10 Ways for Students to Maximize Their College Summer Break

Male student on hammock during college summer break

Is it just us, or is summer is flying by? Take a moment to pause and reflect on how your college summer break has gone so far. Did you imagine you would be more productive, or alternatively, get more time to relax? If you had different expectations, or just feel like time is getting away from you, try out these ten tips to make the most of your summer vacay. 

1. Apply Yourself at Your Job or Internship 

First, consider yourself lucky if you landed a summer internship or job. Even though it might not seem like it now, any employment opportunity is a valuable experience for your future. Maybe your internship isn’t what you expected or you feel like you’re just working as a server or retail worker (i.e., it’s not important). You might also be getting restless with the end of summer nearing so you aren’t putting in as much effort. 

We’re here to tell you—don’t phone it in. Apply yourself and do your best work. Not only are you honing your work ethic, but you’ll need employment references later in life. Supervisors or managers won’t give glowing reviews to lazy young adults. 

2. Save Money 

Even if you have a part-time job during the semester, college summer break gives you full-time availability. Take advantage of the opportunity to make and save some money. It’s always nice to have a financial cushion for unexpected expenses or even to start building your nest egg for adult life. Use this last part of summer vacay to ramp up your work and make extra cash before you head back to Tiger Town.

Get a Side Hustle 

If you don’t have a job that allows you to work more or you have an unpaid internship, consider taking on a side hustle. There are many on-demand job options out there and not just Uber or Lyft driving. Freelance projects are another excellent opportunity to pick up work here and there to make extra money. Many companies even need remote virtual assistance that you can do around your current schedule. Use these websites to find side-hustles that fit with your experience and availability:

  • Upwork: for freelance work, mostly professional jobs and projects
  • Fiverr: another freelance job board 
  • Wag! or Rover: Dog-walking or -sitting platforms for animal lovers
  • TaskRabbit: Run errands around your neighborhood for cash 
  • PeoplePerHour: A platform that matches companies that have different projects/jobs and qualified freelancers 

3. Tackle a Project You’ve Been Putting Off 

Have you been meaning to do something for ages and just never gotten around to it? Well, this college summer break is your chance! Take stock of old to-do lists and find projects you haven’t had time to take on and commit to finishing it by the time school starts. It can be something as simple as completing a puzzle or creating unique art pieces to hang in your new student apartment in Clemson this year. 

4. Read for Pleasure 

With so much course-related reading and studying for your classes, the last thing you want to do is pick up a book for fun. Use this study-detox time during the summer to read for fun! Here’s are a few lists for inspiration: 

5. Research 

We know, we know, you don’t want to do homework on your college summer break. But how often during the school year have you found yourself distracted (by Google or Reddit) when you should be studying? Now’s the time to get that out of your system. Use your free afternoons to research fun things you’re curious about or productive queries relating to your future. 

Use this list for suggestions and get Googling: 

  • Post-grad career options: What jobs actually entail (duties and responsibilities), starting salaries, which companies are hiring, etc.  
  • Part-time jobs: for during the semester. (Psst! We’re hiring at Epoch, check out our open positions).
  • Classes: Which courses do you want to take second semester? Use this time to really explore all the options Clemson offers. 
  • New exercise or fitness programs: The internet has a wealth of fitness and wellness programs with unlimited free content—find and try out options that you like.
  • Extracurriculars, clubs or Intramural sports: Research options and load up your schedule with fun and relevant activities.  
  • Grad school: This is an area where much research is necessary if you’re considering a post-grad program or degree. 

6. Work on Professional Development 

Whether you’re a rising senior or just want to get a jump start, there’s no time like the present to work on your professional development. Take some time to create or polish up your LinkedIn profile, adding relevant experience, and connecting with other students/professionals. 

Consider attending networking events or mixers. Building a robust network is an invaluable resource as you progress your career. Daniel B. Kline, a writer and editor for the Boston Globe, tells Fool.com: “In many fields, it’s not about your grade point average or even what you learned. Instead, you need connections to get started and it’s never too early to start making those.”

Also, consider cleaning up your general digital presence. Did you know the 70 percent of employers use social media to pre-screen candidates before they even interview them? Spend an afternoon Googling yourself to see what comes up and delete any embarrassing/inappropriate pictures from social media.

7. Book a Last Minute Trip 

You still have time to travel! Book a last minute trip before you come back to school. Resources like HotelTonight can help you find cheap unbooked lodgings. We also have some travel tips in our spring break post that can be useful. Alternatively, if you want to take a local road trip, check out these fun weekend-friendly spots that are super close to Clemson. 

8. Volunteer For a Cause

Use the last bits of summer to volunteer for a cause or organization that’s near and dear to your passions or interests. Even a few afternoons can make a huge difference and give you some perspective on your good fortune before returning to school. Check out this list of volunteer opportunities to find options near you. 

9. Bolster Your Meal Prep Game

If you’re moving into a student apartment this fall, odds are you’re cooking for yourself and it might be your first time. Take time over the college summer break to not only learn how to cook some basic meals but learn how to prep. Meal prepping can save you time and sanity when you have a busy student schedule and need some easy meals on the go. Here’s a great guide to meal-prepping complete with links to several different recipes to try. 

10. Relax!

Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget to relax! Take some time for downtime. We all know the hustle and bustle of college can leave us drained and stressed. Don’t overcommit yourself and forget that vacation is also your chance to recharge before a new school year. 

Don’t worry, there’s still time to enjoy your college summer break! 

While summer certainly goes by fast, don’t freak out, there’s still plenty of time left to enjoy your vacay. If you happen to be spending this summer at Clemson, check out our list of fun things to do in Tiger Town.