The weeks between spring final exams and heading back to school in the fall are a glorious time. It’s a chance to rest, spend time with family, and, of course, let your brain turn to absolute mush. While taking a break from calculus and world history is one thing, it’s another thing to neglect any form of educational or enriching activity for weeks and weeks. Avoid the summer brain drain; here are five productive activities to keep your mind sharp over summer break!
Think of it this way. If you were a competitive runner, you’d need to train daily to succeed. The academic semester is your rigorous training schedule, and final exams are race day. As you head into summer break, you’re in the best shape of your life. But what is going to happen if you stop training all summer, just to dive back into full-time training in the fall? You’ll probably be a lot slower… and pretty sore, but that’s another story.
Set a reading goal or start a book club.
It’s so easy to zone out in front of the TV or mindlessly scroll through Instagram before bed every night, but spending that time reading instead can truly work wonders. Try setting a realistic reading goal – anything from 10 pages a night to 50 books over the summer, depending on who you are! – and stick to it. You don’t even need to be reading literary classics. Reading fun, light, summer beach reads always beats not reading at all!
You can make summer reading even more fun by starting a book club with friends. Take turns picking a book and hosting a themed book club when everyone is done reading!
Go on an educational outing.
If you haven’t been to places like the natural history museum, planetarium, or science museum since elementary school field trips, the summer is the perfect time to go. You might be surprised at how many cool exhibits you’ve been missing. Find one that interests you and make a day of it! If you’re anything like I was, you might spend your summer weekends at the same pool, the same movie theater, the same friend’s basement. The change of scenery is fun and helps prevent the brain drain.
Download (and regularly use!) some educational apps.
You’re already on your phone all the time, so why not make it productive? Practice a foreign language with Duolingo, do a daily question on an SAT prep app, “train your brain” with Lumosity, or watch educational talks on the TED app. The trick is to find an app that actually interests you or brings out your competitive side – that’s how it’ll turn into a good habit!
Help yourself while helping others. Volunteering can get you out of your comfort zone, challenge you to learn new skills, strengthen your time management, and have a positive impact on your local community. That’s a win-win… well, a win-win-win-win! Try to find an opportunity that goes hand-in-hand with future major or career goals. For example, volunteering with a medical organization looks great for a future pre-med student, while volunteering with children is great for someone interested in elementary education, etc.
Meet with a tutor to tackle any weaknesses.
I know, I know. This one isn’t the most thrilling or entertaining on the list, but your future self will thank you! If you’re struggling to keep up in a certain subject area, use the summer to develop these skills or simply play catch up. The Enrichery’s academic coaching is a combo of executive functioning coaching and content-specific tutoring. You’ll meet one-on-one with a coach 1 to 4 times per week to build solid study habits and work on the areas you need help with!
Preventing summer brain drain doesn’t mean sacrificing your summer. Even an elite runner gets an off-season… but they still lightly train a few times a week just so they don’t totally lose their edge. This is the same philosophy you should keep throughout the summer.