How to Help Your College Student Use the Summer Months Wisely

As a college parent, you may be looking forward to the summer months, and your student’s return home from college, with mixed emotions.  You’ve missed your student while she was away, and you are anxious to spend time with her again.  However, you recognize that she’s been on her own for months now, and you’re not sure what to expect.  Parents and students who worked hard to make the off-to-college transition, must now work at a new transition to living together once again.  There will be adjustments for everyone.

In addition to the adjustments that everyone will need to make regarding living together once again, college students may be faced with the question of what to do during these summer months.  Some students may have a job lined up – perhaps the same job that they had before they went away.  Others may still be unsure of what the next few months will bring.

Certainly, most students are looking forward to a well-deserved break from school work and routine.    However, this doesn’t mean that the summer months are not important, and hopefully productive, months for your college student.  After your student has had an opportunity to catch up on some sleep, eat a few home-cooked meals, and do some laundry, it may be time to have a conversation about a plan for the summer.

You’ll need to let your student take the lead in planning, but you may give some encouragement and guidance to help him think creatively.  Remind your student that the summer months can be an important time for advancing his college career – both directly and indirectly.  Here are a few suggestions of things your student might consider for the summer months.

  • Many students choose to use the summer months to work at a job to earn money.  For many students, this summer income is not optional.  If extra income during the summer months means that your student will need to work fewer hours during the school year, or possibly not need to work at all during the school year, that is important.  Students who try to work too many hours while attending classes may have difficulty balancing their study time and priorities.  Summer job experience is also important on your student’s resume.
  • Although your student may need a summer job primarily for income, encourage her to consider a summer job that relates to her chosen career or field.  This will give her an added benefit for her resume, and also give her the opportunity to test out the field to confirm that it is right for her.
  • Another option for summer work is an internship.  Some internships may pay, but most do not.  However, the experience gained by most students through an internship makes it well worth the unpaid time.  Students can “audition” a career, gain experience for their resume, and make important networking contacts.
  • If your student has difficulty finding a job, but needs income, she might consider working for a Temp agency.  She will be placed in short term positions which might last from a day to several weeks.  This will give her the opportunity to see many different work environments and industries.  She will gain important information and understanding that will be helpful when she is looking for a permanent job.
  • Your student might decide to take a summer class.  This may mean that your student will get ahead and accelerate his timeline to graduation, take something not available at his college, make up for a course in which he had difficulty, or simply take something for fun.
  • Your student might spend some time during the summer doing some job shadowing or informational interviewing. This is an excellent time to gain more information about her chosen field – as well as to make some important contacts.
  • Your student might spend some time this summer purchasing textbooks for his fall courses.  As of July 1, 2010, colleges are required to give students information about textbooks at the time that they register for courses.  Many professors post syllabi on line, and college bookstores usually have textbook information.  If your student plans ahead, he can find many books on-line at used book prices.
  • If your student buys her books this summer, she might spend some time getting a head start on some of her reading. This may make the fall semester feel less overwhelming at the beginning.
  • Your student might spend the summer traveling or studying abroad.  Travel is always an experience that broadens horizons.  Some students will be unable to study abroad during the regular school year – perhaps due to requirements in their major or some other reason.  Many programs offer summer study abroad experiences.
  • Your student might spend some time during the summer working on networking with people in the industry in which he is interested.  He might create a Linkedin account, attend local seminars or workshops, or find local events related to the field.  He may make some important contacts that will be helpful later.
  • Your student might spend time during the summer working on acquiring or polishing important skills. Working on anything from learning excel, publishing software, photoshop, improving writing or public speaking skills, will give her an advantage.
  • Your student might begin to work on some job-related preparation.  He can review his Facebook page from an employer’s perspective, work on his resume and/or cover letter, practice interviewing, shop for interview appropriate clothing.
  • Finally, and not least, your student should use the summer months for some relaxation, something fun, and something personally rewarding.  Being a college student can be hard work, and can be stressful.  The summer months can be productive, but should also be a break for your student.

Helping your student find the balance between productive use of her time and some summer fun is important.  Helping your student consider creative ways to use her summer may lead to some interesting and rewarding conversations. Do keep in mind that although you may suggest, your student will need to take the lead in choosing how to use her time. Enjoy getting reacquainted with the college student who is spending time with you.

Related Posts:

What Can My College Student Do During Winter Break?

Welcoming Your College Student Home for Break: What You Can Do to Prepare

Welcoming Your College Student Home for Break: What to Expect

Should My College Student Consider Summer Classes?


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