As the coronavirus crisis continues and the semester comes to an end, students may be looking at a summer without plans or direction, cooped up in their apartments or their families’ homes. For those continuing school in the fall, this break may seem like a time of uncertainty. Many students had internships canceled for the coming summer, and many others have been forced to leave from their place of work and have moved back home with family. These students may be looking for a way to fill this void with productive avenues for their energy. It would be prudent for students to examine other options to occupy themselves during this summer vacation, be it summer school or finally working on a passion project of their own.
Summer school can help students provide structure and a regular schedule in this tumultuous time. For some, the simple act of having something with a definite start and end time can help those who have trouble managing their mostly empty day. The summer can be a perfect time to take courses to fulfill general education requirements or introductory courses for their major. Students who see a particularly stressful semester on the horizon could also opt to take one of their harder courses over the summer so they can balance their studies.
If taking a difficult class this summer sounds too stressful or impossible, students could consider taking something simply for their own education or enjoyment. If students are feeling disconnected from their USC community while at home, courses such as “Los Angeles: The City, the Novel, the Movie” could be useful for those who do not know that much about the city of Los Angeles. While conducting classes over Zoom does make connecting with peers more difficult, students could enroll in courses with friends to provide another avenue through which to connect.
L.A. City College offers several language classes, including American Sign Language, that it is conducting online for the summer semester. Learning a foreign language could be a nice escape from the current times and provide some useful skills for life after sheltering at home.
These courses do not have to be too expensive either. At $1,928 per unit, costs for taking a four-unit class at USC could be prohibitive for those who have been hard hit by current conditions. But the University offers financial aid over the summer, such as discounted loans or extension of existing scholarships. However, if these options are unavailable or unfeasible for students, L.A. City College and other schools within the L.A. Community College District offer courses at $46 a unit, a much lower price tag than USC. Students who have moved home should also consider looking into their local community colleges, as California tuition for those out-of-state residents is significantly more expensive. Even if the course credit doesn’t transfer back to USC, simply enrolling in a class that aligns with student interests could give them something to do and teach them something about the world around them.
If the prospect of taking even more courses sounds stressful, now could be an opportune time to take up a personal project. These tasks don’t have to be writing the next great novel or starting a podcast, although those who are willing can give those their best shot. Perhaps parents need a new bookshelf or an elderly neighbor needs their lawn weeded or grocery shopping done. In these stressful times, helping those in the community or even checking something off your own personal errand list can help relieve anxiety. All tasks, from the smallest favors to the biggest undertakings, can help provide a sense of purpose or productivity for those who feel trapped at home with little to occupy their time.
Of course, for some students, productivity by these metrics may be out of reach. For students who are hit hardest by the pandemic, it may demand all their energy to keep working or take care of sick loved ones or community members. However, these are options for the USC students who have the privilege of time off in relative security during this pandemic and who may be itching for a task to keep them occupied. Those students should consider furthering their education or personal projects in addition to finishing that season of television.