College is painful. After a full academic year of classes, jobs, extra-curriculars, athletics, and whatever else a Georgia State student has to handle in a year, the closing of this semester should come as a relief to the thousands of stressed-out students walking the halls of the campus. While summer break offers a bevy of opportunities for students to further their resume, it should also be treated as a time to recover from the stresses of the year faced by students.
Summer is often treated as an opportunity to get ahead. Many students opt to take a shot at graduating early by enrolling in a variety of summer courses. For some students, summer classes are the best option for getting class credit and offer opportunities that cannot be obtained by only taking classes during the fall and spring. Even for those students though, time should be devoted to decompressing and maintaining mental health. Summer courses, while they may not be as strenuous as regular semester courses, can take a tremendous toll on students. Going from spring classes straight into summer classes and right back into fall classes places an enormous amount pressure on a student, and a legitimate effort should be put into taking time away from course work.
According to an article recently published by The Atlantic, some stress can be good. The piece stated that a little bit of stress can actually help motivate students and push them to do better on their school work. However, it also recognized that too much stress can cause a combination of mental and physical health degradation, stating that it can “degrade the immune system, cause heart problems, exacerbate respiratory and gastrointestinal issues, and bring on chronic anxiety and depression.” Taking an aggressive amount of courses for an extended period of time without a break spread out in between can cause this kind of stress. Enrolling in a vast amount of courses over the summer can be counterintuitive, as well.
A report by the Washington Post detailed a study that found that high levels of stress can negatively affect a student’s ability to “pay attention in class, stay on task, and are able to move from one activity to another.” Enrolling in summer courses, while it may give a student additional credits and expedite the process of graduating, could cause that student’s performance in those classes to be below par in relation to their typical academic performance because of the prolonged amount of stress placed on them.
Classes are not the only thing keeping students occupied during the summer, though.
Getting ahead with internships
Another common option for students to keep themselves busy during the summer is getting an internship. As most students know, internships offer students an excellent opportunity to gain valuable work experience. Internships should be sought out and valued by students. While working internships though, as goes with summer courses, students should also try to set aside time to break away from the monotony of constantly working.
One way to decompress from the stresses of school is to try to build close friendships with peers, according to USA Today. The report states that students can get stressed out if they do not have a group of friends that they feel understand them personally. Taking time over the summer to connect with friends and build relationships would greatly improve the mental health of students and allow them to become better prepared for the semester to come.
The report also states that although college students often find it hard to get enough sleep, obtaining a decent amount of sleep every night is crucial in reducing the amount of stress that a college student faces. The summer is a great opportunity for students to get more sleep and recover from a year of staying up throughout the night to prepare for a test or working late to finish an assignment.
The New York Times also released an article recently detailing a report that stated that a large portion of college students have reported being depressed. The report cited was based off of the responses of over 200,000 college students and stated that only about 52% of those students reported that they had above average mental health, down from 64% in 1985.
While the summer is an excellent opportunity for students to reach their career goals quicker and move ahead of their peers, it should not be tossed aside as a time for students to ignore their health. Doing so only bolsters the numbers which The New York Times cited.
Summer break is a prime opportunity for students to recuperate from the stresses of the school year and even though there are career advancement opportunities during the summer that cannot be obtained during the academic year, it should also be viewed as a time to rest.
Take a vacation! It’s good for you!
According to The Huffington Post, vacations:
- Allow the brain to relax, and improve on learning newly-acquired skills
- Can lead to better problem-solving and creativity, from our brain day-dreaming
- Allow you to better focus when you get back to work
- Offer opportunities to experience new cultures, and open your horizons ( more creative ideas for work!)
- Should be taken every month, for your body to get the rest it needs
- Are awesome!