yourself time for fun and relaxation, but keep in mind you’re still technically doing schoolwork even if it’s summer. If you find yourself having trouble focusing on studying, switch to a new technique. Maybe flashcards, Quizlet, or even Crash Course videos will do the trick that regular studying doesn’t. Even if you flip through a flashcard set while brushing your teeth, you’ll still be keeping your brain active and engaging with the course material.
3. Take breaks
While this tip may be a little more difficult during the school year, the summer offers a great opportunity to do all the fun things you’ve been putting off for the past nine months. Take time to hang out with your friends, go on vacation, or see a concert. Schedule your work time for perhaps an hour or two in the morning; this way, you’ll have something to look forward to rather than dreading doing schoolwork for hours every day.
If you do put in more than a couple hours of classwork each day, don’t forget to also schedule times to take breaks while you’re studying. Every 30 minutes, take a five-minute break—or whatever interval works best for you! Watch a YouTube video, listen to a podcast, or just relax. Just remember not to overload your brain with too much information at one time. Let the material resonate with you; don’t try to force it.
Related: Students: Don’t Feel Bad for Being Distracted at Home
4. Reward yourself
Did you ace your last test or get an A+ on a paper? In the wise words of Donna Meagle from Parks and Recreation: treat yo’ self! You’re taking a class over summer break, and that’s an amazing feat and show of determination in itself. Reward yourself with a day off, lunch with friends, or a night out. Don’t neglect your studies, but also remember to celebrate your successes.
5. Don’t mix work and play
I hate to break it to you, but this is one situation where you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Make sure to separate your work from fun, but leave yourself enough time for both when possible. If you have a paper due on the same day you planned to see a movie with your friends, it’s probably best to prioritize your work and make up for the time lost later. You can’t be two places at once, so don’t try to cram schoolwork and a night out with friends into the same day if there’s too much to get done.
Related: Top Tips on Becoming a Well-Rounded Student
These tips will help you crush it at your summer course while also having fun over your break—it just takes a little planning and organization. And remember to wow your friends with your newfound knowledge when you return to school in the fall. Best of luck with your summer courses!
Need more advice on managing your time and balancing your schedule during summer or the school year? Check out our Student Life section.