There is a single thing keeping students sane while they drown in a tsunami of midterms, final projects, papers and assignments: summer break. Summer break is a college student’s salvation. It is the light at the end of the semester-long tunnel. The road to rest, relaxation, vacations and freedom.
Yet, summer comes with multiple stipulations that people tend to brush under the rug. Summer is not truly a time for enjoyment and relaxation, because as college students we bear other responsibilities unrelated to our coursework. These same responsibilities often leave students feeling burned out and unsatisfied with their break. They never even got the chance to take a rest! Summer break is not the free, high-flying and comfortable vacation it is advertised to be. It is a three-month long lie that we have been trained to accept.
The most notable con with summer break is internships. With a school as competitive as our own, there are heavy expectations and pressure to get a good internship, even among friends. This forces them into a place where they begin to obsess over finding some manner of employment or resume boosting, which is not a healthy mindset to have. Internships are a source of high stress and worry, especially for students who require that experience along with their transcript when applying for colleges post-graduation.
Summer classes do not feel the same as employment, but render the summer sad, dry and lacking in fun or excitement. Those same semesterly obligations, assignments and exams continue into the summer; this is not much better than the stresses we experience during the school year. Though we usually take less classes, the difference is easily made up via speed. Summer courses move at a quicker, more painful speed than their fall and spring counterparts. Students coming in with existing credits and classes have an advantage and disadvantage. While they do not have to take summer classes to catch up or move forward a little extra with their degree, they are thrust into the deep end of their degree, having to worry about internships and work experience earlier than their peers.
It may seem like there is an easy solution: Just take the summer off! But it is not so simple. Imposter syndrome runs through our student populace like rats through the on-campus apartment buildings. Not spending the summer productively feels like a waste of time. It is valuable time down the drain! We could not possibly let that time escape us when it could be used to better our futures and shape our careers. We are expected to maximize our available time before entering the workforce or the graduate school application field. Students do not have the luxury of time off, especially when their classmates are optimizing every second to improve their candidacy. LinkedIn stalking only serves to worsen this state of mind. Seeing peers add to their lists of accolades and work hard all year forces a sense of guilt onto the average student. Why am I not being wise with my time and opportunities when they are?
We live in an endless cycle of crawling on our hands and knees, fighting to get towards the end of the semester. Yet, the moment we reach our destination, we are again faced with work, pressure and stressors. In high school, I used to look at my sister’s summertime and pine for those three months. The two months we received paled insignificantly in comparison.
The harsh truth is that there is no break. After college, we look for work, then we work and then we die. There is no end in this capitalist reality, and summer is certainly not any real reprieve, despite what we all may hope for it to be.