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How College Students Can Stay Sharp Over Summer Break

From organization to internships, here's what college students can do to stay sharp over the summer while still enjoying this 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 in order to stay sharp over the summer but still enjoy this much-deserved time off.

Organize your notes

College students should keep all of their notes from the previous year and organize them into a convenient system that works for them. They might simply create a binder that organizes notes by class or scan notes into their computer and save them to a disk or folder. There are tons of things students forget when the semester is over that they could actually apply to future courses. This is especially true when it comes to prerequisite classes that build upon each other as students move throughout their program of study.

Take a prerequisite class over the summer

Many college-level courses are sequential, meaning a student must take the first part of the course before they can take the second. Many students find out too late that classes aren’t offered 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 students can get one of their core classes out of the way and have more time to concentrate on electives during the school year.

Organize a study group

Another helpful way to stay sharp over the summer is to get ready for the fall. Students can find out which friends will be taking the same courses in the fall and organize a study group ahead of time. Many students do this once the semester starts, but it can take them several weeks to get it up and running. If several motivated students are taking the same challenging course, they can get together and discuss schedules and strategies or even just arrange to meet the first week of the semester so they can support each other during midterm and finals study.

Become an intern

One of the best ways for students to become knowledgeable about their future career field is to work as an intern at a local company. Some universities will help students find an internship, while other students will need to fill out the applications on their own. On-the-job experience is perhaps the best way to know what a career will be like once a student graduates. Working on the job will also help students learn excellent time management skills, which will, in turn, help them with their classes during the year.

Review challenging topics

For most students, there is at least one subject that always seems to give them trouble—for many students, it’s usually math or English. Summer is an excellent time for students to sit down and work on this challenging subject with their study group or with an expert tutor. During the school year, students 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 students can focus on one difficult topic over the summer, they’re more likely to be successful and keep their stress low.

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