summer break

Sacrificing Your Summer for School

As the spring semester comes to a close, many college students are focused on that great summer break until late August or September. For some students, though, they are focused on those couple weeks they have off before classes resume again. Yes, there are really people out there crazy enough to take summer classes.

Summer School

There is a negative connotation around taking summer classes because of what it meant in high school: you failed and this is the only solution to passing on. That is not the case in college. Taking some credits during summer semesters means you have less of a workload during regular semesters, or you could graduate early. The classes are typically smaller, so you have a chance to connect with your fellow classmates and get more one-on-one with a professor. Many students can be afraid of professors because of their busy schedules in the regular semesters. During summer semesters, they are there to focus on you and fewer students than in other semesters. Starting to sound pretty good, isn’t it?

Of course, there are some drawbacks, as with anything in life. Taking summer courses means your summer break is interrupted. Some days you will have class all day, meaning you can’t go swimming or the heat will be sweltering. Some days you will have a night course, which means all your socializing has to be done during the day. In addition, many summer semesters are very shortened versions of regular semesters. This means longer class times and shorter periods of time to complete assignments, not to mention more things you have to learn in a day. The drawbacks do certainly put a damper on things, but every con should be compared with a pro.

For many, summer school just seems like an absurd option. For some, it’s a great chance. What do you think? Leave your opinions below!

Off-Campus Involvement: Giving Back to Your Community

Get Involved

Whether you’re a commuter or an on-campus student, many universities want you to get involved in any way possible. This can range from attending professors’ office hours, attending a campus event or getting involved in a student organization. What some fail to realize is there are ways to get involved in the community off campus, too! Now that summer break has began many on-campus clubs and activities are finished meeting until the fall, but there are plenty of other ways to keep busy. Here are a few suggestions for you to keep in mind:

1. Volunteer at a local senior citizen home. Most residents love telling their stories to visitors, and unfortunately, many of them don’t get visitors. Volunteer! Ask them about their lives, their favorite colors, their favorite objects. If one lady likes blue and loves sweaters, get her a blue sweater. If one man loves drawing and made a life of it, get him high quality colored pencils. Bringing a smile to someone else’s face is a rewarding experience. Don’t miss out on it!

2. Hold your own fundraiser for a cause of your choice. There’s many organizations out there in need of money and/or food. Hold a bake sale to raise money for the local humane society or the WWF. Get a group of friends together and have a food or book drive for the local food pantry or for underprivileged children. Little acts of kindness go a long way, and that can be especially true in this case.

3. Volunteer at a local church or outside organization. Many places have Habitat for Humanity branches on and off campus. Get involved off campus! Volunteer at a church and offer to hold dinners for the homeless. Many campuses also provide a service that will let you find the volunteer group that’s just right for you. Be proactive and find a group that you can help.

While being involved on campus is valuable, it is important to realize that we will eventually leave our college and be a part of a larger community.  Whether you’re visiting with the elderly or volunteering with a local group, it feels great to become an active member of the community. With so many different opportunities and ways to participate there is no reason not to. Don’t delay any longer!

Do you have any other suggestions for getting involved? Leave a comment below, or talk about your own experience in off-campus involvement.

Things to Work on This Summer (Besides Your Tan)

As the semester is ending, the only thing on my mind is summer. While I wish I could spend my summer lounging around, the sad reality is that I can’t. This summer I’ll be working part-time, working two on-site internships, as well as blogging for eCampus.com. Maybe you don’t want to spend your summer like me, but there’s something everyone can do to be productive during break. The following are my recommendations for ways to have a productive summer break.

enjoying the sun

1. Work. Working allows me to save up money so I don’t have to work as much during the school year. If working part-time is the only thing you’ll be doing this summer, then you’ll still have plenty of time to relax and hang out with your friends.

2. Intern. Internships are the best way to get experience related to your field. Unfortunately, many internships don’t pay, so doing one in the summer can allow you to work without trying to juggle school and work too. But the important thing about internships isn’t the money; it’s getting real experience. Internships are also a great way to gain pieces for your professional portfolio. If you don’t know where to start looking, check out internships.com (that’s how I got this position)!

3. Volunteer. There’s nothing more rewarding than doing something good. Countless organizations take volunteers, especially during the summer. Volunteering is a way to do something you’re passionate about outside of school.

4. Study abroad. If there were one thing I wish I could do, it would be to study abroad. While it may be pricey, there are options to take care of the finances. There are numerous national study abroad programs, and your school may have its own study abroad program. Learning or working in a foreign country is a great resume enhancer.

5. Personal improvement. If the above don’t seem like your thing, you at least owe yourself some “me” time after a long semester. Start a new fitness routine, read a book, or take up a new hobby. There are endless ways to spend your summer. You don’t want to waste three months with nothing to show.

There is nothing wrong with relaxing for a few days after finals and enjoying the sun, but it is important to have a plan. The longer you sit around, the harder it will be to get back on schedule.  What are your plans for making this summer the best it can be?

Moving Back Home for Summer

The school year is coming to a close and for most of us that means returning home to our families. How do you live with your family again after a year on your own? Although excited to see them, who wants to go back to rules or maybe even curfews? Living well over the summer with your family is very important because its only 3 months out of the year. Here’s the how to.

When returning to your family, go with a clear mind. Don’t spend your time thinking about all the things you will be missing out on in your college town. Don’t think about all the old rules and chores you may be returning to. Instead, think about the positives. Odds are, your family misses you very much and can’t wait to see you. Think about home cooked meals, good times with the family, and reuniting with high school friends.

One of the hard parts about going home is dividing your time evenly between loved ones. Obviously your family misses you very much and wants to consume large amounts of your free time. High school friends will be calling and excited to hang out. A lot of times, it’s hard to not blow off the family when you’re excited about seeing your friends again. Be careful about equalizing your time as much as possible because you don’t want anyone that you rarely see to feel left out. Maybe try grilling out with the family then meeting up with some friends later. Compromise is the key.

In college we get used to doing what we want when we want. We are adults for that matter. We go out when we want, come home when we want, eat what we want, say what we want, and spend money when we want. If we want to, we can let dishes sit in the sink for a week, not vacuum our room and we can blast our stereos at their maximum capacity. It’s hard to get used to the old when we’ve finally broken out on our own. Parents often expect to know where you’re going, who you’re with, and what you’re doing at all times. A lot of parents don’t see the fact that you’ve gone to college as a free pass to let you do whatever you want. How do we get used to old rules?

My advice would be to talk to your parents and attempt some sort of happy medium which can make you both happy. Maybe suggest having no curfew if you stay in communication and let them know where you are. All it takes is two seconds to send a text message and inform your parents now a day. Obviously, sloppiness has to go. You’re most likely going to be expected to do some of your old odd jobs around the house and to be somewhat tidy. Keep clean without the complaints, I mean, you have 3 months of free room and board, it’s the least you can do. Common curtsies will be of most importance. For 3 months, be kind and pay attention to the little things that might bother your family.

You’ve gone the entire school year without your younger sibling’s annoying ways. Although we love them, we all know how little brothers/sisters can be. It’s hard to go back home and live with a little sibling again. Just remember you are more mature now and under control. If they start their antagonizing ways, just ignore them. Odds are, they’ve missed you a lot and your relationship will be different when you return home. As you’ve aged and grown, so have they. Just try and be patient and most importantly, a good role model.

Put these tips to use and live well this summer with your loved ones. Families are irreplaceable, and attitudes are spoilers. Go with a warm smile and a kind heart, and really soak in those 3 months at home.

-Speedy G.

I’m reading America’s History