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What to do over summer

Ali Abdaal
Ali Abdaal

Hey friends,

I’ve been getting messages from people asking variants of “what should I do in the summer holidays of high school” or “What should I do in the summer holidays of my 2nd year at university” etc etc.

Here’s my two cents.

1. Don’t study

Whichever summer holiday you’re in, you won’t gain anything by trying to get a ‘head start’ on your GCSEs / AS / A2 / university / finals or anything of the sort. Yes, I know you’re about to start your first year of {x} and it’s supposed to be ‘really hard’ and ‘there’s a big jump between {x-1} and {x}’ but trust me, you will gain nothing by wasting your time studying over summer.

2. Learn useful things instead

This is the best advice I can give - spend your summer levelling up skills and hobbies. It can be anything that makes you more ‘rounded’ as a person. Not to maximise your chances of getting into university, but because these extra things that will add colour to your life in ways you won’t predict.

I’ll give a personal example - getting good at web design has been the best time investment I’ve ever made. To name just a few things, it’s helped me set up a six-figure business, work on interesting med tech projects, make friends with some incredible surgeons, join an international plastic surgery charity committee, etc etc. This ‘eye for design’ (as a friend called it) has also helped with branding, thumbnails etc on YouTube which has contributed to the increasing subscriber count. Thus, a skill I enjoyed learning in the endless school holidays has added immeasurable value to my life, and continues to do so everyday.

—-

Back in the day, you could get by fine by being super specialised, working in the same field doing the same thing for 50 years. The world has changed. The attention economy, the internet, the buzzwords - now more than ever, whatever we end up doing with our lives, having a diversified group of interests/hobbies/skills will only ever benefit us.

When you start working adult life, you’ll never again have the sort of free time that you get in your school/university holidays. I’ve got a pretty diverse set of interests and skills (if I say so myself). But even then, if I had the chance to go back in time and give my younger self advice, I’d tell myself to use that time better, to learn fun new things and level up existing hobbies.

Have a great week!

Ali

PS: If you’re not sure what to do, here’s a tentative suggestion - learning the guitar is pretty easy and cheap. You can get a guitar for £30 from a second-hand shop, you can follow Justin Guitar’s free online video course and you can have endless hours of fun and jamming with your friends.


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Ali Abdaal

Junior doctor, YouTuber, web designer, aspiring musician. Trying out this blogging thing.