Ah, those lazy, hazy days of summer! We all love them — especially students. Although many soon-to-be or returning college students may be spending much of the summer working hard to earn money, the break from schoolwork and routine is welcome. The problem is that all of that summer ”laziness” may create some academic ”haziness” when school begins in the fall.
Chances are good that your student worked hard during the school year and deserves a bit of a break. But sometimes a little time spent thinking about school and the upcoming fall semester can give your student an edge in the fall. Skills slide over the summer and a little work can mean that they may slide a little less.
Here are a few suggestions to share with your student to help her stay sharp and get a little head start for the fall. Encourage her to take the initiative and address potential weak areas. Just a few hours can make a big difference.
- Consider a summer class to sharpen skills. Does your student have a weak area that she might be concerned about? Taking a high school class in a subject may not have been enough. This could make the difference between moving ahead, in a required math or writing class for instance, or having to take a remedial or non-credit class in the fall to brush up on skills.
- Get a tutor. Spending a little time working with a tutor could be another way to sharpen weaker skills to be ready for fall classes.
- Get a self–study course or find an online class. This can be another way to sharpen skills or even to get a head start in a class or area your student will take in the fall. Having some familiarity with basic accounting, for instance, could be a head start for that first accounting class in college.
- Find and organize some important high school class notes. Your student may have taken a class in high school that she will take again in college. If your student took a psychology class, for instance, she may take another psychology class in college for credit. Taking some time over the summer to review, organize, or even recopy those notes is a great way to use that high school knowledge to get ahead.
- Get together with friends to review some key class material. Finding a couple of friends to review with makes it more fun. Pledge to help each other sharpen knowledge and/or skills. Make it into a challenge or a game.
- If the college offers it, consider a summer bridge or enrichment program. Some schools offer a head start of sorts for incoming students. They will have the opportunity to take a course or mini-course on campus, learn about college class expectations, sharpen any weak skills, learn their way around campus and resources, and perhaps even earn some credit.
- Closer to the beginning of school, look online to see if a syllabus is posted for the courses you are taking. Definitely get a head start buying your textbooks, but see what you will be reading. Read a couple of articles about the subject. See if your professor has written any articles on the subject. Maybe even get started reading in your textbook. It will make the first few weeks of the semester more manageable.
- Finally, if nothing else, keep reading. Read, read, read. Read almost anything. Read a couple of novels. Read the newspaper every day. Read books about subjects of interest. Just keep reading. Many college professors complain that students don’t read enough — outside of required class reading. They complain that students have very little knowledge of things going on in the world. Read over the summer and be the student who knows and has something of substance to share.
Your student doesn’t need to spend the whole summer hitting the books to stay school sharp. In fact, a break can be a good thing. But a few hours spent focusing on academic subjects and skills can go a long way when school starts in the fall.