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What should you do with your summer freedom?

By Ashleigh Viveiros

The sun is shining and the beach beckons - summer is officially here. Now, what are you going to do with all this freedom? Here's a five-pack of suggestions for all you hard-working university/college students out there:

5. Relax - you've certainly earned it. If a school-year full of essays, midterms, and homework assignments didn't leave you somewhat frazzled, the last month of finals probably did, so take the next few months to get your mind firmly out of academic mode and recharge your batteries for next school year. Take summer courses if you must, but try to keep your academic commitments light around this time of the year - it's just too nice out to spend the day stuck inside a stuffy classroom!

4. Reconnect with family and friends. Regardless of whether you went to school away from home or not, chances are good you haven't had as much time as you'd like to just bum around with old friends or chat with Mom and Pop over the last several months. Now that all those school commitments are gone, take the time to more seriously connect with your support network - you know you'll need them to lean on when life gets stressful next school year.

3. Rediscover old talents and hobbies. Maybe you used to love to draw or paint or play the piano, but fell out of the habit of doing it on a regular basis because you were too busy with school. Don't let any more time go by before you pick up that old hobby and get to work on it again. Rediscover the simple joys that have always made you happy, and remind yourself that there is more to life than academic achievement.

2. Gain experience of one kind or another. By this, I mean, pick one of two paths. Either:

  1. Take advantage of the fact that you're young and not tied down to spend the summer exploring a totally different job than the one you're training for. Go plant trees up north, work at a hotel in Banff, get a job on a fishing boat in the Maritimes - just take the opportunity to explore our country and try your hand at jobs you may have never considered before. After all, you can survive pretty much anything for three or four months, and you just might find a new career to fall in love with (or, at the very least, you'll come away from the summer with some interesting stories and a determination that you NEVER want to do THAT again).
  2. Use the summer to gain experience in your field of choice. That is, try to get a job that lines up well with your ultimate career goals so you can gain some valuable work experience, beef up your resume, and make contacts who could one day give you a lead to your first post-school job. Can't find a job in your field? Then aim for one that utilizes many of the same skills (working with kids, customer relations, writing, etc.), or try and volunteer with something related.

1. EARN MONEY! Unless you are independently wealthy, getting some money in the bank over the next few months is probably the most important thing you can do this summer in preparation for next school year. For many students, the money they earn from May to August is all they have (aside from student loans) from September to April. Whatever job you have, pick up as many hours and shifts as you reasonably can, work your butt off so they'll be willing to have you back next summer (or, even better, give you part-time hours or casual shifts during the school year), and try to keep your summertime expenses as low as possible (move back home, start biking instead of driving, etc.) to save the maximum amount possible.

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