All set up for the summer

Education | Brighten Youth Edu Centre 19 Jan 2021

As millions of people around the world receive their first Covid-19 vaccinations, students might be understandably hopeful about the changing prospects for personal growth and education.

Perhaps life will return to normal? Perhaps there will be a return to overseas summer schools and the kind of international service trips that enhance CVs?

However, at current rates, even in the most enthusiastic nations, most young and relatively healthy people would be overly optimistic if they hoped to receive their dose before summer.

There is also no way of knowing what impact the vaccine will have on current lockdown rules. Vaccines are not 100 percent effective, and the vaccinated are still capable of passing on the virus.

The idea of vaccine passports is being challenged by governments around the world. That means plans for this summer need to be adjusted.

The first step is questioning yourself about your aims for the summer.

Are you just looking for things to put on your CV? That approach is rarely successful. Employers and university admissions boards are unlikely to be convinced. If your LinkedIn is full of entries that last only a handful of months, it's difficult to argue that you are "enthusiastic and committed."

Think about what you really enjoy and convert that into useful service.

If you can code, teach to groups from underrepresented communities. If your talent lies in music, set up a regular jam session in an old people's home. If you're an artist, offer to paint murals on charity buildings.

Such an approach doesn't just enhance your CV - it hones your skills and, as research has shown, improves your mental health.

What if your aim is to learn something? Well, all of the usual university summer schools will be running, and you don't run the risk of losing your place due to international travel restrictions.

Prestigious institutions around the world will continue to offer their digital summer schools for this year at least (there are no plans, as yet, for in-person equivalents).

LinkedIn offers online courses for soft skills that impress employers, and many of them are free.

However, if you really must travel, do so for a longer period. If you're uncomfortable with the online learning currently offered by universities, accept a gap year and make use of it. Relocate, quarantine and commit to a lengthy stay.

Want to learn German in Germany? Go for the year and accrue other experiences. Work, volunteer or enrol for foundation courses. Frequent, short-term travel increases your risk. Prioritize countries that have effective Covid prevention infrastructures (eg, Taiwan, New Zealand, Iceland, Singapore, Vietnam). Accept that life is unlikely to be "normal" this summer, and make a proactive plan now.

If you have any questions about our column, or the issues raised within it, please e-mail them to us:


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