Summer Brain Gain

What is your brain doing this summer? While many students continue their studies through the summer, others follow the traditional school year and take the summer off. And why not? Summer is an inviting time to get outdoors and away from studies for while.

A summer break need not be an all-or-nothing concept. For students in a full-time course of study, taking only a single course over the summer months can feel like holiday. Dealing with one course instead of five may seem like a picnic and, at summer’s end, you’re three credits closer to your goal.

Whether you’re taking a full or partial summer break from studying, you can still make some progress over the summer months (or at least prevent your brain from turning to mush.)

Desk clean-up. A good task for a rainy summer day. A lull in your studies is a good time to tidy up all those random pieces of paper, file away documents from completed courses, and find a home for last semester’s textbooks.

Make a plan. Summer down-time means abundant opportunity to research which courses to take in the fall. Pay special attention to the evaluation section of the course syllabus. With careful advance planning and staggered start dates, you can reduce having major assignments from multiple courses due at the same time.

Apply for transfer credits. Still trying to track down course outlines so you can apply to AU for transfer credits? Summer is often a slower period at registrar offices. This may be a good time to contact your former colleges and universities for the course outlines and transcripts you need to support your transfer credit application.

Reading list. Remember all those books from supplementary materials lists that you vowed you would read? Those supplementary readings create a perfect excuse for lounging outside. Even though those courses are completed, reading the supplementary texts help reinforce what you’ve learned. This will be especially valuable if you plan to take a follow-up course in the same subject.

Non-stop learning. It’s nice to chill out in the summer but your brain will benefit from some exercise during the down months. Sign up for a seminar or workshop. Tour a museum, historic site, or brewery. Attend a speaker night at a photography, astronomy, or social club, or at a local library, museum, or art gallery. Take a class purely for interest.

Try something new. Take your mind in a difference direction. Take a class in watercolour or glass-blowing. Explore the varied online training at, available through AUSU’s website (only available if you are registered in an AU undergraduate course; if you’re not registered in any courses over the summer, you won’t be able to access through AUSU.) Try out Tai Chi, yoga, or juggling. Write an article for The Voice.

Get out there. Summer’s too short to spend all your time indoors. Go for a hike. Paddle a canoe. Have a picnic. Start a veggie garden. Explore your community’s green spaces. Watch the birds. Visit a zoo. If you haven’t done it in years, jump on a bicycle or a trampoline, or toss a frisbee. Enjoy some time away from your desk and come back refreshed.

Summer often seems to pass by too quickly. A thoughtful mix of leisure and learning won’t slow the passage of days but will add a sense of purpose to your time. Give your brain a summer to remember.

Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario