Summer Planning

Get organized!

As you search for opportunities you will gather information on many programs, contact information for multiple people, and application requirements and deadlines to keep track of. Keep this information organized from the outset. Use spreadsheets, web browser bookmarks, and whatever other organizational methods work best for you. Pay careful attention to dates and deadlines. Always give recommendation writers plenty of lead time when requesting letters (minimum three weeks, preferably more).

Consider your summer preferences and restrictions:

  • If you could do anything in the world this summer, what would it be?
  • Are there particular experiences or skills you need to build as part of your preparations for professional school?
  • What are your financial requirements? (Do you need to be paid? Can you volunteer? Do you have money to spend on a program?)
  • What are your geographic requirements or preferences?

Answering these questions should help you focus your search and ask the right questions when speaking with advisors and others about your summer goals.

Importantly, your summer experience should be meaningful to you. An experience that you believe will look good on paper, but is not in line with your personal interests and passions, will not serve you well in the long run. Be sure that you are excited about what you pursue!

Use campus resources

Should I take summer classes?

There are pros and cons to taking courses over the summer. Here are some considerations:

  • You are a full time student during the academic year. Summer is a valuable time for exploring different opportunities and building your skills. Additionally, your brain may appreciate the break from studying.
  • Summer courses can typically only be taken one at a time because they are highly condensed. Some people are fine with this, and others find it more challenging than having the coursework spread out over a longer period of time. 
  • It is not a good idea to complete as many pre-requisite courses as possible over the summers. This is a red flag to admission officers at professional schools, who will want to know why you did not complete the courses at your home institution. Taking one or two courses, with a reasonable rationale for why you took them over the summer, is generally fine. 
  • Depending on your academic plan at Mount Holyoke, it may be impossible or inadvisable to complete everything within your 8 semesters here. Under those circumstances, taking some summer courses can allow for flexibility in scheduling during the semesters and help to avoid significant credit overloads. Alternatively, you may choose to spread out additional courses after you graduate, leaving summers free for different pursuits.
  • Some professional schools will prefer that you take courses at 4-year rather than 2-year institutions. If you plan to take summer courses, discuss your options with a pre-health advisor.