The fall and spring semesters are packed with classes, leaving summer as the ultimate season for rest and relaxation. Given the many reasons for taking a much-needed break, why even consider taking a summer class? Enrolling in one or two summer classes is more beneficial than you may think.

1. Get Ahead on Your Academic Plan

Summer classes can help you get general education courses out of the way so you can complete your degree on schedule — or even earlier. Since general ed courses are usually prerequisites for classes related to your major, finishing them early frees you up to focus on your major. You might even have time to take extra electives.

2. Make Time for More Difficult Classes

You already know how hard it is to carve out enough study time for a single class when you’re taking a full course load. Instead of overwhelming yourself, save those difficult classes for summer. For instance, if you’re an English major who has difficulty with math, wait until summer term to devote all your time and energy to that dreaded calculus class. Summers allow you to tackle your most difficult subjects without distraction

3. Save Money

It’s no secret that delaying your graduation results in more student debt. The best way to keep your student loans to a minimum is to graduate on time or even early. Enrolling in summer classes accelerates your graduation plans and keeps overall costs down.

4. Keep Your Brain Sharp

It’s easy to get out of the habit of studying and writing research papers when you take a couple of months off. If you’re the type of student who works best with a steady routine, taking summer classes can help you maintain your stamina and keep your brain sharp. Summer classes are also ideal for subjects requiring multiple courses.

For example, meeting your foreign language requirement is easier if you can take Spanish 101 and Spanish 102 in subsequent terms. If classes are full during the fall and spring semesters, taking the summer off could mean losing everything you learned in the first course.
Enrolling in summer classes keeps your brain sharp in other ways, as well. You’ll maintain good study habits from one academic year to the next without feeling like you’re starting over every fall.

5. Enjoy Online Options

More colleges and universities have started offering online classes to help students meet their general education requirements. Summers give you the perfect opportunity to enroll in an online course while working a seasonal job to save money for tuition and personal expenses. Even if you want to spend time at home with your family over the summer, online classes allow you to enjoy some downtime without experiencing a break in reaching your education goals. You can even go on vacation while still getting another required course out of the way.

With so many reasons to take a summer class, why not give it a chance? Summer terms allow you to finish your education requirements early, take smaller course loads throughout the academic year, and better balance your job and personal life.

Want to give your grades a boost? Join a study group. When you work with some of your classmates, you’ll get more out of your courses and help each other improve your academic performance. Learn about the benefits of study groups and get tips for getting the most out of the experience.

Make Your Notes More Thorough

Even if you’re diligent about going to class, it can be a challenge to jot down all the notes you need for upcoming assignments or tests. Your study group can share notes to ensure that no one misses any important details shared by your professor.

In addition, the members of the group can cover for each other if you have to miss a class for any reason. For example, your group could provide you with notes if you can’t make it to class when you’re sick. If someone has to skip class due to a family emergency, you can share your notes so they don’t have to stress about what they missed.

Cover More Material

Studying for an exam is much easier when you tackle it as a group. You can discuss class material and quiz each other as the exam date approaches. For bigger tests like midterms, you might even assign each group member a topic to research and study. Then, you’ll take turns teaching the other members of the group in preparation for the exam. You’ll only have to study a limited portion of the class material, but thanks to the help of your group, you’ll cover all the necessary topics that will be on the test.

Share Your Skills

Each member of your group may have a unique skill set that they bring to the group. Maybe one of you is great at putting together study guides. Another member makes excellent flashcards, while someone else is able to explain complex topics in a way you can all understand. It’s helpful to have a member who’s great at setting up group meeting times, handling library study room reservations, and reminding everyone when and where to show up. What skills can you bring to a study group?

Get Motivated

Study groups can be an excellent solution for procrastination. If you have a hard time motivating yourself to study, joining a group can help to boost your academic performance. You’ll have a specific time and place to meet, which makes you much less likely to slack off. This structured setting is also helpful for students who find it difficult to focus on studying when they’re on their own. When you’re in a small group, you’ll be engaged throughout the meeting rather than becoming easily distracted by other things.

Studying doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. In fact, study groups can be immensely helpful for many students. If you join a study group for a particular class and find that it boosts your grade, you may want to consider starting your own group or joining existing ones for other classes in your schedule. You may even improve your study skills by learning from other members of your group.

Whether you’re just starting to apply to college or you’ve got a few years under your belt, you’ll want to make sure that you thoroughly understand your student loans. Many young students don’t put much thought into their loans until after they graduate, and the terms of their repayment surprise them. Here are four important things to know about your student loans.

Understand the Rates and Terms and Type of Loan

There are many different types of loans, so make sure you understand exactly what kind you’re agreeing to when you sign. Before choosing a loan, be sure to read all of the fine print, or you could find yourself with some very unpleasant surprises down the road.

Federal loans come with fixed interest rates. Private loans determine interest rates based on credit and income and some are fixed and others are variable, meaning the rate can change. Terms vary depending on the loan type, as well. Some loans allow for slower repayment or refinancing, while others don’t.

Federal loans are either subsidized or unsubsidized. The government pays interest on subsidized loans while the student is still in school, but students are fully responsible for all interest accrued on unsubsidized loans. First, you’ll need to start with a FAFSA application to see what you qualify for. Once you’ve figured out what financial aid you can get from the government or your school, you’ll likely need to look into a private loan to make up the difference.

Repayment Options

Be sure to know what your repayment options are for all of your student loans. Some loans offer income-based repayment plans. You can also defer your loans for a period of time if you’re having trouble making payments. Keep in mind that the longer you take to pay off your loans, the more interest you’ll pay.

Certain loans offer an auto-debit option. This is a great idea if you can afford your monthly payments because it’ll make sure you aren’t late or forget to pay. You might even get an interest-rate reduction for choosing this option.

Relief Options

Federal loans and private loans both offer loan relief options. You’ll need to contact the specific provider to find out what your options are. Some banks will modify your loan or lower your interest rate if you’re struggling to keep up with payments. You might even be able to get your repayment put on hold for some time until you’re back on your feet. Certain career choices offer federal loan relief, so be aware of these options, as well. However, it’s very important that you are aware that unlike other types of debt, you cannot get rid of your student loan debt through bankruptcy court so this debt will be with you for life or until you pay it off.

Avoid Debt-Relief Scams

Be careful not to fall for a student loan debt relief scam. Debt repayment should be handled between you and your lender directly. Basically, if a loan relief company offers you help with repayment but asks for a fee upfront, run away. You’ll likely begin fielding spam phone calls from these fake companies the moment you graduate, so be aware.

Don’t get caught off guard. Student loans are not free money, and you will need to pay them back. Get a handle on your loans and all of the various options available to you before you start paying them back. You’ll save yourself stress and money in the long run.

If you’re trying to land an internship this year, you’ve already heard the standard advice: Use your network, research the company, dress appropriately for the interview, and so on. But what else can you do to stand out from the competition? Your best bet is to use a few old tricks along with some new ones that previous generations didn’t have. Keep these three tips in mind while you search for your dream internship.

Think Outside Your Major

You should definitely apply for the positions that best suit your long-term goals, and that might mean staying within your major. However, it’s important to consider internships outside your major. Part of the college experience is discovering who you are. Is there an opportunity that appeals to you but doesn’t quite fit your area of study? Apply for it anyway. Many of your skills are transferable, and you’ll enjoy your internship more if you’re genuinely interested in the company.

It’s also a good idea to look outside your major if you’re not having luck with your search. Going with a company that’s not your first choice isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You could learn skills you wouldn’t have learned elsewhere, and you might actually like the position. Sometimes the best opportunities are found in unexpected places.

Edit Your Social Media

When you use social media wisely, it can improve your chances of finding an internship or a job. There’s a good chance that recruiters will check your Facebook page and other social media, so make sure your online presence looks professional. Remove any photos or posts with profanity, nudity, alcohol, or drugs.

If you want to connect with companies through LinkedIn, you should keep your account up-to-date — a blank or an incomplete profile is a turnoff. Using a selfie for your profile photo is another no-no. If you don’t have a professional-looking photo of yourself, get help from a friend who’s good with a camera.

Know What You Want

This is an age-old tip that still works. Recruiters don’t want a half-interested student who just wants to fulfill his or her internship requirement. They want someone who cares about the company and the work it does. Apply to companies that genuinely interest you. Tailor each application for each company. A generic cover letter or a resume shows lack of interest and usually ends up in the rejection pile.

Let your passion show. If you have a blog dedicated to the subject — maybe you have a fashion blog, and you’re applying for a PR position at a fashion company — mention it in your application. Talk about your long-term goals during the job interview. Showing that you’re driven can help you stand out above other applicants.

By following these three tips, you’ll improve your chances of scoring your dream internship. Just keep in mind that some internships are highly sought after, and rejection is inevitable. Don’t give up. Contact the organization for feedback to find out what you can do in the future to improve your resume or interview. With perseverance, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.