How to Spend Your Summer Before College
As the caps come off and the graduation celebrations begin, many high school graduates lookforward to the unbridled freedom of the summer before college. After twelve plus years of non-stop academic and extracurricular responsibilities, this summer provides a much-needed chance for students to unwind after a hectic year of college applications and before an exciting freshman year. Rather than sleep through the hot summer days, use your time to prepare for the year ahead.
Bring back the summer reading list. Most incoming freshmen have little to no academic work over the summer, making it important that they stay sharp for fall semester. Chances are that during high school, reading for pleasure fell to the wayside. With fewer responsibilities during the summer, pick up the novels you never finished, peruse new releases, and read the newspapers. In college you will be expected to do a considerable amount of reading every day, so practice skills like speed-reading, note taking, and summarizing beforehand.
Take the time to travel somewhere new. Freshman year is an adjustment for all students, but summer vacations can provide an opportunity to learn to adapt early. Incoming students are encouraged to travel over the summer, ideally with a program abroad, because they force students to be self-reliant when immersed in a new culture. Family vacations, both domestic and abroad, can be influential as well, especially if a trip to campus is planned. Think about organizing road trips with friends from high school to practice taking on new responsibilities.
Start thinking about your financial future. Incoming freshmen will have increased autonomy over their social lives and should have the extra cash to enjoy it. Look for work opportunities, be it in an employed position or through odd jobs around the neighborhood. Students and parents should open a college account with a bank located near both home and campus and discuss expectations regarding money and financial planning.
Get organized for a fresh start. With a new beginning on the horizon, incoming freshman should use their free time to get organized for the big move out at the end of the summer. Clean out closets and bedrooms and donate or sell unwanted relics of years past. In the virtual world, clean up your presence on social media in preparation of meeting new people in college. By getting organized early, students (and parents) will have an easier time packing for move-in day.
Take time to appreciate home. Regardless of whether you’re traveling across the country or around the world, take the time to show some love to your hometown. Once you leave, it may be weeks or months before you have the opportunity to come home. Eat at your favorite restaurants, shop in your favorite local stores, and spend quality time with your family. Visit old high school haunts with friends to reminisce about good memories and dream about the future.
Attend orientation (even if it isn’t mandatory). Every school has a unique approach to freshmen orientation, but you should plan on attending regardless. While many hold a mandatory orientation within the two weeks leading up to the first day of classes, some larger universities hold orientation much earlier in the summer over the course of a single day or weekend. Make plans for orientation in advance, especially if space is limited.
Last but not least, RELAX! As every recent high school graduate knows, it’s been a year of hard work, patient waiting, and celebration. Remember to take time out of the summer to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Go to the beach, hang out with friends, catch up on sleep – whatever you need to feel rejuvenated. A healthy balance between enjoying the summer and planning ahead is excellent preparation for the balance of college life.
Congratulations Class of 2013! Enjoy your summer – you’ve earned it!