Summer plannin': It happened so fast

Janessa Morin - 09 April 2021

Sunny days, cold drinks, beach trips, and ice cream.

A billion pleasant things come to mind when we think of summer, and “planning” usually isn’t one of those. Regardless, planning is a necessary evil to get the most out of the most flexible season for a student lifestyle. While it may seem a bit far in advance to start figuring out what you’ll be doing in July or August, I guarantee it’ll save you a lot of trouble down the line if you decide what your priorities and goals for the summer are early.


The first part of getting the most out of your summer is identifying what you want out of the summer.

  • Do you need to take some time and relax for a few months?
  • Are you aiming to make some money?
  • Does taking some courses to lessen your workload during the school year sound more up your alley?
  • Or maybe you’re shooting for an internship or work/volunteer experience?

Whatever it is you’re looking for, deciding that will be key to choosing how you’ll spend your time. There’s no right or wrong way to spend your summer, but acknowledging your goals early will give you the time to prepare everything you’ll need to achieve success.


Now that you’ve figured out what you want to do, considering where you’re living is a good next step. If you’re staying in Edmonton, your two main options are living in residence or moving off campus. Both have pros and cons, so it all depends on what you’re looking for!

Residence looks a bit different over the summer than during the academic year, but it’s still a great option for a ton of reasons. In a typical summer, there are a lot fewer people living in residence than in Fall and Winter, which has some nice benefits, like less noise (and more space in the communal fridges in Schäffer). I’ve listed my top 3 reasons for living in residence during the summer below:

  • WiFi included! Since summer 2021 will still be happening amid a global pandemic with lots of happenings proceeding online, living in a place with built in WiFi is one less thing to have to worry about and pay for. Plus utilities and maintenance are all rolled into one convenient price.
  • Proximity to campus. If taking courses is part of your summer plan, living right next to campus gives you close access to libraries, labs, study spots, resources and public transit.
  • Summer lease. If you’re looking for a place just for the summer, it can be tricky to find an apartment or house that will let you stay there just for the summer, or even for the spring. Summer students staying in a U of A residence can choose to stay for the full summer or for just the spring, depending on if you want to go home or elsewhere for part of the summer.

These are just some of the many reasons to consider living in residence over the summer, and if you are interested, you can head over to the residence Spring & Summer Housing page for more information.

There are benefits to living off campus as well, like learning more about independence, living in an area other than campus or if you’re looking for a place for the summer and school year. Overall, it’s a good idea to weigh both options and decide what’s best for you.

Work and school

Jobs and classes sometimes feel like the entire student life. Either is a valid option for ways to spend the summer, whether you want to learn or make money. Both are slightly different than their academic year counterparts.

Spring/Summer courses are a lot shorter than Fall/Winter, meaning you have to prepare for a lot of material over a lot less time.

Summer jobs on the other hand generally have more hours available for students than during the school year. An important consideration when starting the job hunt is specifying how many hours you’re looking for. Do you want a full time 9-5 job or are you searching for a weekend-only gig? Whichever you choose, the U of A Career Centre is a great resource to help with your resume, cover letter, or even a place to find opportunities using their job bank.


My final, but arguably most important, aspect of summer planning to consider is make time for enjoyable activities! Even if you’re working or taking classes, it’s important to still keep some time for yourself.

My absolute favourite thing about summers in Edmonton is the proximity to the mountains. As a Manitoban prairie girl, I’m in absolute awe of just how beautiful the Rockies are, and I would 100% recommend making a trip out over the summer while following public health guidelines of course.

Another fun and closer option is Elk Island Provincial Park! It’s a beautiful area full of wildlife and perfect for exploring. Plus, it’s a designated dark sky zone, so it’s ideal for summer nights spent stargazing.

There’s a ton of other cool happenings in Edmonton; walking or biking around the river valley, checking out the Neon Sign Museum or the Alberta Legislature, or discovering Edmonton’s festival scene (COVID permitting). It all depends on where your individual interests lie.

As a wise person once said about summer, “The annual problem with our generation is finding a good way to spend it."

Hopefully you’re already thinking about how you want to spend summer to make sure you have enough time to get your dream job, score your ideal living situation and enroll in courses early to save you last minute panic down the line. Before we know it, those summer days will be drifting away, so here’s hoping it’s a blast!