Victor Views on Balancing Summer Break and Academics

A scenic picture of Lake Michigan at sunset from the Sleeping Bear Dunes from my 2023 summer trip with the author's friends, while taking summer classes at Michigan!

Balancing Summer Break and Academics 

The eternal summer struggle: classes, internships, clinical hours, standardized tests, research, and probably many more that I cannot think of. It’s like the sun is mocking us from outside. However, we can still take back our summer with a lovely balance! I am struggling, too, with this balance; however, with two summers filled with chemistry classes, I think I’ve found some good strategies. 

My number one tip would be to schedule your week on a calendar, with everything you have going on. This would include your academic schedule and things that must be completed by the end of the week. In my example, I have my class, research, and my job schedule in my Google Calendar. Then, I add homework assignments and general things I have to complete under “Tasks.” Having a schedule down can help you navigate your busy summer! And if your friends want to hangout, you now know what days are busy for you because of classes/job or studying. When it comes to summer classes, if I have an exam a week before, I reduce my hangouts with friends or make them shorter hangouts. When I am done with an exam, I hangout more frequently to alleviate the stress and to enjoy my break! The best way to balance your friends and academics is to prioritize your goals and schedule your hangouts around those hours.  

Self-care is so important during this time. When you have free time, just doing things that you love by yourself or with family and friends can make your summer more fun. One of my favorite things to do is walking with my friends in my neighborhood. It helps me alleviate my stress and just connect with my friends and see what they are up to! (Studies show that even brief walks can boost creative inspiration and mood.) Another favorite thing for me is to explore restaurants with my loved ones, so I usually plan a dinner or a lunch with friends or family. Of course, I love to watch TV and the promise of binge watching a show helps me look forward to something at the end of the day! 

What if you try to bring some fun to studying? Studying with friends and even studying outside can help you breathe a little more easily, instead of feeling like you are stuck in a room or library alone. When my friends and I are studying together, we have a little schedule. If we study for 45 minutes, we can talk for 10 minutes. It makes you feel like you are doing what needs to be done, but you’re also having a little fun doing it with your friends by your side. (See: The Pomodoro Technique: An Effective Time Management Tool.)

Don’t let your ship sink! Loading too many academic goals and activities on deck can be very overwhelming and stressful. At the end of the day, summer should also be a relaxing break from an even more busy fall and winter. So, take this break! It is okay that you are not doing ten things at once! This is something that I struggle with balancing. I feel guilty for not doing 100% of the things that I think I “should be '' doing during the summer, but at the end of the day taking care of myself  is the most important thing. Summer should feel stress free, so that you can study and still have fun hanging out all day out in the sun and, of couse, traveling!