To college students, it seems that summer is a bit of a paradox. It is labelled as a “vacation,” a time for students to take an extended break from the busy student life cycle. At the same time, though, summer is often just as fraught with expectations for students as the academic year. 

In summer, students are generally expected to search for opportunities for internships or jobs. Suddenly, spending a vacation de-stressing from the previous semester and preparing for the next is regarded as “unproductive” and “lazy.”

To some measure, the argument is valid, the three months that constitute summer vacation provide a sizable amount of free time — free time which might be spent on applying what students have learned over the previous year to their desired career paths. While I commend any student who has been able to find such opportunities, I believe the fact that such activities are becoming accepted as requisite for a “productive” summer sets a dangerous standard for what is considered successful in a student and what is not.

It seems that people often fail to appreciate how much of a challenge education can be in its own right. College students often have to put themselves under intense amounts of pressure in order to achieve success. 

While it may be fair to believe that the extended free time of summer is the prime time for students to be entering the workforce and gaining invaluable work experience, this course of action should be encouraged rather than expected.

Summer vacation should be spent in any way that adequately prepares a student for their return to school — as such, the idyllic summer experience should not be the same for every student. 

For students who have their internships and plans all locked up and are just waiting for school to end at this point, congratulations and best of luck. But to the students who are still struggling to figure out what they want to do over the summer, remember that such uncertainties are not particularly bad. Rather, they represent the multitude of opportunities in front of you that you can approach at your own pace.