How to stay motivated when all you really want to do is go to the beach!
Oh, summer school blues… only the fraction of undergraduate comrades who walk the semi-deserted campus grounds know the familiar sting of being asked: what are you doing this summer? We all had our reasons for signing our summers away to books and exams – perhaps, like me, you thought getting organic chemistry “out of the way” would free up your loaded premed schedule to make way for better classes. Or perhaps you were seduced by some great sounding classes and eagerly signed yourself up for back-to-back-to-back semesters of college level courses. Taking summer school classes can be – in fact—a very good decision for any student. However, right around when those first midterms hit (why do they move so quickly??) many a scientista begin to experience those twangs of regret. Yes, while all of our friends finish their summer internships and celebrate the warm summer evenings, it makes it all the harder to lug our books to the library or turn in early for 9 am classes. If you’re starting to twitch in your chair during lecture as you stare dreamily at the warm summer breeze, this pep talk is for you. Keep reading!
Here are some thoughts that helped me to stay motivated during my summer courses and get through the summer burnout period:
1. This is, in fact, a good academic move: Whatever your reason, you chose to take summer courses for a specific purpose. Taking extra classes can boost your undergraduate GPA, give you additional learning opportunities, and help you clear requirements faster. Whatever your motive, remind yourself during those tough times that this will be worth it in the end!
2. Making friends is easier in school: Nothing says bonding like a 4 hour chemistry lab! Though it may feel like you don’t have as much time to socialize, making friends through classes, study groups, and dorm living is a lot easier than making friends in the real world. While your friends are likely working 8 hour days alone in a lab or a desk, you, the summer school student, are surrounded by peers. See this as an opportunity to socialize with your classmates and meet some new people! Often, the more intense the class, the more you can bond with your lab partners and problem set buddies. I met some of my closest college friends during summer orgo bonding over SN2 reactions and chirality!
3. You can focus on your studies: Most summer students take at most two courses. In comparison to a full credit course load during the school year, topped with extracurricular and school events, the summer learning schedule is a lot more relaxed. This gives us a golden opportunity to do something we don’t always have time for during the regular semester – enjoy the learning process! Take advantage of this time to soak in the material you are learning with minimal distractions or obligations. Fewer courses also means that you do have time for study breaks and leisure. Schedule breaks to hit the gym, go for a coffee, or catch the latest movie (Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University in the same summer? Yes please!!).
My freshman summer taking summer orgo ended up being a great experience: I was able to learn so much by focusing my studies on one subject, and I made some close friendships. Remembering the positives will help you get through the sunniest, laziest days. Happy learning, scientistas!