Give Your Brain a Workout Before College

Posted by Pat Delorean

give your brain a workout

Summer time is for going to the beach, lazing by the pool, barbeques and sleeping in. It’s also time for you to get prepared for next semester’s course load.

Students who take the time to study over the summer and keep their brains active with different activities are more prepared to face a full course load when fall comes around.

If you want to get a jump start on next semester, here are some activities to practice to get your brain primed for academic action:

Memorization exercises

Practicing your memorization skills will really serve you once the semester kicks into high gear. Exercises that use associative methods to remember something can be highly effective ways to retain information for long periods of time. Try this association and visualization technique. Or use this memorization app that uses audio cues to help increase your ability to retain information. You can use it during the semester and leave your classmates in the dust at exam time.

Review of last year’s courses

After your final exam last spring, you may never want to look at your class notes from last year again. But many college courses are cumulative, especially in the sciences and mathematics departments. Taking a look at the material from last year can help keep it fresh in your mind. That way, you don’t have to waste time relearning something you already learned and can dive head first into this semester’s new material.


Taking the time to read books over the summer is a great way to keep the brain working. Reading can hone your analytical skills and provide you with new insights into the topics being discussed by academics nationally and internationally. Many top colleges and universities publish a suggested summer reading list. Here’s a comprehensive list for this summer.

Write an essay

After you’re done reading a book or two on this list, why don’t you practice your writing and analytical skills by sitting down and writing a five-paragraph essay? Include a thesis, supporting paragraphs and an anti-thesis as well as a conclusion. Why write an essay in the summer if you’re not going to get credit for it and none of your professors will read it? The more you write the better you become at writing. The more thesis statements you come up with the easier it is for you to think of them. The more analytical essays you write the easier it is for you to examine and analyze new information. If you practice writing often, the process becomes second nature and not a special form of torture designed just for you. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by keeping up a writing practice.


A lot of students experience problems concentrating or overcoming anxiety when it comes to tackling course work or studying for exams. Developing a meditation practice can help enhance your ability to concentrate and can reduce your stress levels when facing a heavy academic load. There are many ways to meditate, but a simple practice would be to sit in a quiet spot, either on a chair on on the floor. Make sure you’re practicing good posture by sitting up straight and relaxing your shoulders. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Close your eyes and breathe evenly. Release your thoughts and let your mind be completely free of ideas, imaginings or judgments. Each time you notice these things coming to mind, simply notice them and try to release the mind again. At first, it may be challenging to think of “nothing” and indeed it is. That’s the point. It’s one of the ultimate challenges. If you’re able to extend your meditation time and maintain calm and concentrated, you’ll be better prepared to face this semester. Practicing every day can lead to enhanced concentration and feelings of well-being. Try it.

Any and all of these methods will help prepare you for a successful semester.

image credit: flickr.com