Professor Paula Franzese

Professor Paula Franzese Featured in The Star Ledger

Most college students dream about summer all year: Long, warm days stretching out forever, without classes to sit though, papers to write or books to read. The problem with that dream, however, is that sometimes, those months of academic freedom can lead to a loss of mental agility (or, as some people call it, "brain drain") -- so that when fall comes, for these people, their minds are just not ready for the rigors of an academic semester. Fortunately, there are things students can do to avoid the dreaded brain drain.

The summer is a great time "to cultivate forms of intelligence that aren't necessarily honed in more traditional classroom settings," said Paula A. Franzese, a professor at Seton Hall University's School of Law and author of the book "A Short & Happy Guide to Being a College Student: A Daily Companion for School, Work and Life."

Getting any kind of summer job will help cultivate important forms of emotional intelligence -- including things such as getting along with people, inspiring trust, and motivating oneself and others, Franzese said. "Summertime also is a wonderful time for students to cultivate the more physical dimensions of intelligence," the law professor said.

To that end, she said that joining an intramural sports team can not only build skills in leadership, but also can develop "spatial and tactile finesse that is very helpful in the larger world."

Franzese also recommends that students continue to cultivate their media literacy by checking into the sorts of periodicals for which the rigor of the academic year doesn't allow. But there's an important caveat to that: "I'd counsel students against falling into the abyss of social media preoccupation," which, she said, has been shown to narrow one's perspective. Students should "take good care in their habits and preferences to make sure they're diversifying and not falling into the trap of confirmation bias." Checking into periodicals on all sides of the ideological spectrum is crucial to developing critical-thinking skills, Franzese said.

Read the rest from The Star Ledger.