The end of another school year will soon be upon us! Some of you might have a few classes scheduled for summer school. But for many, these months are ones of complete academic freedom.
Lethargy can be an enemy, though. Studies have shown that learning is lost over the long break (particularly in the sciences), wasting time at the beginning of a semester re-learning content. And while these effects are documented far more on the K-12 level, the risks are real at the collegiate level, too. Of course, the summer break gives you time for trips or experiences that would be impossible during the normal school year. And taking those opportunities is something to be encouraged. But still, for the best results, you’ll want to keep your brain active and challenged throughout these months. Don’t let yourself shut down like a computer!
So this summer, keep your mind focused, and ready for more. There’s a lot you can do to facilitate that. First…
And not just something for pleasure, like a lightweight beach novel or children’s book or a magazine. Read something with a message. It could be a religious text, or a political one, or scientific. It can be fiction – drama or satire or historical fiction or speculative. It can be for your discipline, or something from some other field you never had time for during the semester, but which interests you. It could be in print or online. But read something you have to think about and grapple with. And then, do that thinking. Wrestle with those ideas. Get something lasting out of the experience. And, of course, if you need reading material, a library is a great place to go for it.
Obviously, there’s no need to write a formal academic paper. But articulating your thoughts in words is a skill that will serve you well in life. Writing hones us, and helps us focus on what exactly the best way to articulate something is. It could be something like a diary, where you make sense of your thoughts and feelings. Or you could try your hand a creative writing, whether fiction or poetry – remember, next year’s Tributaries will need submissions, and the summer months will give you plenty of time to wordsmith your work to perfection! Maybe what you write is just for you, and never intended for publication. But whatever it is, write something that takes thought. And something that takes research – listening to or consulting several sources. If you do, you’ll find your first paper next August to be a piece of cake.
It’s too easy to waste the summer sitting around, killing time fruitlessly. Having experiences like travel is one way to feel a lasting effect, but perhaps a better one is to contribute in some way to your world. It could be a mission trip with a church. It could be volunteering with a local cause you believe in, like Habitat for Humanity or HELP the Animals. Or maybe it’s more personal, such as reading one-on-one with a child. There are lots of ways to get involved, and the effects of your service will ripple outward for years to come, for you and those you touch. The Center for Service-Learning, located in the library, is an excellent place to start for finding a position that will not only enrich your life, but do meaningful good for others.
Don’t let these precious summer months go by unused. Read. Write. Act. And then, you’ll be sharp and ready when classes resume again in the fall.