“Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.” –William Arthur Ward
An inquisitive mind will prepare you more for college than any academic skill. Academic skills are important, but they cannot compare to the desire to seek answers and learn more. If you want to succeed in school, find what sparks your curiosity and pursue it. Summer is the perfect time to expand your mind. These summer college preparation tips will help you cultivate a passion for learning.
The activities here are fun, creative ,and challenge you to think in different ways. Try one or more of these activities this summer and see how they engage you.
10 Summer College Preparation Tips
#1 Read 5 books and keep a reading journal
They could be from your college’s suggested reading list or books in your field or subject area. If you don’t have any idea about what to read, look at your course descriptions, and see what kinds of books you will read in class. Another tip is to search for books your future professors have published too.
OR read for pleasure. Look for novels, nonfiction or any book that interests you. It doesn’t matter if it’s a science fiction novel, cozy mystery or book about building birdhouses. Reading anything will benefit you.
Then start and keep a reading journal where you can reflect on what you think about what you’ve read. All you need is a notebook, 10-20 minutes and the desire to write a journal entry.
#2 Participate in a book club
A book club whether online or in-person is a great way to connect with others and share ideas and reflections on what you’re reading. You are doing many of the same things you will do in a class discussion, analyzing a text, looking at different points of view and expressing your opinions about what you’ve read.
#3 Take a fun class
It can be an exercise class, a class where you develop a new skill or even an online course on a topic you want to learn about. Whether it’s learning Irish step dancing, taking yoga, or studying genealogy, choose something that interests you. Make it a class you want to attend.
#4 Visit museums, cultural sites, historical sites, or state and national parks
Are you into art, technology, science, history or nature? There are museums in almost every subject or interest. (I live only a town away from the National Bottle Making Museum).
Cultural and historical sites can reveal the experiences of others who came before you. They remind us we are only one small piece of this world. Parks help us not only connect to nature, but they also inspire us to see and do more. All these places give you the opportunity to learn and experience something new.
# 5 Write
You can start a journal and write about your experiences. You could do freewriting every day in a writing notebook. Try writing poetry, songs, fiction, blog posts, etc. Write anything that strikes you. If you want to get into writing, but don’t know where to start, check out Natalie Goldberg’s book, Writing Down the Bones. It will help you develop your writing voice and grow as a writer. And if you want ideas for what to write about, check out this blog post, “10 Terrific Writer’s Notebook Ideas.” https://www.academicwritingsuccess.com/10-terrific-writers-notebook-ideas/
Do you want to write a book? Over the summer you could set up a writing plan and track your progress. You could also join a writing group and write with other people.
#6 Volunteer at a non-profit or participate in a movement for change
Do you want to make a difference in someone else’s life? Then volunteer at a local non-profit. Do you have a social cause you care about? Start or join a campaign for change. Helping others benefits them, but it also changes you. You’re sharing your gifts and talents in a way that makes an impact on the world. You broaden your knowledge about your issues and deepen your understanding of the lives of others.
In the age of COVID-19, a lot of volunteer work and organizing has gone virtual (just look at the presidential campaigns). But, you can still join movements and rally people to take action through email, text, and online events. Consider doing a live stream or a series of live streams to promote a social cause or a non-profit organization. If you don’t like being on video, create a podcast series, blog about your issue. Quarantine may change how you volunteer and work to create change, but it doesn’t stop you.
#7 Create something
Draw, paint, sculpt, invent, compose, or build something unique. It doesn’t have to be an item you share with others. You could create something personal. And it doesn’t matter what you make. When you create anything, you spark your imagination and transform an idea into something real.
#8 Conquer a fear
Plan and work step-by-step to overcome one fear you have. What are you afraid of? Is there a fear or phobia that gets in the way of how you live? Then take time over the summer to address that fear. You’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment and empowerment when you conquer one of your fears.
# 9 Go and see a play or concert.
Not only are these enlightening experiences, but they’re exciting too. Whenever you see actors or musicians you reflect on their work and appreciate (or sometimes criticize) what they do. You observe, analyze, and absorb what you’ve seen and heard. Plays and concerts can confuse us, depress us, uplift us, etc. But they always make us think and feel.
# 10 Set your college goals and create a vision for your life
Imagine where you want to be and what you want to do in life. Then write down that vision. If you don’t like writing, create a vision board. To create a vision board cut out words, pictures and things that represent the dreams you want to achieve, and paste those things to the board. Then post that board somewhere you will see it every day.
Express your vision in any form and then keep it close to you. Once you have a vision you can set academic, personal and professional goals. Your vision and goals help determine what you succeed in school and life.
College Preparation Challenge
All these summer college preparation tips stimulate your mind. They arouse a desire to learn and do more. Choose what interests you and do it. The best academic preparation for college isn’t one habit, method or skill. It’s developing a mind that seeks knowledge.
Which tips strike you? Comment below with what you want to do this summer!