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 cannot 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 will be happy to know that it’s not you, it’s me. I’m sure that you will rebound quickly and find someone else to be with, but it’s time for me to do what is 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 did not have a conversation like this until the end of our junior year, if not later. We likely 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 an instance where I am 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 someone who would say, “you should not stop learning simply because it’s summer vacation.”, I 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.
Do not misunderstand me, I do not 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 acts as a muscle; like any other muscle that you use for intense, high-energy activities, you must keep it conditioned and performance ready.
If you were to read/hear about how far in advance Summer Olympians begin intensive training for the next Olympic event, it would be unlikely that you would be surprised by it. To make things even more interesting, Summer Olympic events are once every four years, meaning there are roughly 1460 days between events. By the time the next event rolls around, many of you reading this will be finished with your undergraduate studies or nearing the end.
Let’s assume that each semester is an Olympic event (believe 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 will have, is approximately 90 days. Let’s math (verb) for a second here:
Olympic Events = ~1460 days | Summer Vacation = ~90 days
1460/90 = ~16 days
Summer Vacation = ~1/16 of the time between Olympic Events
You essentially have ~7% of the time as Olympians do to turn Figure 1,
into Figure 2,
As that soaks in you will begin to understand why remembering 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 do not have to work as hard as an Olympian trains, however, not all of us were born baby geniuses. So for those of us aboard the Study Struggle Bus, it is important to understand that keeping your brain fed during the summer will help eliminate the feeling that the fall semester is an all-out sprint during a 5k race.
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.
Slow and steady will most definitely not win the race when you enter the fall with 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. Try not to confuse this with pacing yourself; the ability to pace yourself is a skill that is imperative to make it through your four years of undergrad. There will be times during the semester when you will have to run, Forrest, run; but there will also be times when you will have to chip away steadily at the mountains of work you have been so fortunate to receive.
So… How Do I Exercise My Brain, Marcus?
Well, I am so glad that you asked! There are many ways to keep your brain in shape during the summer; I will list some of my favorites below:
- How to Become a Straight-A Student
- Teach Yourself How to Learn
- Motivation and Learning Strategies for College Success
- The last suggestion is a textbook; you have been warned.
At times, I will recommend students to try out some of the more “controversial” brain training apps for smart devices, such as Lumosity and Brain Yoga. They are interesting apps that are fun and keep your brain entertained and engaged.
I’ll Stop Lecturing You Now (I’m Too Punny)
Stop lecturing… because it’s summer… get it?
Anytime someone recommends a new way of staying mentally active that does not involve reading Plato’s Republic cover-to-cover (sorry philosophers), try them out. You may find yourself secretly enjoying the mental exercise and mental 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.
source: featured image