Is Summer Studying Worth It?
Issue 2, Volume 113
Once summer starts, most students don’t want to think about anything related to school. For many, summer is a time for vacation, relaxation, hanging out with friends, and lots of sleeping in. But for another large chunk of students, summer isn’t just a time to rest; it’s also an opportunity to learn.
Junior Eshaal Ubaid jumped into several advanced classes this year, including AP Spanish, AP English, AP Biology, and AP U.S. History. To prepare herself, she studied these topics over the summer. “Last year, I definitely wish I self-studied over the summer because it definitely would have cut a lot of time out of my [school] day,” she reflected.
Ubaid’s motivation was to avoid the stress she felt during her sophomore year. “After taking a test, the concept would suddenly click in my head and I would go, ‘I wish I had at least gone over the lesson [...] over the summer, because it would’ve clicked so much faster in class if I had done that,’” she reflected. “I think of [summer studying] as doing a favor for my future self.”
Freshman Sarah Jiang described summer studying as not only helpful but necessary for her academic success. In an e-mail interview, she wrote, “It’s sort of like taking supplements. [...] Sure, I can maintain my grade without studying, but in order to achieve my best results, I study. [...] Studying for anything is preferable to doing nothing.”
Freshman Veronika Gulko took this summer to prepare herself not only for the content, but also for Stuyvesant’s intense work ethic. She described self-studying as a “coping technique” for the harsh routine Stuyvesant demands. “My teacher used to tell me horror stories about [having to study five hours each night]. I don’t think that’s necessarily true, but I am trying to get into the routine of studying daily.”
On the other hand, some students study for fun. Since junior David Cai Liang plans on taking AP Computer Science, he practiced this past summer by using material from previous years lent by upperclassmen, partly because he genuinely enjoys computer science. “This is kind of an awkward situation, but it’s like I actually enjoy [computer science] enough that I would do it as a hobby more than as work,” he remarked.
In the absence of physical classrooms and teachers to keep students on track, many students utilized tools like Google Calendar and Notion to organize their summer studying. When it came to content tools, many students opted for free online resources such as Khan Academy and YouTube. “Especially in terms of AP subjects, I think [Khan Academy has] really good videos and practices to reinforce that,” Ubaid remarked. In addition to Khan Academy, she utilizes resources posted by teachers online. “Usually, some random teachers in Arizona or Texas will post these really great study guides with things that Khan Academy doesn’t have, so I use those to fill in some gaps.”
Junior Amy Gorreja commented in an e-mail interview about certain trends she noticed in how students study over the summer. “[Most students] either become obsessed and do nothing but study or have the book in front of you and end up ultimately doing nothing but be on your phone,” she said. She emphasized the importance of finding balance: “A good way to manage is to set up a schedule [...] and turn off all distractions. So when you’re done you can hang out with friends, go to a park, or whatever floats your boat.”
Ubaid made sure she had time to both relax and work, and wasn’t strict about guidelines. “As long as you get this stuff done by 11:00 p.m., it’s fine, and if you want to push it by a day, that’s also fine,” she said. “But I never cancel plans [due to studying] because that’s honestly a little bit sad, so it’s just a thing of ‘Oh, you can come back to it later. It’s fine. You have time.’”
Gulko recommends taking advantage of the self-paced nature of studying over the summer. “During the summer, you have the availability to just try different learning styles and then figure [out] later on what actually works for you and then stick with it through the school year,” she described. To avoid burnout, Gulko suggested saving some time during the summer for oneself. “I would just leave a week or two before school actually starts just to do absolutely nothing.”
On the flipside, some students do not see studying as a productive use of their summer. Senior Cassie Fenwick explained that the benefits that summer studying has, such as productivity and structure, can be gained from other sources unrelated to school. “I think doing some sort of summer program that’s meaningful to you [is a better way to spend your summer]. Over the summer, I did a film camp kinda thing. I’m interested in film. It doesn’t feel like school,” Fenwick explained. “It’s something structured and something to keep your mind alive.”
Fenwick also emphasized the importance of using the summer to manage burnout and how the lack of studying over the summer could be better preparation for the school year. “Going into senior year, I’m still scared to do work and I don’t wanna do work still, but having time to remember that I exist outside of school [...] has been really important,” Fenwick said.
Junior Henry Ji described self studying as futile, and potentially harmful. He argued that studying without knowing the teacher’s curriculum or style of teaching would lead to confusion once the student stepped into the classroom. “For instance, maybe one teacher likes to teach about chemistry a lot in the concepts of the point of view of an electron, like maybe they say, ‘The electron wants to bind here.’ [...] Perhaps another teacher likes to teach in terms of atoms,” Ji gave as an example. “If you lock yourself into one mindset [...] you’re gonna be confused because you’ve been thinking about chemistry in terms of things like electrons and what an electron wants when your teacher wants you to think in terms of what an atom wants.”
For that reason, Ji prefers to walk into class as a blank slate and recommends that if others feel the need to study over the summer, then they should stick to the absolute basics. “After the simple parts of a subject have been taught, every teacher’s gonna have a different way of discussing the things that come after,” Ji continued. “When you try to follow what someone else says, you’re gonna have conflicting opinions. [...] You’ll probably have a hard time understanding what your teacher says if you spent the whole summer conceptualizing in a different way.”
Overall, summer studying is not for everyone. For some, summer offers a time to experiment with different learning styles and catch up before the school year. For others, the best way to prepare is to rest before jumping back into class. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember to take that hard-earned break and enjoy summer for as long as it lasts. As Gorreja stated, “It’s just good to have a balance in the summer of fun and a little work to keep your brain fresh and functioning.”