Students with no time to lose know that summer can provide the perfect time for academic advancement. College students can take advantage of summer break by enrolling in educational activities such as summer classes, summer internships, travel abroad programs, online classes, or volunteer work.

Finish your degree sooner

One option during the summer is to continue your college education by taking summer courses that count toward attaining your degree. As a typical bachelor’s degree is completed in four years and on rare occasions, five years, Jane S. Halonen explains in her book Your Guide to College Success: Strategies for Achieving Your Goals, 7th ed., “depending on the major selected, summer classes, efficient planning, and good fortune, it is possible to complete the work in less time….The four- or five-year plan also lets you see which terms will be light and which will be heavy, as well as whether you’ll need to take summer courses.”

Summer internship

The tried and true summer activity for college students is the internship. Whether paid or unpaid, internships offer an introduction to your future career, teach you teamwork, provide valuable on-the-job work experience, and help you learn more about yourself and your skills. For many students, it’s a chance to mature and take an official first step into adulthood.

Travel abroad

One of the most exciting educational adventures you can do this summer is join a summer study abroad program. There are so many options for students studying history, literature, foreign language, science, politics, and more.

Trips to China, Europe, and South America offer language and culture studies; history lessons at famous historic destinations like Rome and Greece; ocean excursions for marine biologists; art history trips to Paris; Jewish studies in Israel; and study in international business and politics virtually anywhere.

Take an online summer course

If you don’t feel like going into a classroom, but still want to keep your brain sharp, consider an online course, which can be either for fun or toward your degree. “Low cost, convenience, and no commute—what’s not great about taking an online course this summer? Plus, you’ll be able to get ahead, lessen your workload for next semester, and even get on track to graduate on time,” according to Olivia Santo in “10 Things Every College Student Should Do This Summer” posted at State University of New York blog May 15, 2014.

Volunteer and charity work

You can combine volunteer work that helps others with your major field of study. For those in psychology, social work, medical/healthcare, or other services, you can volunteer at hospitals, nursing homes, and women’s shelters. If you’re an education or math major you can tutor students. For political science students, a presidential campaign and local senate or mayoral races are the time to work for your candidate of choice.

For theater or performing arts majors, summer is the time for Shakespeare in the Park. “Volunteer work can also help build skills such as leadership, public speaking, and group work, which can be applied in the classroom as well as in the workforce,” according to Taylor Massey in “Tips for Students: How To Get the Most Out of Summer,” posted in CengageLearning May 1, 2015. And remember, volunteer work always looks good on a resume.

What are some other educational activities for college students you recommend for over the summer?

Reference: Halonen, Jane S. and John W. Santrock. 2013. Your Guide to College Success: Strategies for Achieving Your Goals, 7th ed. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning