Are you ready to shout, "School's out for the summer!" and dive head-first into a well-deserved whirlpool of fun, parties, balmy evenings, clinking glasses, biking, hiking, and all that jazz? I feel you. However, be careful. Watch out for that pesky summer slide.
Wait, isn't that about the school kids forgetting how to read or whatever? Well, not exactly. And you do need to be wary.
What's Summer Slide?
"Summer slide" is a term coined by educators in the 80s to describe the perceived learning loss of grade school kids. According to a study conducted at the time, children from low-income families were prone to losing their achievements over summer and did significantly worse on their September tests than their peers from affluent families. The latter also showed lower scores but were able to catch up. In contrast, low-income kids tended to lag behind, thus deepening the achievement gap. This concept became embedded in the public consciousness and the question, "How to prevent the summer slide?" preoccupied parents and teachers for decades.
However, experts have been skeptical of the phenomenon lately. Some have meticulously analyzed test scores and concluded that students not so much forget how to read or do the math but rather forget how to take tests, and their performance surges fall to winter.
Others have criticized the scoring system involved in the initial study and pointed out that the experiment cannot be replicated with updated grading, even though researchers try time and again. As Paul T. von Hippel from the University of Texas at Austin puts it, "Depending on what questions you add, you can get any gap that you want."
Summer Slide: College Edition
However, can there be something behind the summer slide concept? As it turns out, it can. Based on the statistics of paper writing services use, college students request more help after the summer break. Here is why this might be happening.
The break lasts longer
First of all, your vacations last two times longer than they used to in high school. That is unless you register for the summer term, but this is not a very popular option among students. Although summer gives you time to distress and return to college in the fall energized and refreshed, you might lose your academic momentum and find it difficult to resume studying at the same pace.
COVID slide is a thing
Things are also complicated by the off-campus time due to the quarantine restrictions. As a result, students aren't immersed enough in learning even before the vacations start. Many feel that virtual learning doesn't provide optimum engagement, despite the best efforts of the faculty. According to Steve Davis, Higher Education Business Development Executive at Sykes, "Nearly half of the students say they want more support on how to better virtually collaborate with their classmates."
No review period to ease you back
The college curriculum is intense. Your instructors cannot afford to lose time on warm-ups, so they don't review the material from the previous semester before giving you the new stuff. Instead, they jump right into it and give you essays to write and other assignments galore.
Subjects are harder
Your college classes are much more advanced than everything you had to learn in high school. Besides, each new level builds upon the previously covered material – whether you've retained it or not. Catching up is more challenging AND falling behind comes at a higher price. It may compromise your GPA and even lose you a scholarship since there are fewer components to your grade. One failed test at the start of the term can significantly affect your grade point average.
Tips To Resist the Summer Slide
Whether you have a summer job lined up, an overseas trip, or camping with your friends, you can still do small things to minimize the summer slide. Try these, for example.
Enroll in summer classes
Instead of putting studying on hold, feed the habit and keep advancing your academic career by taking at least one summer class. If you cannot do that for financial reasons, register for one of the online college-level classes that many prestigious universities offer free. This won't earn you academic credits but will give you the knowledge and keep your mind alert.
Keep the knowledge active
Even if you cannot take formal classes, you can still engage with the concepts you have learned earlier. For example, suppose you are majoring as an architect or an urban planner. In that case, you will find that traveling offers plenty of opportunities to apply your knowledge and analyze what you see in each new city. Art majors can visit museums and galleries, and so on. Put your knowledge into practice! Read and watch content in a foreign language you've been studying, or start a pet project to implement what you've learned.
Just read at your leisure
Reading is a very intellectually stimulating activity, so pick a book and enjoy both its content and the fact that you are keeping your mind fit during the summer. The beauty of this fix is that there is no commitment. Whether you are out camping, resting after a shift at a restaurant, or sipping drinks beside the pool – it's easy to pick up a book or read a digital version from your phone for as long as it is convenient for you.
Arrange your own review sessions
Finally, before school starts in the fall, brush up your knowledge to be ready for the upcoming classes. Reread your notes from the previous semester, take a practice test, or go through the flashcards you used to revise for the exams. This will activate the dormant knowledge in your head and prime it for studying.
Summer holidays are a blessing, and you should enjoy this freedom while you still can. Relax, bask in the sun, change the scene – only make sure your brain doesn't turn into jello over this period. You will need it back in shape by September!