It’s summer! Time to forget about school and relax, right? Actually, this couldn’t be more wrong for college students. Although the standard school year might be paused, it’s so important to keep all the concepts and theories you’ve learned fresh in your mind. It may seem like a daunting task without the help of assignments and professors to guide you, but it’s much easier than you may think! And who knows- you might even learn a thing or two (especially in 2020). 

Take summer classes

This one might sound like a no brainer, but not everyone realizes how important it can be. Depending on your school, schedule, and availability, summer classes are a great way to stay sharp. We’ve grown up associating summer with fun and it being a break from school, but learning about your future career should never stop. Even if it’s just a gen ed or two, taking summer classes will keep you fresh and ready to learn all year round.

Attend conferences and webinars

With many different types of remote learning and working taking place right now, accessibility to speakers and professionals is at an all-time high. Many spring and summer conferences are happening 100% virtually, and often have a reduced or waived fee to attend. How often do we get the chance to hear from people across the country, sometimes even the world, all while wearing slippers and sitting at home? Staying in touch with organizations like PRSSA, both local and national, and its parent organization, PRSA, is a great way to get updated whenever these exciting events happen. 

Diversify your social media feed

This again might seem obvious, but we underestimate how useful the media is to our education. Technology is the driving force of communication today and knowing both how it works and how companies use it is important. Start with creating accounts on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. These are arguably the four biggest platforms today, so knowing how they function and staying updated on their newest trends, as well as building an account to prove to future employers that you understand the platform is important. You probably wouldn’t trust a mechanic who doesn’t drive, so why would a hiring manager trust someone for a communications-related position that doesn’t use social media? 

With whatever platform you choose, be sure to keep your feed diverse. Follow friends and family, as well as creatives, celebrities, media stations, journalists, creatives, businesses, and more. It’s also a great way to follow brands and companies, to see how they’ve adapted to and addressed the different issues going on today. Did they capitalize off events and shallowly address them, have they done serious work to better themselves internally, or did they ignore them completely? Do they ignore criticism and comments when they mess up or do they take responsibility? Use your findings to influence your consumption habits, and learn what actions to take when you’re one day potentially in a publicist’s shoes. Social media can be such a useful tool for people, but only becomes productive when they follow a variety of content types.

Watch the news

While turning on WoodTV first thing in the morning isn’t something our generation typically does, we might want to rethink doing so. Even if it’s just reading articles and the news section on Twitter, it’s important to stay up-to-date with current events. In most cases, a journalist is writing the article or teleprompt for things, and who’s giving them that information? A public relations professional and a press release. Knowing what media stations cover what topics, how they communicate world issues, and simply what’s going on is critical. Don’t underestimate how much you can learn simply from the news. 

These are just a few of the many ways to stay connected with your education while not in class. Whatever methods you take, just remember that this isn’t elementary school anymore- we will keep learning for the rest of our lives. Even during the summertime.

Kylee is a senior at Grand Valley, studying Advertising and Public Relations with a minor in Psychology. She is the 2020-2021 VP of Member Services for PRSSA, and has been involved with the chapter for almost 2 years. She is also a Design Associate for GrandPR, where she served as an Account Associate last year. She hopes to become a Copywriter at a communications firm, and dreams of one day being on the communications team for Starbucks. When she’s not in class or drafting the next PRSSA e-newsletter, Kylee enjoys checking out local coffee shops, crafting, and scrolling through Tik Tok.

Twitter: @kyleereinert