3 Signs of Summer Brain Drain (and How to Combat Them)

Summer brain drain is a problem that most students face, whether they are in their first year of elementary school or their final year of graduate school. Some education experts believe that students can lose between one to three months of learning in the summer, but this number can vary depending on the extent to which a student is academically gifted. Students should first recognize how susceptible they might be to summer brain drain in order to combat it.

To help you recognize the warning signs of summer brain drain, here are three common red flags. If you do see them, there is no need to panic. Instead, try following the steps below to overcome the issue.

1. You don't have any plans this summer
If you aren't participating in a club, internship, or other activity this summer (such as part-time employment), you may be more susceptible to brain drain. Without plans that engage your mind and/or body, it can be all too tempting to watch endless hours of television or to play video games all day.

How to combat this problem: You need not devote your entire summer to reading classic novels and taking math tests. However, a near-complete lack of activity will not allow you to flex your cognitive muscles. To solve this problem, get involved. For example, consider finding a part-time job that will prompt you to use your graphic design or writing skills.

2. You feel completely disengaged from school
Summer is a time to rest and relax. But perhaps you refuse to think about the classes you're taking in the fall. Perhaps you aren't proud of your history grade, but you just can't bring yourself to truly reflect on your performance, as well as how to improve it next year. If this sounds familiar, you may have a difficult time transitioning back to school this fall, all because of brain drain.

How to combat this problem: While this might seem counterintuitive, focus on enjoying your summer. Set aside several weeks to recharge. Then, begin a simple conversation with yourself. Ask honest questions, such as "Am I satisfied with my grades? Can I do better? Did I work as hard as I could have?"

Ultimately, create a basic academic strategy for next year. You don't have to dive into your textbooks -- instead, research the best study habits for your learning style. Consider how you can apply these new techniques to your upcoming classes. You might just find a better and faster way to review that is also more enjoyable.

3. You haven't done any of your summer schoolwork
This is a very common sign of brain drain. Maybe you're enrolled in an AP course, but you haven't started your required summer reading. Maybe you keep procrastinating on your calculus problem sets. Luckily, this type of brain drain is also one of the easiest types to solve.

How to combat this problem: Divide your schoolwork into manageable portions. This might mean devoting 15 minutes to reading each day, or an hour in the morning to math problems. With a schedule that balances work and play, you may find yourself more willing to focus on your academics this summer.