By Lexie Pitzen | Photo: Alyson McPhee
Summer isn’t always fun for college students; it’s hard to be away from friends, and without classes and school events to fill time, summer days often feel long and lazy. But slow times during summer break are valuable; they are opportunities to learn and practice things that you simply don’t have time for while class is in session. Learning outside of the classroom is an investment in yourself, and it will pay off in the form of a deeper understanding of your college coursework, a head start on your career, and your own collection of personal and professional skills. Here are 5 things that you can learn and do over the summer when you’re in college.
Learn a new language — Even if you choose to study the same language that you learned in high school, brushing up on grammar and vocabulary over the summer will prime you for your college course material and save study time during the semester. Apps like Duolingo can make language-learning entertaining. Watching documentaries and reading articles in your target language will also sharpen your skills.
Develop professional skills — Solely attending class is not enough to develop the skills needed for a successful professional career. Over the summer, supplement your college education with an internship or a part-time job. Make an effort to learn as much as you can. Exceed your employer’s expectations. Ask to be trained in areas outside of your job description. Try your best every day. These jobs may feel meaningless right now, but they are incredibly valuable learning opportunities—don’t take them for granted.
Practice home skills — Once you start college, you are soley responsible for taking care of yourself and your living space. While spending time at home during the summer, learn any home skill you need to improve on, whether it’s cooking, doing laundry, or going grocery shopping. Get comfortable with these skills now so that when the semester begins, you can focus on school instead of scrambling to hold your personal life together.
Learn to code — Coding is a skill applicable to virtually any career. Whether you want to create an app or simply need another resume line, learning to code is a productive use of time. Furthermore, your coding education is highly customizeable; you can start from the beginning with HTML and CSS, or you can immediately learn to build an app with a program like Apple’s Swift Playgrounds.
Study a topic that interests you — With classes out of the way, summer gives you the freedom to explore any topic that you are interested in. You can find thousands of free online courses on the Internet through sites like edX, which offers free, online classes from top universities like Harvard University. You can also learn from YouTube videos and documentaries. And, don’t forget, your local library is an entire building dedicated to free access to knowledge—books, magazines, newspapers, movies, music, and more. Take advantage of it.