Dear Summer Vacation,
I know that in the past we’ve shared great experiences trying to rid ourselves of school related stress and everything we were taught… but I have a confession to make. I really can’t believe I’m about to say this…but… If I’m going to have a smooth transition into this fall semester, we need to redefine our relationship and its boundaries. I’m sorry, but you’ll be happy to know that it’s not you, it’s me. I’m sure that you’ll rebound quickly and find someone else to be with, but it’s time for me to do what’s in my best interest.
Responsible College Student
*Cue Break-up Music*
*Facebook Relationship Status: It’s Complicated*
Let’s be honest: the majority of us who have graduated from college most likely didn’t have a conversation like this until the end of our Junior year – if not later. It’s much more likely that we did everything in our power to cast college and any strenuous mental activities out of our minds as soon as possible after our final-final exam. However, this is a case where I’m going to plead that you do as I say, not as I did.
If you would have told me as a kid that I would grow up to become the crazy guy who would say, “just because it’s summer vacation doesn’t mean you should stop learning”, I probably would have stared deeply into your soul questioning your sanity before turning, shaking my head, and returning my attention to the Pokémon I would soon capture on my Gameboy Color.
Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t mean for you to spend your entire summer doing more schoolwork. Rather, I would like to see more students keeping their brains sharpened enough to have a smooth transition into the fall semester; whether it’s your first or last semester at the collegiate level.
The Semester Olympics
Think of it this way: your brain is a muscle; and just like any other muscle that you use for intense, high-energy activities, you’ve got to keep it conditioned and performance ready.
Whenever you read or hear about how far in advance Summer Olympians begin intensive training for the next Olympic event, it probably seems like common sense for them to be doing so. To make things even more interesting, Summer Olympic events are once every four years, so there are roughly 1460 days between events. By the time the next event rolls around, most of you reading this will be done with your undergraduate studies.
Let’s assume that each semester is an Olympic event and TRUST me, professors are great at making them feel that way. Let’s also assume that the time between the spring and fall semesters represents the time between Olympic events. So, May 20-Aug 20, roughly the amount of summer vacation time you’ll have, is approximately 90 days. Let’s math (verb) for a second here:
Olympic Events = ~1460 days | Summer Vacation = ~90 days
1460/90 = ~16
Summer Vacation = 1/16 of the time between Olympic Events
You essentially have about 6% of the time as Olympians do to turn this,
…and yet you’ll wonder why trying to remember how to spell your first name is so hard when you start the fall semester.
Now, there may be those who would claim that their brains don’t have to work as hard as the Olympians train, but not all of us were born baby geniuses. So for those of us aboard the College Struggle Bus, it’s important to understand that feeding your brain with as much knowledge and thought as you do during the semester is an all-out sprint for a 5k race.
Slow and steady will most definitely not win the race when you have 5 different courses and each professor is packing their syllabus with everything that’s ever been said about a subject in the existence of ever. With that being said, however, you DO need to begin learning how to pace yourself. There will be times when you’ll have to run, Forrest, run; but there will also be times when you’ll have to chip away steadily at the mountains of work you’ve been so fortunate to receive.
If you’ve ever gone running with your runner friends and tried staying on pace with them the whole time, then you’ve also had the closest thing to a near death experience most of us will ever have. Thinking that you can just show up without preparation for the Semester Olympics and not need a water break every 3 steps, well think again.
So…How Do I Exercise My Brain, Marcus?
Well, I’m so glad that you asked! There are all kinds of ways to keep your brain in shape during the summer. Here are some of the general recommendations that I’ll give to my students:
Books (Deep Reading)
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
- How to Become a Straight-A Student
- Motivation and Learning Strategies for College Success
- This last one is a bit more “academic” in tone. You’ve been warned!
Blogs (Light Reading)
- The College Study Struggle
- Did you think I wouldn’t recommend it?!
- Hack My Study
- How to Study in College
I’ll Stop Lecturing You Now (Why am I so Punny?)
Anytime someone recommends a new way of staying mentally active that doesn’t involve reading Plato’s Republic cover-to-cover (sorry philosophers), try them out. You may find yourself secretly enjoying the exercise and stimulation you get from them.
On that note, time to for me to go dust off that old Gameboy Color and show the world who the real Pokémon Master is.
Follow me on Twitter @MarcusEppsSays
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