Does summer break prep for back to school success or burn-out?

Despite competitive job market, students should use summer vacation to relax, recharge and explore personal projects

When summer vacation starts this week, many students will jump for joy as they look forward to the long-awaited days of sleeping in, chilling on the couch and seeing old friends.

Yet, what other students anticipate is a summer of full-time jobs, summer school classes, internships, studying abroad and more. While it may be tempting to get ahead during summer, students should be taking a true break during the summer months instead.

Because the job market has become more competitive, worried high school/college students find themselves taking on more activities during the summer in order to bulk up their resumes and retain an edge in the present job market. Summer vacation is not a vacation at all anymore.

Despite the push to bulk up resumes and become more competitive in the job market, what students really need to focus on during the summer months is taking a break from the usual stress and work. Summer vacation should be just that, a vacation free of class and work.

Unfortunately for many, tuition increases and high living expenses force most students to find work during the summer. Working full-time gives students money to use for school, yet the daily grind of working every day has not allowed many to relax at all. Given the opportunity, many would use their free time to start taking classes at a local community center for hobbies and courses of real interest. An opportunity such as this might have been more worthwhile than the pressure of having to work a full-time job.

Relaxing during summer break is important because it allows students to recharge for the fall quarter. After a stressful year of nonstop work, students who choose not to take the summer off will find themselves burnt out and less motivated during the regular academic year.

A summer break also helps relieve some of the pressure experienced during the academic year. Students not pressured by midterms, term papers and final exams are free to explore personal projects at their own pace during the summer. Personal ventures, such as an art project meant to be completed a while ago, or a book that has sat on a shelf waiting to be read, can be just as enriching as structured class.

Free time helps foster creativity often overlooked during the regular school year and makes individuals more well-rounded. Pursuing personal interests such as dancing, sculpting or graphic design ventures out of one’s own free will and on one’s own time can be even more worthwhile than sticking to the structured regime of classes and internships. These projects will shine on resumes as they exhibit true passion and interest on the individual’s part.

Students that load on the work during summer vacation also often find themselves focusing on simply meeting requirements and getting through the workday and class material, rather than focusing on doing a good job and absorbing the lessons of the day.

Students that work harder during summer may find themselves falling victim to the monotonous daily grind of completing assigned tasks. With no break, work and school become nothing more than something to complete rather than something to experience fully and learn from.

As unexpected as it may seem, students would benefit more by focusing on themselves during the summer, working on personal projects and simply relaxing. Being a couch potato during the summer is not such a bad thing after all.

This column is by Ritchie Lucas, founder of The Student Success Project and previously Think Factory Marketing. He can be reached at 305-788-4105 or via email at, and on Facebook and YouTube as The Student Success Project.

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