13 Productive Summer Ideas for College Students

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Last Updated on March 26, 2024 by Alexandra Markin

With summer approaching, now is the time to make a plan for how you’ll spend your time away from your studies. While it’s important to carve out time to relax, brainstorming productive ideas to do this summer sets up college students for success.

If you’re wrapping up exams and wondering “How can I make my summer productive?” this post is for you!

From strategically getting ahead in your studies, strengthening your resume or building an effective morning routine, here is a list of ideas to have a productive summer as a college student.

Productive Things to do in the Summer for College Students

Some students just want to have fun and relax at the beach during summer break, while others feel the need to be productive and get ahead.

Bookmark this post if you’re asking yourself any of these questions:

  • How can I make my summer college productive?
  • What productive things can I do over the summer?
  • What should students do over the summer?
  • How do I not waste summer break?
  • How can I have a productive summer without an internship?
  • How do you stay motivated on summer break?

Scroll through the list below or jump to any section that interests you.

1. Prepare a Study Plan for the Upcoming Semester

Summer is the perfect time to reflect on what study techniques went well and what needs improvement.

One thing I did that really improved my time management was to create a study planner for each of my courses.

Breaking down each module in detail and assigning a date for each learning activity really helped me improve my grades and stay on track – especially since all my courses were self-directed.

Or, maybe you need to learn about new study techniques you can try, such as the pomodoro technique or active recall.

2. Organize Your Study Space and Supplies

To be among the most successful students, you need to be prepared and organized.

Clean and organize your study space and take inventory of your supplies. If you’re just starting with distance learning or have completed your first course as an online student but still don’t feel totally prepared, review the 14 must have school supply items for online college.

Summer is also a great time to get on Instagram and look at at inspirational study desk setups!

3. Secure an Internship

If your discipline requires an internship or would benefit from having an optional one, summer is the perfect time to put your skills to work.

Or, spend the summer generating a list of potential internships you want to pursue in the fall. You can even start drafting your application or touring areas of where you want to work.

Want to work in the financial district of your city? Spend a few days getting to know the main buildings, their names and addresses, and what other amenities are nearby. Seek out the most popular coffee shops and restaurants, and figure out the transit routes in the area you’re aiming to work.

4. Get a Job

As a classically productive thing to do in the summer for college students, getting a job will increase your bank account along with your experience.

School is costly, so saving up in the summer can really help when it’s time to pay your next round of tuition.

Pair your summer job income with a few creative ways to save money as an online student to really improve your financial position.

5. Work on Your LinkedIn Profile

If you plan on using a LinkedIn profile to help you look for future employment opportunities, use the summer to brush up your professional presence.

New to LinkedIn? It can be a bit of a learning curve! Use your time free from studying to learn the platform, build your profile and follow others who could be of help to you in the future.

6. Volunteer

If you’re thinking “Why would I spend my time volunteering for free when I could be working a summer job?” Having volunteer experience on your resume can give you a leg up on your post graduate application or future employment.

Other benefits of volunteering allow you to meet new friends, learn new things and network with like-minded individuals who could help you advance in your career. Each time you volunteer yields new opportunities. Often times you receive a nominal payment, such as a free ticket to the event you’re working.

Charities, community events and fundraisers are always in need of volunteers. Or, choose something related to your major to gain hand-on experience.

Really want to travel this summer? Investigate travel volunteer opportunities through credible companies like Volunteer Abroad and combine this productive summer activity with your travel dreams.

7. Study Abroad

Another way to combine travel while having a productive summer is to study abroad.

The UBC Vancouver campus rose garden with a view of the mountains and Straight of Georgia in the background.
The Rose Garden at the University of British Columbia Vancouver campus.

See if your university has an exchange program, or you can design your own trip while being careful the credits you take overseas transfer into your current program.

Studying abroad pushes you out of your comfort zone by forcing you to take calculated risks, developing your independence and becoming well-traveled – all skills studying in your living room can’t provide.

You never know – maybe you’ll love it more than your home country and want to move! Nothing expands your horizons more than travelling.

8. Explore the Campuses of Other Colleges in Your City

I’m a big fan of exploration. One of my favourite things to do as a student is to check out the campuses of other colleges nearby.

Libraries and common areas of any university are essentially community study hubs – you don’t have to be a student there to take advantage of these common spaces. Just go during their open hours and you should be able to wander quite freely.

Take note of inspirational locations you want to study at during your semester.

Studying in the grand atrium of The Chapman Learning Commons at the The Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, even though I wasn’t a UBC student.

Most students don’t know what’s in their own backyard – explore and uncover hidden opportunities!

9. Take a Trip

Use your time off to collect some passport stamps!

Whether your dream trip is to travel Europe, explore your own country or take a road trip, travel is one of the best fun and productive summer ideas for college students.

Expand your horizons and enrich your knowledge of the world by exploring different cultures. Even stopping at small towns en route to your destination during a road trip will give you a different perspective on life.

If you’re travelling internationally or taking flights, check out online travel agencies that offer student discounts, such as StudentUniverse.

10. Check Off a Bucket List Item

We all have a bucket list. But are you actively working on it? Take this summer to check something off, no matter how big or small.

Need some inspiration? I’ve put together a list of 101 summer bucket list ideas for college students that includes adventurous, outdoor, budget and even at-home activities.

11. Find a New Hobby (or Rekindle an Old One)

It’s so important as a student to maintain a study-life balance, and that includes making time for hobbies that enrich your life.

Use this summer to start (or resume) a hobby you can continue into the school year. If you’re stuck for ideas, check out these posts:

12. Develop a Morning Routine

It’s easy to get off track in the summer: sleeping in, slacking on skincare, eating a non-balanced diet and skimping on exercise.

While it’s good to loosen up a bit in the summer, getting totally off-track can ruin your productivity come fall.

The schedule of an online student can look quite different from a traditional college student, and it can be difficult to get into a productive routine.

Summer is the perfect time to experiment – try different things that help you start your day off right. For a list of things to include in a morning routine, take a look at the post best morning routine for online university students.

13. Make a Reading List

Reading both fiction and non-fiction can help you become a more well-rounded person.

Take the summer to create your reading list and get a head start on the books you want to read this year.

Try and read a book related to the field you’re studying. For example, if you’re studying business and are leaning towards entrepreneurship, reading a book like All In by Arlene Dickinson will help give you some real world perspective.

Productive Summer Ideas for College Students – Conclusion

The key to having a productive summer is to start planning early and have a strategy of attack in place before your classes end.

Summer is halfway through the year, and a perfect time to reassess your goals you wrote down in January.

Avoid overwhelm by keeping your list short. Start with three things and if you finish them before summer is over you can always add more.

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