With so much pressure to take classes to fulfill major requirements, get off the wait list for whatever class that filled up before you could register, and build impressive resumes for internships and grad schools, students should take advantage of summer vacation. It is easy to get caught in the momentum of staying on the level of other students when so many people, often right after their freshman year if not earlier, get internships and jobs over the summer. Granted, it is important to get experience and save up money, but it is also important to dedicate some time away from the stress of college academics to learning new things without any motivation for a grade or status.
Rather than losing composure over summer opportunities for advancement, people should focus on opportunities for self­improvement. UR is great with its open curriculum as well as its auditing and pass/fail options – that is why many people choose to go here. Sometimes, however, the classes that would normally be appropriate to use these options for simply don’t fit into a schedule full of major, minor, and cluster­requirements. Summer provides a way to teach oneself new things, completely at one’s own leisure. Make a list of movies to watch or books to read.
Learn how to play an instrument. Start learning a new language. Overwhelmed college students need to pick something to invest in totally freely, so that upon returning to school in the fall, they are an expert in an area that makes them a fresher person.
Someone who knows random facts about Aretha Franklin even though he’s been taking math and science classes for two years. Someone who has read the complete works of Charles Dickens just because. Someone who joined a summer club sports team or created an exercise plan. Someone who picked a director or actor to like, and watched all of her movies. There is more to a personality than a major or a minor, but sometimes, with the stress of school, it is hard to dedicate time to other interests.
Of course, it can be easy to make summer goals stressful too. It’s just important that, going into summer vacation, students see it as a time when they can do something different or simply relax. Picking a few activities to do that don’t have to do with looking impressive to somebody else could be a great way to take a step back and be a little happier that school is out from May to September.

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