How to Stay Motivated This Summer

By Algonquin College Modified on June 12, 2018

Don't lose your long-term purpose during summer!

No doubt, you remember when the words “summer break” meant a couple of months of freedom, fun, and the chance to forget about school.

Well, that was then, and this is now. And now means there’s no break from cash concerns, course planning, and career-related choices. It’s not that you need to forego all the fun. It’s just that summertime can also be a time to imagine your life beyond the classroom and outside the campus.

In other words, you don’t want to lose sight of your long-term purposes. And therein lies the notion of making your summer more productive than it might otherwise be. You have three, maybe four months available. What do you do with them?

Obviously, there can be numerous answers to that question, but at least three principles stand out for consideration:

    • Summertime is a good time to acquire the kind of experience you’re less likely to find in a classroom or school setting;
    • Don’t let the summer’s seeming lack of structure – no more classes, study sessions, exam preparation, etc. – dilute the skill and knowledge you’ve so far acquired;
    • And, finally, devote some time to yourself. Or, to put it differently, take some time to reflect on what you want to do with your education and, indeed, your life.

The point is, summers can be an opportunity to give yourself a bit of an edge by acquiring skills, experience, and knowledge that you won’t necessarily get in the classroom.

The College’s Student Support Services can help you on this first point. You can find positions on HireAC posted by local employers who are looking for Algonquin students. As well, information about preparing for a job is available on the Employment Support Centre’s website.

As Jeffrey Agate, Associate Director at Algonquin College’s Student Support Services points out, summer jobs, volunteer positions, and internships provide students with the opportunity “to learn more about the world of work and develop professional work habits and skills,” all of which can beef up a resumé.

As well, summer work, volunteering, and interning can give you a taste of the kind of work environment you like and, almost as important, what you dislike. That knowledge alone can help you narrow down your post-graduation career choices.

But another factor to consider is a phenomenon known as “summer learning loss.” Studies suggest that over the course of a summer students can lose at least a portion of what they’ve learned in the classroom. “On average, students’ achievement scores declined over summer vacation by one month’s worth of school-year learning,” according to one recent study. To be sure, many of these studies focus on school children, but there’s no reason to assume the academic skills of college-age students aren’t also prone to summer decline.

There are ways to offset learning loss, say educators. One of the better ways is to cultivate a reading habit. This could include books or online articles in your particular field or area of interest. This’ll help you retain – or recover – what you’ve already learned.

Setting a routine is also worthwhile. It’s easy to let a couple weeks of summer post-exam relaxation turn into months of sloth. One way to beat off this inclination is a daily regime of exercising, specific tasks, and setting small goals. The idea is to maintain the kind of mental discipline that allowed you to succeed in school.

Finally, amidst all this busyness and self-discipline, don’t forget to use the summer break to, well, give yourself a break – but one with purpose. Enjoy yourself, have some fun, but also take time to think about yourself – your goals and values, your capabilities, your strengths and weaknesses, what you want to do with your life.

A little bit of summer self-knowledge can go a long way in keeping you motivated and focused when you return to class in the fall.