During summer break, students may feel it’s acceptable to leave all learning by the wayside. According to the National Summer Learning Association, students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in math skills over the summer and score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than before vacation. Encouraging college students to be educationally active during summer break will keep their minds fresh and ready for the fall semester. Here are some college tips to keep students busy with a summer reading list, summer session or summer internship.

Professional email account for students

As students interact with the world outside of friends and college, they need to put on a professional, adult face, especially when communicating with prospective employers and when seeking financial aid, internships, grants and graduate courses. A cute, sexy or inappropriate email address will not create a good first impression. Recipients of mail from sexylady21@gmail.com or bullyboy18@gmail.com will be unlikely to see that person as a viable intern or employee.

Writing in “Countdown to college: Timely tips to close out senior year,” posted April 27, 2016 at Thenotebook.org, Melissa Rowe suggested: college students “should update their professional image before they are off to the races of ‘real life.’ Even if they are assigned a college email account, they will need to lock in a professional email address that they control access to and can keep for years to come. By the way, it’s wise to have them switch email addresses for services like College Board, FAFSA and PHEAA accounts.”

Summer internship

A productive internship is essential for most students planning for a fulfilling career, and summer is a great time to serve this function. H. Frederick Sweitzer explained in The Successful Internship, 4th ed, “The internship is an opportunity for intellectual and emotional development… and [to] develop qualities such as flexibility, sensitivity, and openness to diversity that are critical to your success.”

Summer session

While attending more school during the summer is a turn off for many students, others see the value of summer sessions. Adding a class in the summer adds to an undergraduate degree program, thereby reducing the workload for the next semester or allowing the student to graduate early. Adding a summer course also lets students take advantage of summer grant programs, rely less on student loans and access lucrative jobs before their peers.

Summer reading

Many college students like to read on their own if it’s in a genre or topic they already enjoy. Whether it’s sports, fashion, electronics, adventure, people in the news, celebrities, etc., students can be guided toward books that appeal to them. Suggest a reading list based on the students’ interests, current events, current issues such as race or politics, biographies, or classic literature in a genre of their interest such as science fiction or international settings. For example, the Berkeley Summer Reading list for students includes Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption; Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell; Alan Turing: The Enigma; The Little Prince; The Sirens of Titan; and more. Ask students how the book relates to their life and experiences, or to the world at large.

Reference: Sweitzer, H. F. 2014. The Successful Internship, 4th ed. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole. Cengage Learning. VitalSource Bookshelf Online.

What are other ways to engage students academically during the summer break? Tell us in the comments.