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To Take Summer Break, Or Not

By Jenna Moede

Okay, let’s talk summer. If your social media looks anything like mine, you have seen college graduation photo after college graduation photo the past few weeks. This can only mean one thing, spring semester has finally ended.

Great! Except for everyone that hasn’t graduated yet. I remember this time of year always causing me a little confusion during my undergraduate studies.

I wanted to finish my degree quickly, but I also really, really, really needed a break.

I never took mine, and instead, I finished my degree on the fast track. It took me just a little over three years to finish my bachelors and my minor, and I didn’t take any breaks. Not one.

I worked every single summer, I took over full class loads every semester, and I kept pushing myself.

So of course I finished my degree pretty fast, but I also came dangerously close to burning myself out several times.

My point - you may need a break sometime during your college career, and I want to mention a few major pros and cons to taking one.

First, you may already be thinking about how much taking a summer vacation will slow down your ideal college timeline, and it might. Time really kept pushing me during my undergraduate studies.

You could also worry that taking a break will slow down the good momentum you have built up during the last semester. If it feels like the wrong time to take a break, you probably should keep moving on until you feel like you need one.

Just because you might work through this summer doesn’t mean that you can’t take the next summer off or take an extra week off somewhere else in your studies, but if you feel like stopping will cause your good roll to end, then you should work through this one, this time.

Lastly, I worried a lot that if I took the summer off, I would lose everything I learned in the previous semester. Repetition helps me remember information, and by always taking classes, I usually didn’t have time to forget the facts, theories and ideas that I had studied.  

During high school summer vacation, I swear science just fell out of my head, and I desperately didn’t want to repeat that happening during college.

If all of these drawbacks worry you, then you might need to press through the summer, but if only one concerns you, you might find that the benefits outweigh the cons.

So let’s examine those benefits.

First, a break will help you relax and rejuvenate. Classes demand a lot of our time, energy and positivity and it always seems so easy to put pressure on ourselves. Because of that, taking time off can help us let go of what has already happened in our educational career and move on with a brighter outlook.

It can also help jumpstart motivation. I think I’ve had senioritis at the end of every college semester, and a small break in the summer could have cured it. Going into a semester without motivation and excitement does not benefit any student.

Lastly, taking a small break gives you time to adjust your goals, reorganize your schedule and reprioritize your life. It can help shed light on some issues you’ve had with college in the past and can help you make positive changes that will affect you in the future.

If you can’t tell, I’m in favor of taking breaks over the summer, and I wish that I had during my studies.

Also remember that colleges typically schedule summer vacation into their school schedule.

Traditional 4-year campuses design their programs to take 4 years to complete with 2 semesters taken each year. Many students do take advantage of summer vacation and don’t view it as taking time off.

If you want to take a break over the summer, consider it a scheduled break and hit the ground running in the fall. 

If you feel that you have a good rhythm and don’t need a vacation, then keep chugging along and consider it next year, but if you fear you’re headed toward burning out, it can help you remember why you started and motivate you to keep pushing through each and every class.

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