April 5th, 2010 Jamie
Hey! It’s Spring! Do you know what that means? It means there are only weeks–and, okay, some really gnarly tests–between you and summer break. And do you know what that means? It means it’s time to get your summer plans going so you can optimize those three months and make them fully productive (and fun!).
I know that right now a summer of pools, sleeping in, and TV marathons sounds amazing, but too many pajamas-only days and your sense of accomplishment (and, uh, your social life) will start to wear thin. You may have forgotten in the heat of midterm exams and all-night cramming sessions, but summer can actually be pretty boring if you don’t get your buns in gear.
While you should definitely indulge in some relaxation time (you’ve earned it, right?), try to build a healthy balance of work and play into your summer schedule.
Work It, Baby
So, what qualifies as “work”? Aside from the typical part-time or full-time job, which is a wonderful way to earn the cash you need to enjoy summertime and stay afloat during school, there are tons of other productive things you can do:
- Volunteer. Choose something you’re interested in, and offer to lend a hand free of charge. Whether you’re dog-walking at your local vet or learning the ins and outs of construction with Habitat for Humanity, volunteering is a great way to meet new people, have unique experiences, and build your resume.
- Scholarships. If you quit applying for scholarships after you graduated high school, you are really missing out–there are tons of local and nationwide scholarships available for students in both undergrad and graduate programs. Up your odds of winning by searching out and applying for scholarships with a limited applicant pool–search for those targeted to your major, personal interests, or other unique characteristics.
- Tutor or Teach. If you’re not looking for a full time job but still want to bank a little something, tutoring might be a great option for you. Sylvan and Kaplan routinely hire college students to teach and tutor high school or younger aged students.
If you’ve got a different kind of skill to share, check with your local community college or community center. They often allow people to provide one-day seminars on things like computer literacy or other useful skills. A heads up, though–you’ll want to be prepared with a syllabus and behave professionally.
(Looking for more ways to do a little more this summer, or more info and resources about the items above? Check out these 5 ways to stay productive this summer.)
Okay, you’ve scheduled your work hours, lined up some volunteer time, and even planned a day to placate your mom by cleaning out your closet. Now the good stuff!
Since your play days aren’t as easy to nail down (your parents might let you ditch Aunt Ethyl’s dinner party for work, but probably not for a trip to the beach) I suggest you make yourself a Summer To-Do List. Write down everything you want to do–from big road trips to little things like stopping at your favorite local pizza place–and squeeze them in whenever you can!
(Planning a trip? Here are some cheap ideas for summer vacations.)
Yes, summer is coming, but there are tons of things standing in your way–the calendar and your professors, for example. So why am I telling you to start getting ready now?
Well, I hate to say it, but the early bird gets the worm. The majority of colleges get out within a few weeks of each other, so if you want to snag a summer job, you’ll be in competition with a flood of other college students going home. That means early planning could be the difference between a you who has money for a movie ticket and the you who has to settle for watching a DVD with your date while Mom and Dad are in the next room.
Fun stuff deserves planning, too. It not only gives you something to look forward to (which you’ll need during finals week!), but also allows you to do some money-saving research so you don’t go back to school sans-cash. If you’re traveling, start checking out sites like STA Travel, Priceline, Student Universe, and other travel sites to compare hotel and flight costs. If you’re staying home, find out which nights are free-popcorn night at the theater, or if your student ID can get you a discount at the burrito place downtown.
Get the dirty work done now, and you can really make the most of those three luxurious months to come.