Come May, a sort of frenzy catches students’ minds. While spending the summer at the beach is appealing, you could cut back on the beach time a bit and help yourself out. Student loans are no fun to think about, but they will be piling up. Give yourself a headstart and try some of these tips this summer to get a leg up on the competition.

1. Better Your Career

Go and look at your resume. Then go and look at the resume of someone who was in your shoes give years ago. It is usually an alum from your school or someone similar in age. Compare the most highlighted aspects in their resume and figure out one thing that makes them shine. Do this for top ten people who graduated five years ago. This will give you some idea on where you can see yourself in five years and what you need to do to get their in only two years. It will also be a good way to recognize them for what they have achieved. This will land you ten new contacts that will help you with networking and job hunting when you graduate.

2. Better Yourself as an Individual

You always wanted to learn how to play guitar. You wish you could let loose on the dance floor. If you could do some yoga meditation, that would be awesome. Summer is the time to take one of those wishes and work on them. There are likely classes in your school’s recreation center or at a local YMCA for which you can sign up for. Most of these should be free or cheap, so go for it.

3. Generate Passive Income

There are two ways to make passive income. First one is when you have a talent that could help others. For instance, if you could record a video testimonial for a service you can get paid for it. In order to find buyer for your talent you can go to Fiverr.com –  a website where people do stuff for 5 bucks and list your talent. You would be able to make a small passive income while helping others.

The second way to make money doesn’t even require a talent. As a student, I have made decent money from places like Flippiness.com –  a website to make money online by flipping books. Flippiness sells you a pair of links, one is where you can buy a book and the other is where you can sell it. You simply order from the selling website, get it shipped to your place, and send it to the website that buys it back. It is an arbitrage opportunity fed by technology taking advantage of varied book pricing on different websites. Spending about 30-60 minutes a day, you can make at least $200 a day.

4. Set Your Goals

Summer semester gives you enough time to set your goals right. List down your goals for the next year so that you know the big picture a year in advance. Then break them down to monthly goals so that you have a short term goal to look forward to. Then break them further down to weekly goals so that you have actionable insights. Once you have set your goals make sure you put your weekly goals at a place you see everyday. Work on them and check things off your list as you achieve them. It will help you stay focused and it will also boost your confidence.

Your goals for next year also include your plans for fall semester. Decide on the courses you want to take and register for classes before others to avoid the last minute rush. Submit your financial aid application and apply for other grants that you are eligible for.

5. Cut Down Expenses

Sixty percent of students pay more than they should or they need to for basic expenses. Give your bank statements from the last three months a good look. Check out where you spent money on a recurring basis. Then put it in a basket of “required” and “not required”. If an expense is not a required one, you don’t want it to appear on your statement over and over again. You can live without Krispy Kream donuts or at least cut down on that service you don’t need anymore, such as a landline phone. If you spend a lot of money on international calls, get yourself some Rebtel coupons and save up to 90% on your calling rates.

If you are a student, there are offers that you might not be aware of. Most of the universities offer free software for students. Use Microsoft Dreamspark if your department has a subscription to it.

Look at your phone bill and call them to find out if they give a student discount. Even if there is none for your school, you can see if you can go for a discount based on where you work. Working for Flippiness won’t count. Get a cheaper phone connection such as a pre-paid phone without a contract.

6. Get an Internship

Look for mailers on your bulletin board or emails that were sent last month. If your school has a career portal, keep an eye on it as well. Try for a paid internship, but at least get an unpaid one. Internships give you a taste of real world and teach you how to thrive in a professional environment. You would not work on the most critical things in an organization, but helping the financial advisor putting together those Excel sheets for a board meeting will be quite a learning experience.

7. Study Abroad

If you want a great college experience go to another country for a semester. Most of the students have to take their core courses and thus fall and spring semesters are not easy for a study abroad course. However, summer semester is the best time to explore this opportunity. Just make sure you choose the right institution and right course.

Check with the career counsellor at your school as many schools provide a study abroad course or have an affiliation with another school that does.

8. Avoid Distractions

Everything that seems interesting but takes your time away from your productive self is a distraction. You don’t need that video game and you don’t really want to start watching that soap opera. Decide how much time you want to spend on Facebook and don’t respond to notifications. In fact, stop notifications from Facebook and other sites you don’t really want to spend time on.

Distractions are not necessarily technology based. You might be excited about learning a new hobby, which is great, but there is a limit on how much time you can spend on it.

9. Respect Your Professors’ Time

Summer semester is short and hence Professor’s need to teach a lot in a short period. They will be in a rush to get things done on time. Don’t be that guy, read before you go to class to make most of it. Don’t email them for make-up exams and quizzes unless there was an emergency. Make their job easier and it will make your job much more easier as a student. Stay disciplined.

If you have any other tips for the summer semester I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or connect with me on social media.

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