Surviving the Stress of Summer School

 

 

 

 

 As all of you in Summer School have realized, cramming a semesters worth of information into five weeks makes the class seem more hectic than normal.  Seeing pictures of family and friends out enjoying the summer at the beach, lake, or basically anywhere but school can add on to the stress you might be feeling.  It is important not to let stress overwhelm you during the summer.  Stress can not only affect your performance in school, but is a major health risk factor.  So what can you do to lessen and relieve the stress of Summer School?

Plan out Your Week

You already know when you are going to be in class each day; you should also plan out when you are going to do work for that class.  All classes are not equal; some classes only require an hour or two outside of class each week, while others take an extra 10-15. If you plan accordingly for each class and keep to the schedule you shouldn’t find yourself cramming the night before an exam or pulling an all-nighter because you waited until the last day to write a 10-page paper.  Falling behind a class normally can be very worrisome, in the summer it can almost feel detrimental.  Doing work daily for classes, even when none is assigned can put you ahead of the curve for these fast paced classes.  I know the prospect of setting aside a block of time each day for the sole purpose of doing classwork doesn’t sound too appealing, but once you get into the habit of doing so the benefits will prove themselves to be worth the trouble.

While it may seem kind of obvious, some people may forget to plan in breaks.  Don’t make your schedule CLASS, CLASS, WORK, WORK, or you will drain yourself every day and may not have energy to do other things afterwards that you may want to do – like playing basketball, working out, reading a book for leisure, or just watching some TV.  Schedule a break in between sessions to give your mind some time to rest up for the next class or work session.  In my first summer session I had a break scheduled in after my first class and went over to the music building to play some piano before my next class would begin, or over to the library to catch up on some reading.  Some days this break was even used for a little powernap.  No matter how I used them, these little breaks really made a difference in my next class.

Set Aside Time for Fun

While you are first and foremost in school over the summer doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the good parts of summer as well.  Being out in Greenville, you are not too far away from the beach to go out and enjoy a weekend, or even just a day enjoying the sun, sand, and sea.  Even if you don’t make it out to the beach you can still make it to a pool if you are in the mood for swimming.   Throughout June and July Greenville also hosts Sundays in the Park, a series of free concerts at Greenville Toyota Amphitheatre with a wide variety of artists scheduled in the summer.  Even if these ideas aren’t your cup of tea, plan something a little more your style.  Give yourself something to look forward to.  If the only thing you see in front of you all summer long is class after class, day after day, you can find yourself drained of energy, enthusiasm, and personality.  Giving yourself something to look forward to can reenergize you, especially the closer it gets – the feeling of “Nothing can bring me down today, I’m going to the beach tomorrow!” (Insert a happy dance here if you want to).   Summer school doesn’t have to completely rob you of your summer, so don’t let it.

 

Set a Goal

Mike Doherty recently wrote a post about the students relaxing this summer where he encourages them to learn a new skill, but the same advice can be applied here.  Set aside time to learn something you want to learn.  If you have wanted to learn a new skill, set aside a little time to learn the new skill, whether it’s JAVA, an instrument, or a new language, give yourself some time to do it.  You can also give yourself a challenge for the summer.  Doing a workout like Insanity or P90X is challenging but it is really rewarding when all is said and done.   Even if your goal is to finish a video game, puzzle, or any other little project you may have going, giving yourself something to work towards outside of class can really help maintain sanity throughout the summer.

Summer school is tough and there is no question about that, but there are ways to beat the scholastic heat and keep level headed throughout these sessions.  The main idea is to not let school be the only thing you live for over the summer.  It is still very important to work and study hard for your classes, but give yourself a life outside of school and summer will still be worth looking forward to every year.

 

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School’s out for Summer. Now What?

School’s out for Summer, which means for many of us we are free from the heavy schedule confines school gives us. It is, for many, a time to breathe and unwind for the first time since August. There are, however, those of us that the idea of relaxing indefinitely all Summer is extremely unappealing. Summer can be an amazing time to take advantage of, and create a more well-rounded education for yourself. You are no longer bogged down by the overly complicated group projects, internships and jobs that carry us through the school year. Summer can be a time to grow yourself in various areas that are applicable to your major by learning a skill, or reaching goal you have wanted to accomplish for some time. My challenge to you this Summer is to learn something and become something this Summer that you may not have previously known. Take any down time you may have, and turn it into a positive step towards creating a stronger future. Below are some suggestions for creating a contingent learning experience throughout Summer.

Summer Job

Summer is not fun without spending money. Try getting a job in something you may have little experience in, such as waiting tables if you have done mostly retail, working as an administrative assistant if you have had predominantly customer service type jobs. Learning new skills through different jobs is an amazing way to see first-hand the variety of ways different industries are run. Every industry has an intricate business model that varies greatly.

Ask questions as to why your company makes a certain decision, inquire about the financial reasoning behind their possibly strange seeming strategic decisions. Learning about the financial reasoning behind a variety of business’ strategic movements creates a broader understand of how businesses work in the real world, as opposed to reading about it or taking an exam on it. It also allows for more innovation and out of the box thinking in future jobs. Creating a basis of financial and customer understanding within a business is key in the operation of any business.

Internship

Summer is a great time to take on an internship or apprenticeship. When going to a networking event, there are going to be many students and professionals with your major, who will be dressed the same as you, asking for the same jobs as you. Landing an internship gives valuable and applicable experience you can talk about with recruiters. Having an internship breaks down the initial barrier when speaking to a recruiter or interviewer, such as during the ECU career fair. It differentiates you in a positive manner and creates more future possibilities.

There are many instances in which professionals you may not truly know may connect with you via LinkedIn, or a social network, and ask for help or advice in a certain area you have experience in. This has happened to me several times, so I promise I’m not just giving you junk advice.

There are also many students who hate the idea of working an internship that is unpaid. In my opinion, the experience you receive from internships is much more valuable and worthwhile than an hourly wage. You can still work a job while working an unpaid internship, and your salary will never grace your amazing new resume. The goal of an internship is to grow yourself professionally, putting what you learn in class to practical use, and growing a certain set of skills. Wait until you’re out of school to really worry about how big your paycheck is.

Apprenticeship

Landing an internship isn’t always easy, especially for the Summer. Many companies would be more than willing to allow you to shadow or help out with an apprenticeship for the Summer. Although unpaid, it is an amazing way to network and see firsthand how passionate and interested you really are working in a certain aspect of business. You can’t honestly say you love your major until you truly have applicable business experience to base your decision off of.

Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to stay busy and help your neighboring community. You may also be allowed to bring in your business experience and help an organization beyond the capacity originally planned. If you’re a finance major, help teach people about money management and taking positive steps to saving for the future, if you’re a marketing major, ask if you could revamp their social media, or advertising tactics. This could be a positive way to spend any downtime that you may have, while  also working to help others, and creating a better understanding of the on-goings of a non-profit business.

Skill

Summer is the perfect time to learn a new skill. Many students look at business throughout school in a very departmentalized way, yet business is, and should be very integrated. For example, I am a Marketing and MIS double major. MIS requires design and marketing skills to create software and databases that you can be proud of. Marketing requires a strong knowledge of design and computing technology with today’s emerging technological advances. Through learning basic html or coding concepts, marketing majors can more easily understand the scope of proposed projects such as creating a campaign website, and more easily work in digital marketing, such as search engine optimization, social media marketing, etc.

There are many things you may work to learn over the Summer that you may be able to apply to your major. Having a basic running knowledge on a variety of these topics may be ideal for your major. Here are just a few examples:

–        HTML (http://www.w3schools.com/html/default.asp)

–        Photoshop/Basic graphic design (http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/tdrc/index.cfm?product=photoshop&loc=en_us)

–        Social Media Marketing

–        Writing (employers rate communication as #1 most desired skill amongst employees)

–        Writing and formatting professional documents (Press releases, annual reports, etc.)

–        Money management (http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2006/08/30/27-money-tips-for-college-students/)

Essentially what I want you to take away is, even though it’s Summer, it doesn’t mean the world has stopped spinning. As future business professionals we need to be vigilant and take ownership of our education. Learn what you need to, to give yourself every advantage possible for the big graduation day. Set goals and work to achieve them. College is about stretching yourself beyond what you thought was possible, and growing yourself and your set of skills in a non-threatening environment.

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Who Runs This College: Assistant Dean Margaret O’Hara

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Margaret O’Hara for an interview. Dr. O’Hara is highly outgoing and very intelligent and driven. She likes to keep her class room fun and is very motivational to her students. Here is my interview with Dr. Margaret O’Hara.
What do you do?
I’m the Assistant Dean. I help out with the Center for Student Success, faculty and student development and online programs.


Where are you from?
New Jersey

What are your hobbies?
Reading, traveling, working out and walking.

Do you have family/kids?
I have a husband and my best friend has four children that I think of as my nieces and I have two dogs who I consider my children.

What kind of music do you typically listen to?
Pretty much nothing really modern, 60’s and 70’s. Light classical, light rock.

What is your favorite memory from college?
Taking piano lessons as a class for an elective.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A teacher

What is the one thing you can’t live without?
Contact with other, because I get all of my energy from people.

What would you say makes a good leader?
The abilty to listen, to communicate, and to care.

What word of advice would you give to students?
Seize the moment.
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