Top strategies to help get ahead this summer

Summer opportunities to get ahead academically

Check out these ideas to help get ahead academically and financially while school is out.

When school lets out for summer, your first instinct may be to spend the next few months relaxing after a busy semester, but the summer can be a great time to get ahead academically — and financially. Here are a few ideas to make the most of your summer break. 

Continue your coursework

Summer can be a great time to get ahead on your degree by knocking out some of your core requirements or retaking a class if you need to. By taking classes during the summer, you may even be able to graduate early. This could save you some money since tuition for summer sessions is often much lower than if you attend a full semester; there may even be scholarships or work-study programs available to help you pay for your summer session. Check with your financial aid office to see what programs your university offers.  

If you’re looking to make your money go even further, consider taking classes closer to home at a local university or community college. Both of these options may come with the opportunity to live at home, if you don’t already or pay lower tuition. Online classes from your current or a different school are another choice that can give you the freedom to choose your location and schedule, as well as potential access to subjects you can’t find during other school terms. Just be sure to check ahead of time that your school allows transfer credits from the institution where you want to take classes. 

Get real-world experience

Use your summer to get a jump-start on your future. Consider completing an internship or summer job, both of which will help your resume stand out come graduation. Many immersive internship opportunities are paid, so you can improve your job prospects while also making money during the summer. 

Besides internships, summer jobs can be a useful indicator of what majors or future jobs you may enjoy. For example, helping out with admin tasks in a local office may show you have a knack for accounting or writing. Or working at a summer camp might teach you if you like working with children, leading you to consider an education major.

Working a summer job has the benefit of helping to pad your finances for the upcoming semester. That extra cash could ease some financial concerns you might have about being able to afford textbooks and late-night frozen yogurt runs. Just make sure you have a strategy in place to save your money — tools like direct deposit and automatic transfer can be particularly helpful for making your saving automatic. 

Think outside the classroom

Taking college classes isn’t the only way to get ahead over the summer. Certification courses are an affordable alternative to for-credit classes. Earn a tech certification in cybersecurity, finish a sales skills program, or get another type of specialized license that could make you a more attractive applicant in your future career field. These types of qualifications can strengthen your resume and can give you a boost to jump into a field more easily postgraduation. 

Apply for scholarships

You could also use your summer vacation to apply for scholarships to help you pay for everything you need for the upcoming semester. Since you may have more free time than during the school year, you can spend that time researching and applying for scholarships that could finance anything from tuition to textbooks.

Travel internationally

This one requires some planning, but you could consider taking part in a school-sponsored trip, enrolling in a study abroad program, or traveling with a volunteer-based organization. Not only will you want to explore what types of programs your university offers, but you should also check to see if you qualify for a financial aid package to help finance the trip. These types of programs are a great way to broaden your horizons culturally; check with your International Programs office to see if you may be able to receive academic credit for your time overseas.  

Whether you’re hitting the books hard this summer or making a little extra cash, use these strategies to make the most of your summer opportunities. 

Want to read more about managing your senior year tasks?

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