50 Ways for College Students to Maximize Summer Break

Don't miss out on all the sun, fun and productive ways to spend your summer break from college!

Summer's almost here!

After two full semesters of reading assignments, essays, study sessions, group projects, all-nighters and exams, it’s at last time for a well-deserved break - a lengthy one, at that.

How will you spend your months off? Working, reading, traveling, relaxing, learning a new skill or language? No matter what your goals include, summer vacation is the perfect opportunity for college students to explore enriching activities that you don’t always have time to pursue during the school year.

Check out our list of 50 productive & fun ways to spend your summer break for inspiration!

Summer Break Ideas for College Students

1. Learn a new skill to add to your resume. Expand your skill set beyond your major. Interested in coding, website design or other subject that might not be offered in your college? Look for courses relevant to the field or industry you want to enter.

2. Indulge in hobbies or try a new one. Explore your interests and pursue your creativity by signing up for a class, lesson or group in your community. Try a new instrument or hone your skills further, take a class in painting, photography, drawing, sewing, self-defense, or any subject you find intriguing but don't have time to try during the school year.

Internships and apprenticeships are productive ways to spend your summer vacation

3. Get an internship. Take what you learned in the classroom and apply your knowledge! Even if it doesn't offer a stipend or salary, a summer internship is a great way to learn more about a business or industry and gain practical work experience to add to your résumé. (This is also a great way to build valuable connections and help determine whether a career is right for you.)

4. Create an internship. Nothing lined up yet? Reach out to potential employers or companies you find inspiring and offer an apprenticeship or internship opportunity for the summer. You might not rake in the cash, but the work experience and job skills you'll gain are worth their weight in gold!

5. Work a summer job. Working over the summer, whether part-time or full-time, helps students acquire transferable skills, such as communication, organization, time management and administrative skills. Look for part-time or summer opportunities related to your major or career path if possible.

6. Volunteer for a great cause. Find opportunities to do good in your community, or join a volunteer travel program, to apply your skills and education through meaningful, hands-on learning. Volunteer roles are often available through research programs and organizations in need of your help, including charities, festivals, local non-profits, events and community groups.

7. Study abroad. Take your education overseas! Studying abroad helps develop skills that a classroom cannot provide, forcing you to take risks, become more independent, expand your worldview, push your boundaries, and make friends around the world.

8. Plan a budget for the upcoming school year. Learn to manage your money. Before you know, it will be time to enroll in classes and head back to campus. Now's a great time to help smooth the transition to the fall semester by planning money matters and preparing your budget for the upcoming semester.

9. Turn a weakness into a strength. Struggle with public speaking or writing essays? Take a class or join a group to help cultivate transferable skills that might need work through practice, exercises and helpful feedback.

10. Email your professors. Whether you're sending a thank you note, asking a question or requesting a letter of recommendation, summer is a great time to check in on your favorite professors and strengthen your connections in your school community.

11. Catch up on summer reading. Get a head start on your fall reading list, if available, or make an effort to read a book in a field you're interested in studying. Summer is also a great time to pick up a leisurely book just for fun that you might not have time to read during the semester.

12. Explore your city. Have a staycation! If you were a tourist in your town on vacation, what would you do? Try a walking tour of your city and learn about the secret gems and historical landmarks you may not have appreciated before.

13. Opt outside. Enjoy the outdoors? Join a hiking or climbing club, go on fun outdoor adventures or day hiking trips, plan a camping trip with friends, or look into working at a summer camp or national park.

14. Take a summer course.  Get ahead in your schoolwork and avoid summer slide by knocking out some required basics, your foreign language requirement, or ask professors in your department about field placement, independent study or research opportunities available in your area.

15. Take an online summer course. Save money and gain credits needed to graduate without the commute.

Encourage students to make the most of summer break

16. Join a summer sports league. Love sports and community? See what's in your area this summer: baseball, beach volleyball, tennis, kayaking, crew, and other recreational sports teams you can join during your summer break.

17. Try a new form of exercise. Interested in trying something different: outdoor yoga, pilates, golf, dance, spinning or rowing? Summer is a great time to explore something new and see if it’s a good fit.

18. Attend a professional development conference. Invest in yourself! Summer conferences are a great way to expand your network and keep you inspired and knowledgeable on industry trends. Explore options relevant to your career goals and consider joining a professional organization, such as National Association of Black Journalists Conference, BlogHer, and NAWMBA Conference (National Association of Women MBAs). (Many organizations offer a discounted membership fee for students!)

19. Explore a career. Shadow an industry professional for a day to get a taste of a future career. Do your homework on industry leaders in your community, and don't be afraid to reach out and connect with alumni from your school who live in your area. They may be thrilled to offer their advice and share insights with a current student of their alma mater!

20. Fix up your résumé. Summer is the perfect to update your work and co-curricular experience (such as adding leadership roles and club involvements on campus) and really polish your résumé.

21. Review your notes. Prepare for your upcoming classes by reviewing your work and notes from the past year class, and reflect on your successes and challenges. Consider what you will do differently in the coming semester to maximize success.

22. Get a head start on upcoming courses. Already registered for fall classes? Reach out to your instructors for recommendations on best ways to prepare for the fall semester. They might suggest research and readings to help build a strong foundation of knowledge.

23. Plan extracurriculars & clubs for the fall. Getting involved in activities outside the classroom such as student clubs, sports and other pursuits enhances the college experience, providing invaluable opportunities for learning, networking and developing professional skills. Do an inventory of your involvements, and make a plan for the upcoming school year.  Explore groups on your campus and opportunities for involvement and leadership.

24. Get to know your advisor. Are you a new or transferring student, or changing your major this year? No need to wait until September to access resources and support from administrators on your campus. Your academic advisors have a wealth of knowledge available to you - take advantage!

Summer is the perfect time for student travel

25. Get some new stamps on your passport. Take advantage of your free time and book that trip! Whether you'd like to explore a foreign city, backpack through Europe, or simply take a road trip with friends, summer is the perfect time to get out and explore. Look into international travel discounts for students, educational tours and student travel groups.

26. Create a business. Distinguish yourself from others by flexing your entrepreneurial muscle: tutor a foreign language, design and sell custom clothing, set up shop on Etsy for your homemade crafts, offer guided tours in your town, or start a house/pet-sitting or lawn care business to demonstrate innovation, dedication and determination.

27. Harvest your creativity. - Get involved in a local performing group or theater project. Devote your energy into developing collaborative skills as part of a performance community.

28. Conduct your own individual project. Employers love a self-starter! Take matters into your own hands by creating a short film, building websites and contributing to GitHub, or writing guest blogs. Personal projects not only demonstrate your initiative and dedication, but also help you explore and develop skills needed in your career and are a great, practical way to beef up your resume.

29. Start a blog. Improve your writing skills by taking time to write every day. Starting a blog is a productive way to explore a topic of interest and practice important professional skills such as copywriting, outlining, editing and proofreading. Look for workshops in your area, partner up with a friend, or simply launch your own blog and get writing!

30. Take in some culture. Take advantage of student discounts: go to a museum, attend a film festival, see a play or check out a music festival.

31. Research a topic you would like to explore. Completing an undergraduate research project offers you a leg up on graduate programs and professional school admissions, helping you stand out from a pool of applicants. Look for opportunities to work in a lab, do hands-on field work in your industry, study new public policy issues, or connect with your favorite professor who may be delighted to work with you on your research project.

32. Find a mentor. Learning from someone with experience. A good mentor can help you grow immensely by advising you on career direction, making good decisions, establishing long-term goals, and determining actionable steps you should take toward them. Connecting with leaders in your community, your school's alumni or even upperclassmen is a great place to start.

33. Go for a bike ride. - Grab some friends & bikes (or rent a tandem bike for two or more) for a fun way to get out and get some exercise. If you're feeling really motivated, join a local cycling club or start your own.

34. Go on a spontaneous adventure. Summer is the perfect time to hop on a bus or train to somewhere new. Or look for last-minute deals on flights for a quick weekend trip with friends. Pack a bag, pick up some friends, choose a direction and see where the road takes you!

35. Learn about a different culture. Reach books or research online about different countries and cultures. Consider places where you'd love to travel or study abroad opportunities for the future.

36. Get in the kitchen. There's not always enough time during the school year to learn to cook, so sign up for a local cooking class to hone your culinary skills!

37. Go camping with friends. Organizing a camping trip during the school year can be a challenge. Your workload is heavy and the weather is not ideal. Summertime, however, is perfect for exploring the great outdoors. Grab your friends, pitch a tent or rent a cabin, and get in touch with nature!

38. Organize a picnic. What better way to enjoy the warm weather than to have a picnic with friends? Food, drinks, frisbee, kites, maybe an acoustic guitar... make it a potluck and invite everyone to bring their favorite dish to share. Just make sure to pack the bug spray!

39. Set up systems for success for the new year. Do you struggle with time management and organization during the school year? Spend a little time now to plan for the upcoming semester to save time and frustration once school starts! Research organizational tips and best practices, or reach out to your student affairs office on your campus for suggestions.

40. Polish your LinkedIn. Whether you're going to be graduating next year or just seeking a part-time job or internship, you'll want to showcase your skills and work experience via LinkedIn or by building your own personal website. Make sure to keep it clean and professional, and invest in a great headshot from a professional photographer.

41. Sell or donate the things you aren't using. Purge your closet & donate items you no longer need. Go through your old stuff and donate what you don’t use or need / clean out garage ----

42. Clean up your digital presence. This can mean reviewing and editing your social media channels to make sure that potential employers can see your best self, or simply cleaning up your laptop, deleting old pictures from your devices and organizing your email inbox. Start your new school year with a clean slate!

43. Enjoy nature. Nothing more relaxing on a summer evening than laying out and looking at the stars. Spend an evening stargazing or try geocaching with friends for a fun outdoor adventure.

44. Spend some time on the water. - Take a road trip to a nearby beach or lake, go canoeing, kayaking or rafting, or go for a run with friends along a picturesque waterfront.

45. Become a camp counselor. Not only do you get to relive wonderful summer experiences like horseback riding and archery, but you also walk away as a positive role model for young boys and girls (not to mention adding valuable work experience and developing key leadership skills).

46. Disconnect & take it outside. Turn off your phone, and go read in a park or on the beach. Do things you'd normally do indoors outside: an outdoor concert, Shakespeare in the park performance , movie screenings, etc. Check your local events calendar and bring a blanket, friends and snacks!

47. Get crafty. You've finally got room to breathe and get creative - no reading assignments, no exams or study groups. Take some time to make something unique: scrapbooking, woodworking and DIY projects are great options.

48. Learn another language. Whether you're practicing at home, in a summer class, or traveling internationally for an immersive learning experience, make time this summer to hone your foreign language skills.

49. Study for admissions tests. Planning to apply to law school, business school or other graduate programs? Maximize your competitiveness by ramping up your study schedule. Summer is an ideal time to study for standardized tests such as the LSAT, GMAT and GRE, because you're able to focus and devote extra hours on test prep without the distraction and priority of classes during the academic year.

50. Take a break! Make sure to recharge and relax this summer. After an action-packed year of learning, college students need time to destress, free of school and work duties. Taking time to relax during summer break is important and crucial to avoid burnout. You will be much more motivated when the fall semester starts, too!

Balance is key, so plan your summer vacation with a mix of enriching activities, productive endeavors and, perhaps most importantly, free play!

Whether you’re boosting your resume, broadening your horizons, exploring careers, enjoying some fun in the sun, or giving back to your community, there’s so much fun to be had during the summer months, so make the most of it!

Enjoy the ride!

 


What are your summer plans? Leave us a comment below to share the ways you're making the most of your summer vacation!

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