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How to Spend Your Summer Vacation in College

May 2, 2017
Caroline Smyth

Here are some way to make summer vacation work for you.

Make the most of your free time this summer.

As another tough semester comes to a close, summer vacation approaches, bustling with potential. That trip to the beach is just around the corner.

While it’s important to have a nice relaxing summer break, it’s also important to make time for academic and career planning. Just as you kept up on those summer reading assignments you had to complete back in grade school, staying on top of your college course plan and grad school prep can help set you up for success. Sticking to a loose schedule and setting general goals will make it easy to transition into whatever lies ahead of you next semester.

Use summer vacation to experience new things

There are many different ways to stay on top during the summer. In addition to creating a balance of having fun, socializing, and making plans with friends, summer vacation is the perfect time to challenge yourself by taking advantage of out-of-classroom learning experiences.

College is amazing: Regardless of your college major, you gain valuable lessons from professors and expose yourself to new ideas on a daily basis. However, a classroom is only one way of learning. Use your summer to experiment with other career-building or educational experiences, whether it’s shadowing a pediatrician, interning at an investment firm, or volunteering to build houses in a foreign country. The opportunities are endless—and can really set you apart from other graduate school or job applicants.

Get your summer courses out of the way

Although the thought of taking a summer class might be the last thing you would want to cross your mind, it might be the perfect opportunity to get that extra challenging calculus class out of the way.

Apart from allowing you to fully devote your time and energy to a specific subject, taking a class during summer vacation will can ensure you graduate on time. You may even do a whole lot better in the class than you would if you had taken it in the midst of a busy semester. Plus, it will keep you on a structured summer schedule, motivating you to keep up with a routine.

Take care of your body and mind

Summer vacation is also a great time to refocus your health goals. With the prospect of beautiful weather, getting outside is at your fingertips. Head to the beach for a game of volleyball or a walk on the boardwalk, or perhaps take a trip to a national park for a hike. With the weather in great shape, you can work on getting your body in great shape as well.

Now is the time to find what you love to do and find the best version of yourself. School and life after school can sometimes get muddy and complicated. The summer is the perfect time to explore who you are, your interests, and figure out what you want to do with your life. It can be difficult to find time for new interests during the semester while balancing schoolwork, a job, and various clubs and activities. Take advantage of this extra free time.

Make it fun

If you do decided to take the summer off, there are loads of ways to make your summer vacation more enjoyable. Here are some additional ideas to make the next few months more beneficial to your personal and professional wellbeing:

  • Just because school isn’t in session doesn’t mean you can’t explore new things and learn more about the career path you’re interested in. Look into local community events pages to see what’s going on near you. Perhaps there is an art festival at your library or an opportunity to shadow a professional in the field you’re interested in.
  • Try out a new exercise that you’ve never had time to look into before. You never know what you’ll end up enjoying.
  • Are you a music lover? Summer vacation is the perfect time to check out music festivals and concerts. Check nearby venues’ calendars to see who will be performing.
  • Join a book club and read something you wouldn’t have time for during the semester.
  • Apply for an internship at a company or organization where you could imagine yourself working after graduation.

Use your time off to relax and revitalize, but don’t neglect the opportunities that it also presents. It’s important to take the well-deserved time to rest—but you should also get in the habit of always learning and working to build the future that you want for yourself.  

Preparing for a professional degree this summer? Sign up for a free GRE practice test to take the next step.



Caroline Smyth Caroline is a junior graduating a year early from Binghamton University with her bachelor's in English Literature and Rhetoric. Her studies focus on writing, social media, and marketing, and she is currently a potential accelerated BSN student for this upcoming fall. As a writer, speaker, and juvenile diabetes advocate, she's known for her obsession with Instagram and her involvement as a Kaplan Student Brand Ambassador. In her spare time, Caroline can be found enjoying beautiful New York City, going to the beach, or cooking a delicious meal for her friends.


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