After a long and grueling semester, summer has finally arrived! While many college students use the summer as a time to take a break from academics, a great deal of students take advantage of summer classes that their universities and colleges offer. (Or those that their local community colleges offer.) Summer classes—which are usually time-condensed versions of the more typical semester long course—can be especially daunting for some students, who may find it hard to get into the right headspace during a season that is usually full of fun and free of schoolwork.
If you’ve found yourself stressing out about your summer classes, don’t worry! We’ve come up with a few suggestions that will put you back in control of your academic endeavors, providing you with the confidence and tools that you need to succeed. Remember if you can succeed in the fall and spring, then you can ace your classes in the summer as well!
Set up the perfect study spot
A cozy, inviting study spot sets the stage for you to succeed in your schoolwork.
While the ambience of a campus library may provide the perfect setting for studying during the school year, most libraries significantly cut down hours during the summer, so you may find yourself without your classic study spot. Just because you might have to spend a little more time studying at home, doesn’t mean you can’t make your home the perfect atmosphere for schoolwork!
Before classes even start, try to create your own personal study spot by finding a place in your home that you think will work for your study needs and designate it as your “work zone.” This can be a desk that you already have set up in your bedroom, your kitchen table, it doesn’t matter as long as you can get work done there! After finding your perfect work zone, take some time to freshen it up and make it as productive as a space that you can. Clear the area of excess clutter and find some spots for you to store your school materials nearby.
To really create a focused atmosphere, try investing in some decorative wall art to spruce up your study space, providing a perfect backdrop for a Zoom meeting with a professor or an online study session with a classmate! You can also try setting up an aromatherapy humidifier in your study room. These machines provide a cool mist alongside a therapeutic scent, which you can customize with your own blend of oils perfect for studying. If your room needs a bit of a mood shift, try placing a few of these flameless candles to create soft, ambient lighting for your next study session. With a little bit of work and a few small investments, you can create the perfect space for you to get you summer schoolwork done that rivals even your campus library!
Set some goals for yourself
Looking to boost your GPA? Trying to learn a new skill? Find a few academic goals to set for yourself to motivate you throughout the summer.
Chances are that you’re not taking a summer class for no reason in particular. Many college students use summer classes as a way to get ahead on their course loads, catch up with gen eds, or even to save some money. Regardless of your reasoning behind taking a summer class or two, it’s important to remember that these classes are serving an important purpose.
To make sure that you are giving your classes your best efforts, set some goals about what you are hoping this summer semester will allow you to achieve. If you’re trying to squeeze in a few classes in order to graduate early, realize that the classes you take now are merely the vehicle that will let you get to that coveted destination of premature graduation. See your classes not as burdens put upon you to rob you of a precious summer but rather as the things that will eventually get you to where you want to be, whether that be in a position further along in your major requirements or with a higher GPA.
Write down what purposes these classes are serving you and remember them every time you feel like you’re losing motivation to crank out some brilliant academic work. Everything is done for a reason, summer classes included!
Organize, organize, organize!
Staying organized will allow you to free up time and hassle in your day-to-day duties.
The key to staying on top of your schoolwork is organization! By organizing your materials and syllabi into a system that makes sense for you, you can prevent future headaches and stress caused by—you guessed it—a disorganized workspace. Quickly find homes for all of your writing utensils and school supplies with a storage box that looks as good as it functions!
Organization isn’t purely a physical practice, however. You can easily stay on top of your schoolwork and deadlines by organizing your schedule in a planner or online calendar. We recommend going through your syllabus as soon as possible and making a note of every due date, deadline, and important dates, so that you will never be caught off guard by an assignment. Knowing when assignments are due is so important during the summer semester, as the heavy and intensive workload can creep up on you in a way that is dissimilar to the fall and spring semesters.
If your work zone allows for it, try hanging up this wall-mounted organization kit that features an erasable calendar and planner that will remind yourself to hold yourself accountable at every glance! Practicing organizational skills in both a physical and mental state will leave both your workspace and headspace clear of any clutter that would otherwise distract you from producing the best schoolwork that you possibly can!
Get your routine down (and stick to it)
Maintaining a regular routine provides a productive structure to your day.
Everyone seems to swear by it, but creating—and sticking to—a solid routine can be so challenging, especially in the classically unstructured summertime. If you’re taking summer classes, then now is a great time to create a routine that will work for your schoolwork and yourself.
Our suggestion? Don’t create too fanciful of a routine! If you know that you will never be able to muster up the strength to roll out of bed at 7:30 in the morning, then don’t try to! Creating a routine that works for you means that it works for you now, not for some future or improved you that you want to be. Try to keep your routine minimal at first—set a doable wake-up time, carve and designate a few hours out exclusively for schoolwork, and give yourself set times to take a break. If you find your original routine to be successful, then you can try to add a little more structure and rigor to it.
Routines are made to help you, not imprison you, so create one that doesn’t ask for too much of you, as you can only do so much. Don’t forget that you already have the discipline to take summer classes, which should be a cause for celebration enough!
Don’t be too hard on yourself
While getting good grades is important, try to do so by remaining kind to yourself.
It’s easy to lose sight of certain aspects of your life in the midst of a heavy workload week for your classes. However, just because you have a lot of work to get done, doesn’t mean you can punish yourself socially or emotionally to fulfill certain deadlines. While you hopefully will never be in a position where you feel unable to complete your schoolwork on time, stuff happens! Don’t beat yourself up over things that will affect you minimally in the long run. If you’re struggling with your coursework, reach out to your professor or one of your classmates to figure out how to put yourself back on a track of academic success!
To avoid the pitfalls of burnout or overexhaustion from your summer classes, always remember that YOU are the one who is in control of your wellbeing. Know when to put the book down, to close the computer, to give up on the math problem for the night. Sometimes a much needed break—try going for a walk, calling a friend, watching an episode of your favorite show, or taking a long shower—clears a stressed out state of mind that is detrimental for productivity and provides a headspace ready to resume the work that once felt impossible. We know it’s easier said than done, but it’s important to at least try focusing on yourself and becoming aware of your limits.
If you’re mistreating yourself, it will be almost impossible to complete what is required of your summer classes, because you are the tool that makes the work you do possible. Take care of yourself in order to sustainably manage your schoolwork, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t always be perfect! Remember it’s always better to just do the work rather than try to achieve perfection in every assignment and project.
With these tips at your helm, you should be well on your way to completing a successful summer semester with little to no bumps along the ride! It may be a bit daunting to begin with, but summer classes offer rich experiences to not only sharpen your work discipline but also teach you meaningful material and subject matter, all in the beautiful season that is summer. So, study up, but still remember to get outside when you can and soak up that summer sun (with sunscreen, of course)!