Summer time is almost here, and for most students, that means a much welcomed break from school. As the joyous schoolyard chant “No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks” implies, students are ready to forget the stress of readings, papers, and tests.
Each student will have different plans, whether they’re going home, volunteering, working, interning, or traveling. Staying involved with campus during summer vacation is often the last thing on students’ minds, so how can you help make it easy for students to stay in touch after the dorms empty out?
At Localist, we see this happen every year with our higher education customers. During the summer, traffic slumps on their calendars, and event listings slow to a trickle.
Drawing from what we see our customers doing—and my own experience as a relatively recent college grad (at least, no grey hairs yet)—we've put together some ways to keep students engaged with campus during summer break. Read on!
1. Get the conversation started with a bulletin board.
By this time, students probably have an idea of what they’ll be doing during the summer. Now, ask them to share it with the whole campus. A board in the union is a highly visible way to let students share their plans.
Leave some pens nearby so students can add their plans to the board. Where will they be? What will they be doing? Why? By seeing the wide variety of ways their classmates are spending their summers, students can start to get excited about summer plans. A public board is also a resource for underclassmen to see how older students spend their summers.
2. Have students tweet their #summerplans.
If summer’s the anti-school, then suggest to students that they take that time to catch up on everything they put aside because of schoolwork. Use your school’s twitter account to ask students what they’re going to do now that schoolwork isn’t in the way: What books are you going to read? Where are you going to travel? What art projects will you do? You might get some answers that surprise you—is there a physics student in your midst whose secret passion is poetry?
Students will appreciate that you recognize summer as a time to focus on things other than academics. Some might even be inspired by their classmates’ plans and add new activities to their summer to-do lists. Plus, this is a great way to keep interesting content rolling from your Twitter account when campus is slowing down.
3. Keep a blog of what everyone’s up to.
You’ve heard about everyone’s intentions for the summer—now it’s time to see what they’re actually doing. Start a blog, and ask students to submit photos, text updates, or creative pieces about what they did during the summer. To get responses flowing, try entering those who submit into a raffle for a gift card to a popular campus eatery or local bookstore.
A regularly updated blog is a convenient place for students to check in, and it might open their eyes to the broad talents of their peers. Alumni can tune in and remember their carefree college summer days. Freshmen and prospective students can learn about what older students are doing with their time and brainstorm for the coming years.
4. Help students network around the world.
Students will be scattered around the globe during the summer, and it would be a shame for them to be in the same place but not know it. Create and promote Facebook groups for popular student destinations to keep students connected even when they leave campus.
Working with your school’s career center, throw a party with free food in popular cities to help students network with alums. Students will be grateful for the meal and the opportunity to see some friendly faces. Alumni might find their next intern or employee.
5. Absence makes the heart grow fonder (of swag)
What student doesn’t feel connected to their university when they get a care package with a free goodie inside? Sending a little piece of swag is a fun way to check in with your students and let them know you’re thinking of them—and they’ll be thinking of you, too.
Buttons and car decals are easy and fun gifts to send. And how about a keychain or lanyard for graduating seniors who may have just gotten keys to their first apartments?
Overall, the key to keeping students engaged with campus over the summer is to make involvement interesting and fun. By using social media and relaxing events to get everyone together, students will jump at the chance to stay in touch.