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Six Things You Can Do This Summer to Get Ahead Next Semester

Jul 17, 2009 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 1 Comments

You can relax this summer—or you can use the time off school to get ahead. Two or three months is plenty of time to assess where you are in your education and make plans to take it to the next level—and it’s never too early to start preparing for the career you plan to have when you graduate. Here are a few things you can do to start preparing for next semester while you’re on summer break.

Do an honest self-assessment

What worked for you last year, and what didn’t? If you had trouble getting assignments in on time or finding time to study last year, think about the causes of these things—and what you can do to fix them. The summer is an ideal time to start—to find childcare if you need it, to arrange for a different shift at work, or to get a laptop so you can study in a quieter place.  The more you realize about your study habits, patterns, and the things that hold you back in life, the better you can work to overcome them and get ahead.


If your professors gave you a summer reading list, don’t ignore it. Reading over the summer is a great way to keep yourself thinking about what you’re studying and continuing to learn. If you were never given a summer reading list, make one of your own. This will keep you interested in your subject and help you learn more about it—knowledge which is sure to come in handy and keep you ahead of the curve next semester.

summer reading list; stack of books

Summer vacation is a great time to relax—but it’s also an ideal time to start getting ahead for the next semester.




Take an internship or summer job in your field

It’s never too early to start working on your resume. Get an entry-level job or internship in the field where you plan to work after college. This is a great way to build up contacts that will come in handy when you graduate, as well as get a closer look at different careers within your field to see where you’d find the best fit.

Volunteer in your field

Making money is better than working for free—but if you can’t find a paid internship or entry-level summer job in your industry, why not volunteer? Volunteer positions are often much easier to get than internships, especially if the summer is nearly over and you need to work your volunteer efforts around a job or family obligations—and a volunteer position can often provide you with similar benefits to those you’d get at an internship, including contacts that might land you a job when you’ve graduated.

Get organized

Organization is key—especially for students who work online and who have to stay disciplined on their own. Before your next semester starts, set up a place in your home that can be your dedicated study spot. Buy comfortable office furniture, set up a filing system for handouts and homework, and update your computer, printer and other needed technology—whatever you need to do. If your study area is set up exactly the way you want it before you start your semester, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running.

Get into a routine

One of the most difficult things about the transition between summer vacation to a class schedule is getting into a regular routine—especially if you’re taking classes online and don’t have a regular class schedule to stick to. To get ready, start sticking to your routine before the school year starts. Get up at a regular time and plan time during your day to read, research jobs or do other things to get ahead. Pick a time that’s likely to coincide with your regular study time when the school year starts. If you get in the habit of working this way at a certain time every day before your classes start, it will be easy to stick to the schedule once they begin.

Summer vacation is a great time to relax—but it’s also an ideal time to start getting ahead for the next semester. Start reading, look for opportunities to volunteer or take on an internship, and develop your routine early, before classes start, and you’ll be ahead of the curve when classes start up in the fall.




Mary Jove Over a year ago

Love this article, I will pass along to my online students and make great use of it myself- as I too am a non-traditional student

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