The Best Ways for College Students to Spend Summer Vacation

Summer is almost here, and that means surf, sun, tan lines, and time away from standard semesters. During the next few months, you have lots of options to choose from to make the most out of your break. Enjoying the moment by reconnecting with friends and family—or rekindling an old flame—are all perfectly acceptable ways to spend your time off. But you don’t have to sacrifice fun for productivity. You can have both!

Here are six options to make this an unforgettable next few months:

1. Get a Job.

My goal is not for this to sound like a mean command. Rather, I want to make you aware of what a great time summer is for finding work. If you plan on moving back home for a few months between semesters, you can still make time for friends and family while scraping together a few bucks at a local job.

If you’re new to college, try going after jobs that will help you save money. It isn’t crucial to scout out opportunities directly related to your field at this time; you’ll have two more summers before graduation for that. If your college career is coming to a close, use this time wisely to make contacts in your field for future opportunities. Working is also a great way to build your work history and make references for future job interviews.

2. Volunteer.

The summer is prime time for doing what you want to. Do you stand for a certain social cause, political party, or candidate? Are there any faith-based organizations that you’ve always wanted to help? The warm months are great for this kind of work! I have plenty of friends who’ve enjoyed spending time off by working for a specific cause. Volunteering is a wonderful way to gain experience and make friends.

If you choose to dedicate your time as a volunteer, you can feel satisfied knowing that your time was put to a good cause and your efforts were helpful. VolunteerMatch is an organization that claims to welcome millions of visitors a year to connect “good people and good causes” by providing the service to more than 77,000 nonprofit organizations.

3. Do Research.

I know what you’re thinking. Who wants to do research during the summer? Warm months are meant to be spent poolside with a drink (non-alcoholic if you’re underage) in hand. Slow down, my friend. All research doesn’t have to be dense and boring. Part of what makes my job as a freelance writer fun is that I get to research what I want to. Here are five reasons to freelance in your free time.

Keep this in mind: You can use your free time to find information about the things you’re interested in. For example, you can learn whether or not your favorite professor is scouting assistants for a special project. Or, perhaps you’d like to pay less for tuition and there are scholarships to learn about.

4. Take Summer Classes.

I can speak from personal experience when I say that this was one of the best decisions I made during my senior year of college. For half the price of regular tuition, I was able to take four full-time classes and audit another. Summer classes can be less competitive to get into—especially if you’re an underclassman and priority is given to upperclassmen. Typically, summer courses are a bit more intense because they include the same amount of work in less time.

Summer classes can help you accelerate toward an early graduation, save money, and keep your momentum going. If you feel burnt out from academia, you can take a class for fun. Art and yoga studios regularly offer classes without the heavy monotony of studying for tests and quizzes.

5. Apply for an Internship.

Working as an intern was one of the best experiences I had while studying in Boston. I met a lot of professional contacts by working a variety of unpaid jobs. Some of my best recommendations came from my bosses while I interned for them. To me, this was worth every second of my time. Applying for an internship is a great way to get your name out there. Typically, interns have to go through a preliminary interview before being offered the position, so it can be a great way to practice for later work.

Some companies offer college credit for your work, so you can get ahead in school while gaining hands on experience and learning valuable information about your field. If you’re lucky, you can also be given pay for your work, or a daily stipend to cover travel costs.

6. Travel or Study Abroad.

Summer is a great time for travel. School is out, and if you’ve previously saved money, or if money is no object, taking the time to travel overseas can be an unbelievable experience. Depending on your major, you can gear your trip so it’s not only informative but beneficial to your understanding of a nation’s customs, language, and history. These websites offer advice on finding the cheapest deals.

At Emerson College, students could apply to stay for a semester at one of our many campus locations,including: the Netherlands, China, London, Prague, Taiwan, and Beijing to name more than a few. My point is that there are opportunities everywhere. Take some time to check out your college’s study abroad programs, and decide if it’s something you want to do. In my experience, Emerson students loved their time abroad, and they missed it dearly once they came home.

I hope these tips help you to make the most of your time this summer. After all, it’s your vacation, so enjoy it!

For more posts by Sara Kosmyna.

What are your plans for this summer break? Share your summer vacation stories from college.

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  1. Mary
    Posted May 6, 2011 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    Very good suggestions.

  2. Lisa
    Posted May 24, 2011 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    YES! to all of the above… be productive! gain experience and meet people!

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