They’ve survived term papers, all-nighters and final exams, and now it’s time for college students to enjoy their three months of freedom. But students shouldn’t completely ignore their college responsibilities if they want to stay on track for next year.
“It's important not to revert back to your high school mentality of summer--we all remember how jarring the first week back to homework and a busy schedule was after a lazy summer, and that was just high school,” says Hannah Faust, a rising senior at Loyola Marymount University. “If you lay around all summer, you can count on being behind in school starting day one of fall semester.” To make a smooth transition back to campus in the fall, here are five things every college student should do this summer.
Stay on Top of Deadlines
Professors and students may have the summer off, but it’s still business as usual for the university. Faust advises students stay on top of all time-sensitive financial or administrative obligations necessary for next semester.
“In summer time, there are often several deadlines regarding financial aid, housing, tuition and class registration,” says Faust. “If you don't keep college on your radar, you could miss out on some seriously important stuff.”
Gain Industry Experience
Students fortunate enough to land a coveted summer internship, should take the opportunity to build professional contacts, experience working in an industry and an office setting. Interns should be eager to help out and help with projects that will translate onto a resume. If an internship is not in the cards this summer, Wendy Smiseck, director of Career Services at Wittenberg University, suggests students volunteer at a local organization or charity in their perspective field to bolster their resume. “Volunteer work can be an excellent way to gain experience. Bottom line, experience is experience.”
Save for Upcoming Semester
Travel and going out with friends are big money drainers, and if students don’t carefully budget and save, they may find themselves strapped for cash during the school year. Suzanna de Baca, vice president of wealth strategies at Ameriprise Financial advises students with federal loans create a post-graduation savings account to help make payments or even start paying down loans while still in school.
“It can be hard to predict what kind of career, salary or further education will come after college, so working during the summer – and throughout the school year if possible – and saving money when one can is always a good idea.”
Work on Your Profile
If they don’t already have an account, Smiseck recommends students create a LinkedIn account over the summer as well as use the free time to scrutinize any other online profiles. Students should make sure their profiles are appropriate and attractive to potential employers. Any information, images and contacts that are negative or controversial should be deleted.
“Employers are turning to social media to determine whether or not you are a suitable candidate for hire and some photos or comments may not paint you in the best light,” she says. “Know what your career field expects and retool your social media site – this may mean tightening up security, suspending your account, or making yourself ‘unfindable.’”
Take a Week Off
It’s important students also take time this summer to relax and recharge. Experts say students will be more productive if they take the time for themselves and reboot before heading into the semester. “I am ending my summer internship a week before school starts so that I have a whole week to get my ducks in a row before the semester begins,” says Faust. “In that time I will be finalizing my schedules, organizing my planner, buying any necessary supplies, reorganizing my hard drive, etc. That time off will make sure the semester doesn't sneak up on you!”