The summer slump: how to be productive during summer
Summer’s here, but what’s next?
The plethora of assignments that were due, the countless hours of caffeine consumption and the endless late night study sessions - done and dusted! Freedom is officially a badge you can proudly wear for the next three months. With the tide of stress beginning to recede, a huge sigh of relief is in order for those who have battled exam season and come out intact just in time for summer.
With the cessation of university exams and copious deadlines for students, all of us (including myself) can begin to savour and enjoy the surprisingly great UK weather without experiencing pangs of study-related stress riddled guilt.
Summer slumps are inevitable for a lot of us. Unless you have the whole summer booked to capacity with endless activities or a full-time job/internship, here are a couple of ways to productively utilise your free time this summer. Surprisingly, there’s a lot you can do that takes little time, a bit of effort but will set you up for the next academic year.
Summer is not eternal
Catch up on the hobbies that you’ve abandoned for the last six months. Invest in your mental health and reconnect with your favourite pastimes that you had little time to indulge in during the academic year. With sleeping patterns that for a lot of us are abysmal, it’s a great time to reset our sleeping schedules and hopefully retire the eye-bags off our faces and back into the closet.
Look into volunteering
The wonder of Netflix is unbeknownst to very few of us during summer time. It’s almost too easy to make a home for yourself on the couch with the likes of endless hours of Friends to keep our minds 'occupied'. Instead get involved with your community and volunteer for local charities and organisations.
Expand your consciousness
“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”
― Albert Einstein
An easy yet productive way to acquire new knowledge about common current topics are through educational talks and podcasts. They're not only a great way to open your mind to novel information but they can allow you to view certain topics from a different perspective. One of the many things that I have learnt as a third-level education student is that the overall learning journey encompasses much more than what you will study in the four walls of an archaic university building.
The journey of acquiring knowledge is one that will continue beyond your university years.
It is this knowledge that will supplement your frame of thought with novel perspectives on how you view the world around you. From the world of finance to perhaps understanding the growth of nanotechnology in science to understand attributes in leadership and so much more. There's so much to learn aside from what a lecturer can ever teach in a theatre.
What is does your "vision" look like?
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Amidst the glee of having a schedule that you have complete control of in summer, be mindful of the fact that like all things, summer will come to an unfortunate end. The commencement of a fresh academic year is one that can be approached with a fresh and well-prepared outlook. Reflect on how the academic year has transpired for you. What lessons did you learn? What mistakes did you make? Do you understand why you made these certain mistakes and the new behaviours you can adopt to enable you from falling into those same pitfalls? Food for thought! It’s questions such as these that permit the essential process of self-reflection and self-evaluation which ultimately are great segways when you finally approach the task of making smart, specific goals.
Make your goals specific
Goals such as “I want to improve my grades” are vague and ambiguous and consequently, the inclination for you to attempt to change your behaviour patterns and habits to attain such goals is slim to none. Instead, a goal such as “I would like to be more disciplined with making notes after lectures as well as to overcome procrastination in my studies” is specific and targets exactly what you want to achieve.
Preparation is key
As a pharmacy student, I know first hand how aggravating it can be to come across great placements but of how early the submission application dates were. A lot of internships/placements that are available for pharmacy students (and most students) have early submission deadlines - a lot of which will conveniently coincide with the busy periods before exam seasons.
Research work experience opportunities
Make a note of some internships that catch your eye, record each individual submission date and the written pieces that are required to be considered for eligibility. Ultimately preparation is key and the great thing about planning in the summer is that time is not your enemy! You have the opportunity to really ascertain which areas of work experience will be not only beneficial for my degree and professional development but will also be conducive to your learning style.
Keep your eye on the books
“Organise, don't agonise.” ― Nancy Pelosi
Before you roll your eyes at this particular point, small sessions of revision can keep your brain somewhat cognisant of the topics you’ve covered. Whether this is early reading or brushing over topics you’ve covered - this is a great way to refresh your memory. Sounds like too much? Organise your notes from the past academic year. Dig out your binders/folders that have been tossed under the bed and out of sight and collate a neatly filed collection of your notes, returned and graded coursework papers, seminar and workshop materials placing each in separate categories. The benefits of this mean that when the time draws near for you to refer back to a previous year’s material, you’ve got a nicely laid out collation ready and waiting.