The summer break is a great time to wind down from the pressures of your academic life.  Deadlines, exams, coursework and teaching time are all paused for a few weeks, and we’ve got some suggestions for how you can use that time to reflect, refresh and renew before you come back for Semester 1 in September.

Reflect:

Whilst it’s tempting to forget about the academic year just gone, taking some time to reflect on it is very beneficial. Here are a few suggestions to guide your reflections.

Reflect on your assessment feedback.  Take a look at the feedback you’ve had from assignments this year.  Look at the comments rather than the marks to find out what you do well, and what you may need to work on.  Note these down, and make this a habit during the rest of your time at University – if you don’t know your strengths and weaknesses you’re potentially hindering your development.

Reflect on the type of assessments you’ve submitted this year.  Which types do you prefer?  What new skills have you learned from them?

Reflect on the modules you took this year.  What have you enjoyed, or struggled with?  Can you see any patterns in this? Are there any topics or themes that came up that you want to pursue next year?

Refresh:

Without breaks in the academic year you’d quickly burn out, so the long summer break gives you the space to refresh yourself.  One good way to stay mentally active is to make space for creativity.  You may not think of yourself as a creative person, but doing a degree requires a high level of creativity as you transfer ideas into new situations, and develop a critical mind-set.

Creativity isn’t necessarily about painting or making, and if you’re wondering what the benefits are, take a look at this excellent video from BrainCraft.  Essentially we’re saying that a generous helping of creative engagement in the summer can help you to wind down without becoming catatonically bored, and you might even uncover a hidden talent.

Renew:

Looking ahead to Semester 1, there are some light touch activities that you can do to help you to limber up for learning.

Remember reflecting on your strengths and weaknesses?  Think about ways in which you could work on the skills that need improvement.  Could you come along to a Skills@Library workshop during Semester 1?  Alternatively you could look at the Skills@Library website or book a 1-2-1 appointment with one of our Learning Advisors.

Investigate the reading lists for your new modules and take a look at some of the key texts.  If you’re not in Leeds, then you may be able to use another University library by getting a SCONUL card, or looking for the text online in Library Search.

If you have module handbooks available for your new modules get ahead by putting assessment deadlines into a calendar.  You could also look at the learning outcomes for these and think about how these build on what you learned last year.

Whatever you’re doing this summer, all of us in Skills@Library wish you a relaxing break.