For students, summer is more than just the warmest season of the year – it means a break from school. No matter what the calendar says, summer officially starts on the last day of school, as soon as that last bell rings. It’s a time for students to finally sit back, relax and take a break from all of the lessons, homework assignments and tests.
However, for high school seniors who have just graduated, it means a lot more. It means getting ready for that next step in life – college. It means taking advantage of every day to enjoy what you have and prepare for what’s to come.
Here’s a list of both practical and fun things you should do the summer before college.
1. Spend time with your family and friends
You won’t be able to see them as often once you’re off at college, so make sure you spend some time with them.
A) Talk with your parents about their expectations for you
Before you go to college, discuss certain expectations that your parents have for you. This can include a variety of things – it’s going to be different for each family. Expectations can include things like keeping in contact (how often your parents want you to text/call/visit home), grades (self-explanatory) and money (how much money they’ll give you to spend per month, who pays for textbooks, groceries, housing, etc., if you should get a job during the semester to help pay for costs, and more).
B) Get advice from your parents (and older siblings)
If your parents went to college, and/or if you have an older sibling that did, ask for their advice. While they may not have gone to the same college that you’re going to, they’ve still prepared for and gone to college. They’ll be able to tell you, from their experiences, what to expect, how to make friends during your first year, what their study tips are, etc.
C) Revisit your favorite hometown spots and restaurants with your friends
When you’re away at college, you won’t be able to stop by your favorite park or eat at your favorite cafe, so make sure to visit those places before you leave – and do so with your friends, because doing anything is made more fun with friends! If you live in a small town with little (or nothing) to do, you should still visit your favorite places (even if they’re in the next town over) – you’d be surprised at how much you might miss them when you’re in college.
D) Take tons of pictures with your friends
Use the long and beautiful summer days to take plenty of pictures of you and your friends. A lot of college students hang up these kinds of photos in their college dorm – they serve to both decorate the dull room, and remind them of fun times with great people.
E) Travel with family and/or friends
If you can, take a trip over the summer to make some awesome memories with your family and/or friends – in a new and different place! This can be as simple and short as a day trip to a different town, or as long as a multiple-day vacation to a different country. Especially when it’s done with a group of friends, traveling is a way to share something special and unique before you all head off in different directions for college.
2. Get ready for college
You’re about to take a huge step in your life – make sure you take time over the summer to prepare for it.
This is obvious – you have to make sure you dedicate time to both buy and pack what you need, as well as pack what you already have. Plus, don’t wait until the last minute to scramble and get everything together – take your time and gradually collect and pack items over the course of the summer. This will also give you time to remember additional things to bring to college, including some items you might not have originally thought to bring.
B) Connect with your roommate
It depends on how your college arranges housing – most should let you know who your roommate is at least a little bit before you step on campus. Whether you get to choose who you’re living with – some colleges have a housing roommate selection Facebook group – or it’s assigned by the housing office, you should talk to them sometime over the summer to get to know them a little better, before you start to live together. You can also take time over the summer to collaboratively figure out room expectations, who’s buying/renting what item (mini fridge, microwave, etc.) and get each other excited for starting this new chapter in your lives.
C) Plan out your dorm room decorations
Figure out how you want to decorate your dorm room – or at least your side of it. Are you bringing posters? Photos? String lights? Pinterest and Instagram can come in handy for brainstorming decoration ideas. While you might not know the exact layout of your room, you can still plan a little and have some idea of how you want to decorate (and what to pack to do that), as opposed to winging it on move-in day.
D) Get a job
There are a lot of expenses – some expected, some not – to pay for when you get to college. This includes things like groceries, weekend trips and activities, and textbooks. While how you pay for those might depend on what you talked about with your parents (see 1-A), it can’t hurt to get a summer job so you have a little extra money to spend in college.
E) Clean out your things
A period of significant transition – like going off to college – is a great time to look at what you have and get rid of some things. Go through your clothes and school supplies especially, to see what you no longer want or need. That way, you can make room (and maybe even money, if your stuff is still in sellable condition!) for new things for college.
F) Develop positive habits
Another great thing to do during a time of change is to create new habits. These can include figuring out a productive and effective studying schedule, starting a new workout routine or committing yourself to waking up earlier – all things that can help you be your best in college.
G) Go to the doctor
Before you head off to college – where your doctor likely won’t be close by and the local doctors’ office won’t be familiar with your medical history – make sure you take care of any important updates and refills. Ensure that you’re up to date on any vaccines, change (if needed) or refill any prescriptions and conduct any medical tests that you need to.
H) Create a resume document and LinkedIn account
These are both important when it comes to job fairs, as well as internship and job applications. While you have the time, put them together now. That way, you won’t have to rush to put them together the night before the fair or an interview (especially when you’ll already be busy doing other things at college) – you might have to just add or edit an item occasionally.
Make sure you take time to sit back and take a breath – after all, it is summer vacation!
A) Do something fun that you put off all school year
You probably started something last summer and meant to continue doing it during the academic year, or you wanted to do a certain something during the school year, but homework, tests and school got in the way. Now that you’re finally out of school for the summer, and before college starts in the fall, do it! This can be anything fun that you got too busy to do – learning a language, finishing knitting that scarf or reading a book.
B) Find a stress-relieving hobby
School can get stressful – it probably happened occasionally in high school, and the same is going to happen in college (if not more frequently). When your to-do list seems unending and your homework piles up, sometimes you need to step away for a few minutes to do something that calms you down. Use the summer to figure out what you like to do that, when stress hits, you can use to take a short break.
C) Spend time by yourself
This is especially important for the introverts. For the most part, unless you have a reason to necessitate one or you get lucky, you won’t get a dorm room all to yourself – especially freshman year. You’ll most likely have one – if not more than one – roommate. Now, if you have your own room at home, you may not be used to sharing a room with someone else – especially (as it most likely will be in college) a stranger. So, take advantage of the space you have now, and enjoy spending a little time by yourself.
D) Write a letter to yourself
This last item can be fun to do if you enjoy looking back at how much you’ve changed over a period of time. Write a letter (typed or handwritten – it doesn’t matter) for you to open after you graduate college. It can include things like who you are now – who your friends are, what you like to do, what kind of person you are now – as well as your hopes for college. Then, after you graduate, you can take out this letter (if you remember that you wrote it!) to see what’s changed and if what you hoped for came true.
Whatever you do – whether you take these suggestions or not – make sure you take advantage of the summer before college. After this one, your future summers will likely involve internships, jobs, research projects or summer classes, so make sure you make the most of the summer before college.