GUVERCIN: Making sure to set summer goals is important for students

Opinions Column: The Bigger Picture

With finals week just around the corner, many of us are already in the summer vacation mindset and have started making plans with our friends and families for exciting events. Especially for those who are graduating, summer 2018 is a time for relaxation and freedom from school-related stress. Although we should definitely dedicate time in our end-of-year plans to our friends and families and enjoying ourselves after a long semester of stress, exams and existential crises, we should also devote a significant chunk of our schedules to pursuing intellectual and personal growth. 

Summer vacation has a strong connotation of “anti-school” and simply being relaxing, but this can be a huge and unfortunate waste of time if relaxing is all we do. Since there are no assignment deadlines or exams during vacation, it becomes much less stressful and more enjoyable to set certain goals for ourselves and reach them at our own pace. Summer is the perfect time, for instance, to finally start reading the books that have been collecting dust on your shelves, learning a new language, taking on a project, working a job, volunteering or even preparing for courses that you are going to take in the Fall 2018 semester. It seems pretty nerdy and boring to practice calculus problems or learn new grammar points in French during break, but every moment is precious and an investment into your future. Summer vacation is no exception. With unlimited access to the internet and loads of free time, one could definitely start a new hobby, read and even write a few articles and spare some time to give back to the community. 

Personal progress does not have to be limited to academic and intellectual pursuits. We all have certain things that we are aware we need to work on, whether it is relationships, proneness to stress and anxiety, lack of motivation, etc., and summer can be a perfect time to work on combating these issues. Some may want to devote more time to their spirituality and faith, some may want to get back in contact with old friends, some may want to determine their major and plan their career paths and some may want to take on new experiences and travel somewhere different. Whatever the case may be, it is necessary to take advantage of the great weather and opportunity to spend time with loved ones to better ourselves emotionally and mentally.

Another goal that is very hard to commit to during school is working out. I have come to realize that the “freshman 15” is no joke and that I seriously need to lay off the late-night ramen and large, sugary iced coffees. Setting a personal fitness goal is also a great way to seize the summer and shed off the layers of stress-eating that have accumulated over exam seasons. Summer is a time for drinking cold water, eating fresh fruits and vegetables and getting motivated for taking cute Instagram pictures. We do not need to treat our bodies when we are at home as poorly as we do in college when our only dietary restriction is “cheap and fast.” 

One of the best ways to stick to a summer plan is getting someone to do it with you, or getting inspired from someone else. My personal goals for summer 2018 so far are practicing my two target languages, finishing at least 10 books, working a summer job to save up for some of my future travel plans and exercising daily. To get started on your plan, take out a piece of paper right now and write down at least three things you want to achieve in terms of personal growth this summer. Here are some ideas: start meditating a few times a week, make a new friend, learn a new skill, teach someone a new skill, practice a new language by watching shows and listening to music, search up and purchase at least three books you want to read, pick up a new hobby, go the entire summer without a sip of soda, start bullet-journaling or blogging, write out three aspects about yourself that you want to improve, go somewhere new (it could even be a restaurant that you have never been to), read a news article every day, contact relatives or immerse yourself in a new culture.

It is not too early to make summer plans. There are countless ways to make the most of your vacation and better the person you are so you can enter the Fall 2018 semester with a new, healthy mindset. Of course you should have fun and relax, but remember that future you will thank you just as much for finishing all of those books as she or he will for going to a concert with your friends. That being said, finals have not even started, so save some excitement for later.

Dilara Guvercin is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year double majoring in philosophy and psychology. Her column, "The Bigger Picture," runs on alternate Fridays.


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