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If you want to use your summer vacation to your advantage, it’s time to start setting goals now. Many people, especially students, get carried away with summer relaxation and end up wasting valuable time. It’s important to relax during the summer, of course. Your brain needs the fresh air, sunshine, and rest that summertime in Colorado can bring. But, with that in mind, it’s not a bad idea to set a few goals for yourself to accomplish in the next three months.

Everyone’s goals and strategies for reaching them are different, and they should be. Your goals will change as you accomplish them. Once you graduate from Pickens Technical College, your goals will likely be very different from someone who will return to PTC in the fall for more classes.

Since everyone’s priorities are different, instead of supplying your goals for you, (which I can’t do) I’ll organize them in three broad categories you should pay attention to when you’re planning out your summer:

Career Goals

Planning for your future career, whether it’s starting right now or further in the future, should always be a point of interest at PTC. Your instructors give you the hands-on skills to learn the trade, and the opportunities to ask questions and learn from real professionals. Over the summer, though, while many offer opportunities to train and get more experience in one way or another, the instructors aren’t there anymore to demand your homework. You have to take it upon yourself to supplement your instruction with solo training. Assess your weaknesses and find ways to strengthen them over the summer with your own lesson plan.

Next Year Goals

For students planning on continuing their education at one of PTC’s excellent programs, these goals should be called ‘next school year goals’. Those moving on should start planning their next move right away.

For the returning students, look ahead at which classes you’ll be taking with which instructors and introduce yourself as best you can both to the class material and to the person responsible for supplying it to you. Connecting with teachers early is a good way to get help later in the year when you run into problems.

For the graduates and those moving on, you have more uncertainty. The first objective should be considering your options carefully and deciding on what you want to do next. Pursue a higher degree? Get more training? Get a job or an internship in the industry? Find what works for you and start to lay out a plan that will get you there. Meet people working in the industry, draw up your resume, etc.

Personal Goals

I made this a separate section because, even though graduating and getting a job in a good field can, of course, be personal goals, but you should also focus on your personal development, beyond the professional realm. You’ve learned the skills and gained the experience that will make you a star in whatever industry you’ve chosen, but in order to move ahead and lead a fulfilled life, you have to work on yourself, too.

What’s a personal weakness you have? Try to identify weak points and discomfort zones and challenge them. Focus on doing a little more each day-cleaning the house, communicating more with loved ones, reading—to improve yourself and your personal relationships. It’s time well-spent.