Summer is usually a time to get outside, enjoy the sunshine, and spend time with family and friends, whether you go to beaches, lakes, reservoirs, and rivers for fun-filled water activities, a visit with relatives, travel, or relax in the comforts of your own home. It may be summertime, but, many people are still in college, which means it is still a bit of a challenge to plan a getaway. That doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun, while also getting through your summer courses. 

Whether you’re a current student or a working adult who’s looking to change careers, this summer will be the ideal opportunity to pursue your college degree. Getting ahead on a few projects will help you be better prepared for your future, and it will help build your confidence as well. But saying it and doing it are two different things, and accomplishing your goals during the summer could be a challenge. The University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC) is here to offer tips to help you maximize this summer at home and be productive.

How to Stay Productive with Your Studies This Summer

When you become a UAGC student, you’re already a step ahead of many college students because our degree programs are specifically designed for distance learning. The classes are flexible and provide a convenient way to earn your degree while taking your studies just about anywhere, anytime. That means doing classwork at home, at a friend’s house, while waiting for your child at a dentist appointment, on your lunch hour, late at night, and anywhere in between. 

But with summer here, you may be a little distracted with thoughts of putting your studies on hold. Here are nine (9) tips to help stay productive with your studies and maximize the summer study sessions in style.

1. Find or become a mentor

Learning from someone with experience can help you in many ways, now and in the future. A good mentor can help you grow immensely by advising you on career direction, decision-making, establishing long-term goals, and determining actionable steps toward your goals. Connecting with leaders in your community, faculty, alumni, or even upperclassmen is a great place to start. You can do this in the UAGC Connections Facebook group, in several other UAGC groups, or you can ask your advisor.

Another option you can also turn to UAGC's CHAMPS Peer Mentoring program. This program matches new students who are adjusting to the demands of pursuing a college degree with high achieving, upper-division students to create a space for peer-to-peer mentorship that promotes student development and success.

Here are some additional ways on how to find (or be) a mentor. Once you have a mentor, you open yourself up to a new group of people to network with, and one of them might be the key to getting your next interview.

2. Study outside

Summer provides welcoming weather and the option of taking your learning outside in the morning or as the sunsets. Whether it’s on your porch, at the park, or the beach, studying outside can provide clarity and calmness. Just keep in mind that studying outside has pros and cons, and you should know when it’s time to bring the session back inside.

3. Work on your personal brand

Depending on where you are in your educational journey, it’s always a good idea to have your “brand” package — or at least your resume — ready to go now, rather than later. Your brand is simply what you do and how you communicate it. It starts with your resume, and could include a portfolio, website, personal blog, business cards, and of course, all your profiles in social media, including LinkedIn. You might even have professional photos or a professional video, depending on your career objectives. Your brand doesn’t need to be fancy. Remember, whatever you have out there that is public-facing should be professional, error-free, and reflect what makes you stand out from the crowd. 

This summer is an excellent time to work on building your brand. Here’s a list of brand-building essentials to help you get started:

  • A Career Services specialist can help you write a resume and offer feedback (just email [email protected])
  • Attend (online) networking events and meet new people (check out the UAGC Student Organizations)
  • Edit your online profiles and accounts to ensure they represent you professionally and start using your accounts to network with people in your field (now is the perfect time to take advantage of online social clubs (like the UAGC Early Childhood Education Club)
  • Create a portfolio of the work you’ve done and make sure people can see it (put it on your website)
  • Build a personal website (which is a great place to house your online portfolio)
  • Clean up your laptop, delete old pictures from your devices, and organize your emails

4. Focus on at least one aspect of your health

We all have an area we can work on when it comes to self-care, whether it’s our physical health, mental health, emotional health, or social well-being. Unlike a new year’s resolution or long-term goal, this summer, why not pick an area of well-being to focus on in a mini-way? After all, we already know that exercise can help you study!  This summer, choose one of these types of “mini” goals (or two, or three):

  • Lose five pounds
  • Journal once a week for a month
  • Go for a walk three times a week
  • Do homework at the same time every day
  • Reach out to someone on the phone weekly
  • Try one new form of exercise this summer
  • Schedule an appointment to see the dentist, doctor, etc.
  • Try a bedtime meditation or storytelling app on weeknights.

Once you decide what you want to do, write it down, and make notes on how you’re going to achieve your new mini goal — set reminders on your phone. Add dates to your calendar. Then post your goal where you’ll see it daily. Make an effort to complete your goal on time, and celebrate your accomplishment. Tell yourself you did a good job! Then move on to your next goal. By completing goals, you’re keeping yourself on track and staying productive, which means you’ll have more time in the day, and you’re building self-confidence along the way. 

5. Prepare for the next school year

No matter where you are in your program, it’s a good time to prepare for the next year.

  • Review your course schedule, and talk to your advisor if you ever have any concerns
  • Brush up on what you have learned in your previous classes
  • Organize your room; give your room a good cleaning this summer so you can have a fresh start for fall and beyond
  • Try to get rid of any notes or school projects that you won’t need to help de-clutter your space
  • Organize your files and delete unnecessary files on your devices, upgrade software, and perform necessary updates

6. Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community. It’s also an excellent way to spend some of your spare summer moments and could lead to you getting outside, going to a new location, or meeting new people. You can find volunteering opportunities online, in your community, or from other students and faculty. Volunteering gives you experience, but it also makes you feel great. It doesn’t have to be long-term or even a lot of work.

7. Challenge yourself to read three books

Reading fiction has been shown to increase intelligence, help cultivate empathy, and make you a more imaginative and well-rounded person.

When you create a summer reading list and follow through on it, you demonstrate to yourself that you can keep your commitments, and you also expand your emotional intelligence and areas of knowledge. You don't need to do it alone. A book club, with friends or online, can provide an added incentive to keep turning pages. You can mix nonfiction, how-tos, or serious academic literature with something silly and fun, such as a sci-fi or romance novel.

Whatever you do, turn off the TV and pick up a book instead. 

8. Support your study plan with hobbies

There's more to learning than rigor and discipline. Learning should also be done in a spirit of exploration, experimentation, and play. Thinking is most effective when it's fun. Stimulation and variety keep things interesting. Summer provides an opportunity to dig into areas of knowledge outside your academic focus.

Maybe you love cooking, gaming, producing music, or navigating different parts of your town. All of these are opportunities to follow your curiosity and keep your brain both active and engaged before or after a study session.

9. Make time to relax and take a break!

It’s OK! Take some time to relax and find time to do nothing. Your body will not only thank you but your mind will benefit from some downtime too. If you don’t have time to relax, at least make sure you’re taking adequate breaks. Remember, you don’t need to be perfect! But it is important to note that job-related burnout is not to be taken lightly, and academic burnout can be equally damaging to your progress, morale, and happiness. When you are enrolled in a course during the summer months, you can learn more and maintain your momentum. Just make sure you don't fall victim to the chronic stress that students often experience, especially if you're also working. Some signs of academic burnout include fatigue, anxiety, loss of appetite, anger, forgetfulness, and insomnia, among others.

By adding some or all of these steps to your routine now, you will be better prepared to tackle your summer studying with confidence and ease. With a clear mind, a clean study space, and an organized self-brand, you’ll be ready to take on the fall once you’ve conquered the summer!

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