College Student Tips: How to Make the Most of Your Summer Break

You’ve finished your finals, packed up your dorm room, and drove off into the sunset (or down the street if you live close to your school).

After nine months of late night study sessions and endless lectures, you probably feel like doing nothing that requires an ounce of brain activity for the next few months.

I can’t blame you for that!

But as great as it might seem to veg out on the couch day after day all summer, the truth is that there are much better things you could be doing to not only get your head back in the right place, but to prepare for the next school year as well.

Here are some of my top college student tips for making the most of your summer break:

Plan an Enjoyable Trip or Activity

You deserve some time to de-stress and do something you enjoy.

While some college students are great at getting away during the summer, others feel like they can’t get away due to a lack of funds.

Thankfully, there are plenty of low-cost and free options to choose from!

For example, you could:

  • Play sand volleyball, flag football, or another fun sport at a local park every week
  • Take a day trip to a nearby lake or beach to soak up some rays and BBQ
  • Visit the pool/water park
  • Go for a hike
  • Take on a DIY project (Pinterest inspo, anyone?)
  • Workout with a friend
  • Have an impromptu photo shoot
  • Read a book that doesn’t relate to school

Apply for Upcoming Internships

If you plan on participating in an internship next school year, you’ll probably want to start looking at companies accepting internships and when the applications are due.

Since the field can be competitive, some companies complete their application process months out so they have time to process everything and interview their top candidates.

If you’re not at the point where you’re ready to apply for an internship, it would be great to substitute this step for resume and cover letter development!


Volunteering is one of the best ways to get work experience (and potential references) without committing a ton of time.

With so many different organizations and positions to choose from, the odds are good that you’ll be able to find something that not only fits your interests, but your schedule as well.

Get Into a Routine

During the school year, you probably got yourself into some sort of routine by going to classes, activities, etc.

Unfortunately, summers make it all too tempting to fall out of a routine, and that could create trouble when you have to go back to school in the fall.

Essentially, you want to set up a comfortable wake up time and bedtime each day to help keep your body on a consistent schedule. Don’t worry – you can still have those late weekend nights!

Even if you work on creating a consistent schedule over the last month of summer break, you’ll have a much easier time adjusting when you go back to school. My pro tip would be to start matching your wake up times and bedtimes to what they’ll be like during school about a month before you go back.

So, if I had a 9 a.m. class, I might want to start waking up at 7:30 a.m. and going to bed at 11 p.m. each day. To prepare my body for this schedule, I’ll start going to bed at 11 and waking up at 7:30 Monday-Friday for the last few weeks of the summer.

I know this helped me A TON and I found that I had a much easier time getting into the groove of school when I used this approach.

[RELATED] Establishing a Perfect Morning Routine: 7 Ways to Start Your Day Right

Meet Up With Friends and Family

If you went to a school far away from family and friends, odds are that you have some catching up to do! Take some time to schedule lunch and dinner dates or trips to see your loved ones so that you can catch them up on all your school year excitement and find out what has been going on in their lives as well.

Start a Savings Plan

Summers can be a serious budget killer, especially when you are getting invited to go out left and right.

To help keep yourself on track, start making a weekly and/or monthly budget so that you know exactly how much money you have to spend. This is a great skill to learn and will be a major help when you graduate and enter the real world.

Here’s a free college student budget template to help you out!

Reflect, Adjust, and Conquer

We all have improvements to make and I’m sure you noticed a few things throughout the school year that didn’t necessarily work in your favor (*clears throat* pulling an all-nighter so you could cram for an exam).

Take some time to reflect on those things that didn’t work (try coming up with at least three), write them down, and then problem solve some solutions that you could try next semester.

If it helps, you might want to make this into a chart or some type of visual that you can bring with you back to campus. Try posting it on a wall near or desk or somewhere that you’ll see frequently. The constant reminder should help you to adjust your habits and conquer the setbacks you faced!

Prepare Yourself For The Job Market

Time at college will pass quickly. It is only a few years at most, and it’s always over too soon. 

Summer vacation is a rare period in which you have ample free time to pursue other projects, whatever they happen to be.

First, you’ll want to look through some executive resume templates and adapt your CV to them. Sure, you might not quite be at the executive stage yet, but it gives you a good idea of what you’re aiming for? 

Next, you’ll want to consider what additional skills you need outside of your academic education. For instance, do you need to learn how to use a particular piece of software?

Finally, think about your soft skills – how you communicate with people. Are these up to scratch or do you need to refine them?

And Finally, Have Fun!

I know it goes without saying, but sometimes we get so caught up in our busy lives that we let the time fly by without actually do things that we enjoy.

If you’re a visual person, try creating a summer bucket list! If you have a lot of people you want to hang out with during your break, try finding a buddy for each activity. This is a great way to catch up AND have fun all at the same time!

What are some your favorite ways to spend summer break?

College student tips and ideas for a productive summer break. Build your job skills, learn about a career, enjoy your relationships, and more with these thought starters. #college #summer

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  • The Smart Student
    July 14, 2016 at 3:19 am

    Very inspiring article! You have given me great ideas to have the best summer. Good job 🙂

  • Irene Fenswick
    September 15, 2016 at 11:46 am

    Thanks for such great post on making the summer more productive! I liked every single one of your tips. Especially I completely agree with you on being sticky to the study schedule two weeks before the summer actually ends. As it’s a disaster to have the wrong biorhythms.

    The idea of having summer as time devoted to self-improvement and development is quite excellent. Students are able to chart their own schedule according to which they can manage the process and progress in particular. Nobody dictates the rules and terms. The only thing is needed – a desire to become better. Thanks again for sharing your post, Tori!