Have a good time but remember…Some friendly advice for university students who are about to take a break from their studies this summer

If you are a university student, and want to have a more enjoyable and productive experience when you return to classes this fall, I have some friendly advice.

In roughly three months classes resume. Regardless if they will be in person, hybrid, or on-line, during the summer you will have numerous distractions, but you will also have some down time. Although you can spend your free time away from your studies, catching up on your sleep, doubling down on social media, or watching more Netflix or Hulu, but you might also use this time to better prepare yourself for the fall semester.

How should you go about doing this? First, don’t be so quick to get rid of the textbooks that you were assigned for your class.

Second, go to the books that you did not finish, or read in their entirety, read the chapters that were not assigned, or that you skipped (like the foreword or preface), and if you have time, read the complete text from the beginning to the end.

Take notes like you are supposed to, and ask yourself some basic questions like the who, what, where, how, and why of the content. Keep these notes in a handy location, not the scraps of paper that you probably threw out.

Third, once you have completed this task, turn to the remaining books that were assigned, but you didn’t use. Similar to the ones that you partially read, start reading the ones you never touched. Again, ask yourself questions like why did the author/s write the book, what was their main intent and message?

Fourth, use your free time to consider subjects that you think might interest you, but have never had time to explore in the form of elective university courses you might take in the fall.

One way to approach this task is find out which instructors will be teaching classes on subjects that might interest you this fall, and to ask them for a copy of the syllabus. They may not have the final version, but should be happy to send you an old version. This request will accomplish a number of goals including demonstrating to your potential instructor that you are interested in the subject matter, allow you to get a head start on purchasing the required books, or lending them from a library and once secured, start reading them.

As a result of this process, you may discover that the subject does not interest you. If this is a required class then at least you know what you are getting into. But if it is an elective, then you have some time to switch out of the class and into one that might interest you.

Finally, if your instructor told you that you should improve your writing, then it might make sense to make some in roads in this direction. There are numerous websites where you can access free content and lessons that will help you step up your game.

All in all these suggestions should enable you to better succeed in the fall with your classes and studies, and hopefully assist you in enjoying your time in those courses.

Missouri State University
Students sell back textbooks
(Photo by Kevin White)