Should I Spend My College Summer on Campus?

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Question: Should I Spend My College Summer on Campus?

Your college undoubtedly offers a lot of opportunities for those who wish to spend their summer on campus. But is doing so the right choice for you?

Answer:

When it comes to deciding if you should spend your summer on campus, there are several main factors to consider:

The campus is completely different over the summer. In addition to a drastically reduced student population, the kinds of folks who are on a college campus over the summer are not what you'll be used to.

There will be summer camps, visiting students, and conferences; there will be professors away doing research, offices that are closed or holding reduced hours, and even fewer dining options. However, there are pros and cons to staying on campus; just be aware that the environment you're used to will be very, very different. (For example, you might get woken up early on a Saturday morning by cheerleaders practicing their routines for a cheer camp your college is hosting. Conversely, you might also get to know a lot of other students you might otherwise not have interacted with during the academic year.)

What are your work options, both at home and on campus? If you're on campus over the summer, you'll need a reason to be there. So whether you're working an on-campus job or doing research, it's important to consider what options you have.

  • What are the financial benefits of staying on campus over the summer instead of going home? Will you earn more money at home, since you won't have to pay for housing and food? Are the job opportunities better at or near campus? Do you not want to lose a job you usually have during the academic year?
  • What are the professional benefits? You may not be a college graduate yet, but the choices you make during your college years will have an effect on your career later. Does staying at home or staying on campus over the summer provide better options for your college resume (e.g., working retail at home vs. helping a professor at school)?
  • What are the personal benefits? Is going home stressful for you? Or will it be even more stressful to stay at school, away from your friends and family back home? Make sure to consider the personal pros and cons of staying on campus over the summer, too, since they'll have an effect on you one way or the other.

What impact will staying on campus have on your family and other relationships? For some students, their families depend on them coming home to help out with a family business or with child care for younger siblings. For others families, staying on campus over the summer is encouraged because their students can take extra classes or save money. Think about what impact staying on campus -- or heading home -- will have on your family and other personal relationships.

What will leave you best prepared for success when classes resume in the fall? Don't discount the importance of this one; if heading home (or staying on campus) will leave you feeling burned out, frustrated, and jaded when the summer ends, it will be hard to start the new semester strong when fall begins. In addition to providing some income and experience, your time over the summer should also provide a little TLC.

Being in college is hard work and the summer can be the perfect -- if not only -- opportunity for you to really rest and relax for a long period of time.

What do you want to do? At the end of the day, the decision about whether or not to stay on campus over the summer boils down to what you simply want to do, too. After all is said and done, which do you want to do: head home or stay on campus? Just like picking your classes during the academic year or thinking about what you want to do after you graduate, deciding how to spend one of your sacred college summers is a personal choice. Consequently, it's important to include your individual preferences and desires in the decision.