There is a pretty large misconception when working in Residence Life (or Higher Education for that matter) that we, like the students have summers off to go off and enjoy and not worry about work. While we miss those true summer vacations from our youth, there are still countless reasons that a housing professional might look forward to summer. Whether it’s a lull time for your team, or you keep striding on with camps, conferences and summer school, here are some tips on accomplishing those tasks you want to get through over the summer.
- Plan Ahead
If you’re like me, you’ve gotten to your RA Training time and thought, “Where did summer go?” It happens to me every year, and I don’t expect that to stop anytime soon. What I find that helps relieve that feeling is making a list of all the things I would like to accomplish over the summer (whether that is starting a presentation early, organizing the files in your office, welcome gifts for incoming staff, etc.) and create deadlines for them. By having these action items on your calendar and on your desk, you can work through them at a better pace rather than scrambling days before staff returns.
- Pick Up That Copy of the Journal of College Student Development
Or your academic reading of choice. They come in the mail every month, and we may skim them and pick an article that applies to the work we are currently doing, but dedicating time to actually reading them may not come as often as we would hope. Put an hour on your calendar each week to sit and read them. It’s helping your ongoing professional development and you may discover some great new strategies and ideas for making the most of the upcoming year. Also a great time to reach out to colleagues and recommend an article that they might find interesting.
- Find a Summer Passion Project
This one will apply more for those who have a free couple of hours over the summer to dedicate to improving or creating a process or event. Find something that over the year you wanted to improve or a new initiative that you wanted to implement and give the time and effort to seeing that through. Again, put time on your calendar, share the idea with co-workers for accountability (and potentially for collaboration), and give yourself some deadlines to complete this project.
- Make Time for Self-Care
While there are societal and systematic barriers to self-care for some, summer might be the most ideal time for you to explore some methods of self-care that works for you. Trying out some different ways of relaxing and really find what works for you. If you find a strategy that you love, it is something you can carry through the year with you as something to commit to doing for yourself.
- Visit Your Colleagues
All across Student Affairs there are a number of things happening in different functional areas. A great way to build or continue relationships with these departments, is finding ways to get involved in their areas over the summer months. Volunteer to be present for Orientation check in and point new families in the right direction. Promote summer school events around the halls. Bring a snack to those in housing operations as they are tirelessly working on assignments. All these are small ways to assist your colleagues during their busy time.
- Enjoy Vacation
Summer might be your only chance for uninterrupted vacation. Clarify your leave expectations with your staff, colleagues and supervisor so you’re less anxious about leaving. If there is a summer project or responsibility you have, delegate your tasks if leaving for an extended period of time. Meet with those who are in your office, in your duty rotations, etc. to clarify dates that you will be gone and protocol to follow in your absence. This will allow for peace of mind on your part, and better communication through the summer months.
If you have any thoughts on how to spend your summer in housing, post a comment below or engage with us on twitter at @ACPA_CHRL.
Ann Schafer currently serves as a Center Coordinator at the University of Oklahoma and a Directorate Body member of the Commission for Housing and Residence Life. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts from East Carolina University in 2013 and her Master of Education in Adult and Higher Education from the University of Oklahoma in 2015. Ann is passionate about Residential Curriculum, first year experience, and leadership. For more information connect via twitter (@AnnSchafer) or e-mail (AnnSchafer@ou.edu).