Graduate Student Blog


Surviving the Summer Slump

May 9th, 2014 by


James E. Vines

Clemson University


The end of the spring semester marks the completion of another school year.  A new batch of newly minted Ph.D.s and Ed.D.s are transitioning from student to Drs.  However, for students who are still continuing their doctoral studies, the summer means coursework, research, and writing conference proposals and journal articles.  Despite the overscheduled, sometimes hectic, graduate student life, it is important to keep ourselves motivated, in good health, and squeeze some time to enjoy the summer.  

Campus Library

College campuses become very quiet each May, as students travel home for the summer break. However, the summer can be a great time for hard-working graduate students to take advantage of the resources on campus.  We all love our offices, but remember the library is still open.  The summer can be an excellent time to gather other graduate students, and head over to the library.  You will find there are more empty study rooms, and graduate student can set up shop to work all day.  Spending some time working in the library can be beneficial, because librarians are only footsteps away; you have quick access to stacks and stacks of resources, and less traffic during the regular school year.

Break a Sweat!

Studying, but don’t forget to take time to sweat.  Do you know that your campus has a gym?  No matter how big or small, it does exist.  Hit the gym.  Fewer students on campus means more time you can spend on a machine without a 30 minute limit.  If you are not into being cooped up inside the gym, go outside for a walk, a jog, or a run.  The key to a good workout is to be prepared.  Bring workout clothes, shoes, socks, and a positive attitude.  Bringing the items with you ensures that you won’t have to worry about leaving campus.  Whether you are into cardio, weightlifting, or simply want to get moving, working out has tons of benefits.  Working out helps you sleep better, improves your health, and can boost your memory and concentration.  The health benefits then translate into our seemingly endless work which requires focus, energy, and perseverance. 

Hit the Open Road!

Time to gas up.  So you come into the office each day, and you may even be taking summer courses.  Many people tend to go on vacations, or take family trips to get away and relax.  For a graduate student, it can be hard to distinguish the summer session from the fall and spring semesters.  Remember you are not alone, because there are other students in your department and on campus who are feeling the summer slump.  Reach out to these graduate students and plan a trip away.  It can be as simple as choosing a destination within an hour or two away.  Organizing a trip can be a great way to get to know other graduate students on a non-academic level.  A short trip and change of scenery can be refreshing, boosting your creativity and giving you a chance to step away from your work and return with fresh eyes.  Try to reach out, plan a trip this summer, and reap the benefits.

Friends and Family

The campus is quiet, the library is yours, you are working out, and you and your peers have seen new sights.  As you continue on in the summer do not forget that there are individuals back home who love, support, and miss you.  Be sure to take time to make a trip home.  Some of you may attend an institution close to home, so you have more time to go home during the school year.  You have a few months before the school year is back in full swing.  Plan a trip home, your family misses you, and wants to see your smiling face.  Also, going home means you can take a break from cooking your own food, and have a chance to catch up with old friends.


To all of the hard working graduate students, the undergraduate days of going home for the entire summer are over.  However, that does mean that you cannot have a successful academic summer, while staying healthy.  I encourage you to get outside the office, take time to explore places on your campus, and get your peers out with you.  The summer can be just as busy as a regular school year, but that does not mean you have not earned a break.  Give yourself the refresher you need in order to be the best, productive, graduate student you can be.