As any serious student knows summer is great for decompressing, but it’s also the perfect time to catch up on all the things there’s no time for during the school year. Working to save money usually comes to mind, however, there are other things you can do—such as take more classes. What’s that you say? Classes are the things you WANT to get away from during the summer? You may want to rethink that logic because the slow-paced days of summer give you the freedom to either catch-up on or get ahead of your busy schedule for the coming school year. To give you an idea of what I mean, here are five types of classes you can take this summer, which in doing so are sure to lighten your load come fall.

  1. Quicken
  2. One of the biggest challenges for any college student is how to manage the miniscule amount of money you have to live on while going to school. Even if you have a fulltime job college eats up money faster than ants on tray of brownies at a picnic. So it would make sense (or “cents”) to learn how to manage your money BEFORE it starts flying out the door. Intuit’s checkbook and financial planning software Quicken is the most common personal money management tool around, and therefore affordable classes on that software abound. However, Computer Associates’ Simply Money, and You Need a Budget’s Personal Finance Software are two other popular options. Whatever you choose to help manage your money, install it and a get trained on it during the summer when the pressure to manage your money is off.

  3. Any Prerequisite Courses
  4. College is full of prerequisite classes that stand in your way of the big stuff you need to take to graduate. Quite often those classes are offered year round, including in the summer. In many cases the summer versions are offered online, making them even more accommodating to your schedule especially if you work in the summer. Check out all the prerequesite classes you’ll need to take in the coming school year and see if you can get some of those out of the way BEFORE fall.

  5. Cooking Classes
  6. Cooking classes are not just for fun. A good cooking class can save you hundred to thousands of dollars during the school year. How so? Because a cooking class teaches you how to grocery shop wisely and cook simple, yet nutritious, meals at home, which means you’ll go out to eat less. One of the biggest expenses that college students have is food. This isn’t because they necessarily eat a lot, it’s more due to the fact that they have so little time they rely on fast food and restaurants for meals. If you’ve been taught how to plan meals ahead at home, and how to cook them quickly and efficiently, you’ll rely more on your well-stocked kitchen rather than the local burger joint.

  7. A Foreign Language
  8. Unless your major requires a foreign language you probably won’t take one during your college school year. However, knowing a foreign language is a hugely valuable skill to have on your resume when you start looking for your first post college job. (It can also help get you summer jobs before you graduate.) Taking a foreign language class during the summer allows you to concentrate on the conversational aspect of learning the language in that you have more time to get together with other students taking the same language to practice your speaking skills. Or you can devote your time to verbal exercises through an online course. Either way, summer allows you the time to practice speaking, which is the ONLY way you’re really going to learn a new language.

  9. An Art or Music Class
  10. How many times have you said, “I want to learn to play the guitar?” or “I want to take a drawing class?” Art and music classes are those things we all should take more of, but unless we’re required to take them we tend to let them go by the wayside. So this summer feed your creative soul. Sign up to learn a new instrument. Take a pottery class, or an art appreciation class. Learn how draw cartoons. Summer is the perfect time to learn (or hone an existing) artistic skill that you’ve let go by the wayside because you’re working at breakneck speed to get through school. Take a step back and use summer as an excuse to set your inner artist free.

Regardless what you do this summer don’t waste opportunities that could put you ahead of the game during the coming school year. Yes, earning money is important, however, there are other things that you need to get done, as well. Budget your time just as judiciously as you budget your money. Then come fall you’ll be surprised to find you have free time you didn’t bank on. (Hey, it helps to be “rich” in terms of something, right?)

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