Summer can be a great time for learning and expanding our skill base. It’s also a fantastic time to start your journey towards learning new skills, because the days are longer, the weather is better and if you’re like me your motivation will be rocketing. It can be difficult in the winter, as once work finishes, it’s already dark and cold outside – which doesn’t leave us in the greatest mind-set to head out and try new things. So take advantage of the summer time and choose to learn your new skill, or embrace your new hobby now. It can be just the thing to do.
If it is academic growth you’re looking for, many universities and schools offer evening classes in the summer – which usually last around 6-8 weeks. A quick Google search of your local university or community centre will highlight the courses they’re running and usually the prices they’re charging. Although, some may be free and look great on your resumé
Some courses will offer a qualification at the end of the course, and some may offer credits towards a degree qualification. With credits – you could work towards a larger qualification over several summers, so this is worth looking into if you like setting yourself targets. Other courses won’t offer any type of qualification – but may just be for the simple reward of learning something new. It’s worth checking this before you start though, as courses that offer certifications or qualifications tend to charge for attendance or examination. One of the most important things you can do is have short term achievable goals so you always have the sense of achievement (I’ve just learned what y means, now I’m going to try to apply y to x).
Learning doesn’t have to be academic though – so don’t let it worry you if you don’t want to be doing a heavy academic course over the summer. You could just as easily use the summer to learn a new creative skill or expand your knowledge on a subject matter or hobby. If you’ve always loved acting – why not join an acting class for the summer – acting is great for building confidence too, so you’ll be learning new things about the industry and about yourself.
Art classes are another great choice for those people who fancy learning some creative skills rather than academic skills. Websites like Gumtree and Craiglist have community pages where art classes and art groups are often advertised. Of course, we’d always recommend taking a friend with you at first to ensure your safety – but it could be a fantastic way of spending your summer evenings.
Another great resource, especially if you live in or near a great city, is Meetup.com – MeetUp is an amazing resource for anyone who wants to find local groups and communities in their area. You can sort by location, or by activity – but there are so many options you’re unlikely to ever fall sort of things to do and groups to join. Meet Up has life drawing classes, writing group, acting groups, networking groups… it goes on and on! Simply search for the skill or area you’d like to learn more about and something will pop up.
Still stuck for ideas though? Well we’ve found some great examples of classes and groups to give you some ideas and get you inspired. Check out iTunes U and khanacademy.org for more ideas.
Family finance is a great thing to take time out to learn – as it’s an invaluable skill to put into practise with your own family. Budgeting is a great skill to have, especially nowadays, so this course is a winner for us!
This online course can equip you with all you need to develop all sorts of stuff on you iPad and iPhone. If you’re a big technology buff – then you’ll love this course! If you’re interested in learning a little web development, codecademy.com is a fantastic resource for the beginner (I’m following the ‘code year’ track right now, an hour after work).
Oliver works as a writer for Ladbrokes, and although his interest is mainly in tech, he’s looking to gain a deeper understanding of how these things work (rather than just use them). He plans to make the jump to Linux later this year.