When school lets out for summer, your first instinct may be to get out of the classroom. But leaving behind textbooks in favor of the beach could mean missing out on great opportunities to get ahead academically — and financially. Here are a few ideas to make good use of your summer break.
Hit the books
Summer can be a great time to knock out some of those core requirements for your degree. It’s also your chance to retake a class if you need to. Some students choose to get ahead by taking extra classes during the summer so they can graduate early. This can be a big money saver, as tuition for summer sessions is often much lower than for a full semester. If you can get enough credits during the summer, you could potentially shave a year off of your college tuition.
Looking to make your money go even further? Consider taking classes closer to home at a local university or community college. These options may come with the opportunity to live at home or lower tuition. Online classes are another choice. With online coursework, you can complete classes with the added freedom of choosing your own location and schedule. Just be sure to check ahead of time that your school allows transfer credits from the institution where you want to take classes.
Think outside the classroom
Getting class credit isn’t the only way to challenge yourself over the summer. Consider taking part in a school-sponsored trip or study abroad program. Be sure to plan ahead and look into what types of programs your university might offer well in advance. You may even qualify for financial aid packages depending on what your university provides. Not only are study abroad programs a great way to broaden your horizons culturally, but it’s also a way to bond with your professors if they’re leading a trip, all while receiving academic credit.
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 post-graduation.
Apply for scholarships
It’s never the wrong time to apply for scholarships that could help you pay for everything you need for school, from tuition to a semester’s worth of textbooks. Summer is a great time to buckle down, research, and apply for scholarships, since you will (hopefully) have more free time than during the school year. Use Tuition Funding Sources to search over 7 million scholarships, plus get advice from real scholarship recipients about how to find and land scholarships.
Bulk up your resume
Use summer to get a jumpstart 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 that you don’t have the patience to deal with children — steering you away from an education major.
Working a summer job has the added plus of helping to pad your finances for the upcoming semester. That extra cash could ease any financial concerns you might have about being able to afford text books 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 with making your saving automatic.
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.