How Summer Reading Assignments Prep You for College

Summer reading assignments closely resemble many college course curricula and, if approached properly, can provide great practice of skills you’ll need for your freshman year.

By Hilary Gan, Varsity Tutors' Contributor

July 12, 2016

How Summer Reading Assignments Prep You for College

Summer reading assignments in high school can be 500-page books, which can seem overwhelming. In college, however, students can face 30-50 page readings from multiple classes a few times each week.

Summer reading assignments closely resemble many college course curricula and, if approached properly, can provide great practice of skills you’ll need for your freshman year.

Here are a few…

Time management

Time management is one of the biggest takeaways from a summer reading assignment. Summer break is roughly equivalent to a semester, and just like in college, you’re expected to create your own schedule for getting it done. Procrastinating until the last two weeks of vacation can cause a lot of stress and leave you forced to turn in shoddy work.

If you can, try to review the assignment before school even lets out for the summer, and create a reasonable plan for yourself by breaking the assignment into smaller chunks that can be done weekly.

Staying accountable

At the university level, you’ll be expected to put in anywhere from two to five hours of study time for every hour of class, with very little accountability. Summer reading assignments can help you learn how to motivate yourself and stay dedicated.

Small rewards like going out for coffee after completing an assignment or planning to meet friends after a study session can motivate some people; others may do better by asking friends to hold them accountable by meeting up to study together or checking in by text daily on progress.

Some people need to find ways to make the work itself fun and challenging with homework competitions or reward apps. Knowing how you work best before heading off to college will help you avoid stress and stay on track.

Self-directed learning

High school educators are often able to be more involved and can create clearer structure for students than professors have time to do. At the university level, you’ll be expected to pull the important concepts out of your reading and apply them in class and in your homework on your own.

Summer reading assignments are structured similarly: once you do the reading, you’ll likely be expected to write an essay or take a test the first week back without any classroom prep time. Make sure to take notes and look for supporting resources that will help you extract the big takeaways from the reading.

Building reading strategies

Summer reading is also an opportunity to learn to read college-level texts effectively. Practice strategies such as doing multiple readings with different purposes, allowing more time for textbooks and high-concept reading, skimming the text and re-reading with a focus on the important passages, taking notes and highlighting as you go, and restating what you’ve read in two or three sentences when you’ve finished.

You’ll be in a better situation than most other freshmen and ready to handle reading workloads across most disciplines.

While summer reading assignments can seem excessive at first glance, they replicate the college environment well and provide good opportunities for building a skill set that will help you excel at the university level.

Hilary Gan is a professional tutor and contributing writer with Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.

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