How to Enjoy Your Summer if You’re Staying on Campus

Summer is a time of magic, hope and endless possibilities. It’s not for apprehensions about the future or regret about the past, but instead, what you make of the pure and simple present. But this year, rather than tanning by the beach, you’re stuck on campus. Unless you’re lucky enough to live near the coast, the closest thing to a beach near you is a parched expanse of grass. Thankfully, there’s a lot more to summer than that. Whether you’re on a quarter or semester system, here’s how to change your perspective and actually enjoy your summer on campus.

1. Get out and socialize

Socializing helps you expand your own worldview and appreciate and take advantage of your college’s diversity. Leave your laptop behind for the evening, get out and start talking to people! It’s as easy as it sounds, and the benefits—increased self-confidence and genuine happiness—are undeniable.

Cydney Rhymes, a junior at Georgia State University, has spent all her summer terms on campus. She has some advice on what to do between your class times. “The classes are longer, but they are most likely earlier! That means that the rest of your day is open for a part-time job or extra activities like concerts, fairs, conferences and travel.”

Check out your school’s social activities center for events ranging from late-night movie screenings to outings to the city nearest to your school. Katie Kochanny, a rising senior at Michigan State University, notes that the city around your campus can be quite different during the summer. “I love the certain stillness about summer,” she says. “The lines are short and the traffic is nonexistent! It's quiet, peaceful, and I get to see it in an entirely different way." Even playing frisbee with your friends can transform into something magical in the summer haze.

Finding a new group of friends is key, especially if most of your friends have gone back home for the summer. While this may seem initially daunting, expanding your friendship circle is never a bad idea!

2. Find a summer job off-campus

While the majority of your classmates are back home, Starbucks and Chipotle are still up and running—and in desperate need of employees. Summer jobs and internships are a great way to make new friends and balance out your hopefully not-too-stressful course load.  

Samantha Burke, a 2016 graduate of Siena College, took a genetics course at Georgia Tech the summer before her junior year—and still managed to make a few extra bucks on the side. “I got my first job at Walmart, and was working full-time hours,” she said. “I ended up setting it up so that I had Tuesdays and Wednesdays off and Thursdays I closed, because all of our exams were on Thursdays so that way I had the two days before to study. I would have to go to class in my uniform, though.” While working full-time certainly isn’t everyone’s go-to, it certainly is something to strive towards! 

After you’ve updated your CV (no, don’t include your hobbies on there!), check out your school’s job board or career fair. Once you’ve applied to a few neat locales, patience is key. Lucky for you, you’ve chosen to...

3. Take interesting courses

Spending a summer term on campus is a great way to both get ahead in your major track and fulfill some of those graduation requirements. But remember, it is summer! When it’s 80 degrees outside and your friends are playing frisbee on the lawn, do you really want to be studying for orgo finals? (Unless you love the death trap that is orgo, of course.)

Summer on-campus classes aren’t just for college students. Your school might also be offering pre-college programs to high schoolers—their courses range from astronomy to nanotechnology to humanitarian intervention. Take their lead and dive headfirst into your intellectual curiosities. If you have time, you can even work on a minor! Many colleges offer unique classes only in the summer. Always wanted to learn about World Film History or Anthropology? Now’s your chance!

If the class you’ve been dying to take isn’t available over the summer, here’s a great alternative: take online courses! Katie has taken online courses in economics, and is only required to go on campus to take her exams.

Related: The 7 Most Important Classes to Take in College

4. Remember your friends and family

It’s important to make time for the people that matter most to you. Whether you’re feeling down in the dumps or up in the clouds, it’s amazing to have someone to share your emotions with.

Make sure to stay in contact with your friends! Now that you’re not seeing your them every day, it might be a bit more of a struggle to maintain your relationships, but it’s definitely worth it. Whether it be via phone dates or scheduled meet-ups, finding a routine and sticking with it is key.

Your family is equally important, especially since it’s often true that college students only visit their family during breaks. Video chats (e.g. Skype, Google Hangouts) and weekly phone calls can allow you to stay in contact with your family—not just your parents, but also your siblings, your grandparents, and your cousins every now and then—even when your schedule’s crunched for time.

5. Put your studies first

For once, you might actually be able to find a seat in the library! Unfortunately, even though there’s less competition for studying space, it doesn’t mean that the academic competition has decreased one bit. Moreover, as the hard-working student that you are, you definitely don’t want your GPA to slip. Finding a designated place to study that’s outside your dorm can be a great help in this venture!

And why should you blow your studies off during the summer, anyway? This might be the one time of the year where your professor’s office hours aren’t jam-packed. At the University of Florida, where two summer semesters are mandatory, Sydney Brodie, a 2015 graduate, notes that you’ll have easier access to campus resources over the summer. “When you're at a big school, it's nice to have fewer students on campus,” she says. “You're able to take advantage of resources that might be harder to get when there's 50,000+ students around.”

6. Prioritize your health

Even if you’re a fellow NARP, a healthy lifestyle should still be near the top of your list of priorities. Good nutrition is an essential part (and the occasional ice cream cone can be, too). Don’t stick to boring old ramen and breakfast cereals. Take advantage of the season’s freshest produce—watermelon, strawberries and oranges are among the top of my grocery list! You can even find a place that serves interesting food, and eat there once a week. Alternatively, learn a lifelong skill: how to cook easy meals in your dorm or apartment’s kitchen in less than 20 minutes.

If your typical exercise routine is working out in the gym, feel free to continue it during the summer! Samantha notes that she found an alternative to the gym during her summer on campus. “I’m not a largely active person, but I would take walks and runs through the neighborhood when it wasn’t excruciatingly hot,” she says.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to do this alone. Getting active can be as simple as playing frisbee with your squad or setting up a mock beach volleyball game on the quad. If you’re up for the challenge, many recreational and club sports teams—such as soccer, water polo and basketball—have a summer season. Your campus gym might even have special summer activities planned! 

It’s the little things that’ll help you break up the boredom of a summer term on campus. And after all, as we know too well, summer time doesn’t last forever. Before you know it, it’ll be fall, and you’ll be back with your friends (and books)!

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