These past two years in college have been the most transformative years I’ve ever had. I like to think I kinda sorta have my life together at this point (we’ll see how long that lasts 😉 ) and it all started the summer before I moved to Raleigh.
The summer in between graduating high school and starting college is one of the best summers. You never have to another AP summer assignment again, aren’t working full-time, and don’t really have any big *adult* responsibilities, so there’s all this freedom to pack your days how you want to. This summer is for you. It’s for gearing up to start this new chapter of your life and winding down the old one. It’s for putting in the time to figure out what you want out of life (though obviously this will probably change later). It’s for deciding who you’ve been and who you want to be. It’s reflecting on what changes you want to make to get all that you can out of life. It’s preparing yourself for this big life milestone where you’re going to live in a new place with new people, new responsibilities, and new freedoms.
Sound overwhelming? It’s okay. Today I’m sharing 12 things to do the summer before you begin college!
1. Contact your roommate (or find one).
Looking at this now…wow. Yay freshman move-in!
So funny story. I wanted a random roommate and got my assignment in May/early June sometime. I had texted my roommate-to-be probably three times and never got a response. I was so distraught, like how could she hate me already? Believe me, I brought this up at my friends’ table in class multiple times.
Well. Maybe two months into summer I get this email from her, introducing herself. You know, just that initial short, awkward “haha guess we’re roommates!” message you send trying to get a feel for this person you’ll be spending the next year with. No? Just us? Okay then. Back to the story. As it turns out, she listed her home phone number on our student portal and I had been texting a landline. Thanks Abby. Love you so much <3
Okay so maybe that isn’t so funny to anyone other than me. It’s fine..
But anyway. Reach out to your roommate! You don’t have to text all summer or get to know everything about each other right away; there’s plenty of time for that when you move in! Really, the main things you need to discuss are who is bringing what (rugs, microwaves, mirrors, etc) and any big rules you want to address (visitors, cleaning, etc). Abby and I had one little Skype session to go over these things and didn’t talk too much the rest of the summer. I like to say I truly met my roommate on move-in day and she quickly became one of my best friends in college!
2. Clean (and I mean really clean) your room at home.
I didn’t do a huge overhaul until after freshman year (and my dad will still say I have too much stuff), but at this point, you’re basically moving out. Unless you have plans to move back home at some point (which I’m personally against, but that’s a blog post for another day), treat this as your moving-out clearing-out. What I tried to do was get rid of anything I couldn’t see in my *adult* house, raising my own family. This system really worked for me, but I definitely need to do another intense run-through!
I also slowly get rid of more and more clothes as I come home over breaks, gradually becoming more willing to part with things I literally never wear. It’s easier after you’ve been gone for a year (and then two, three…) because you forget what you’ve left at home and realize you don’t really miss it! Again, I’m due for another closet purge, but hey, progress.
Doing all of this while you’re packing to move out can help you identify the essentials and leave less work for you when you go back to visit next summer!
3. Start packing.
Do you ever look back on photos of yourself and cringe? That’s what this post is doing to me.
I love to pack, so this was fun for me and I started getting things together pretty early. Our dining room was more like a storage unit all summer! Make a list of everything you need for your dorm, do your research to find the cheapest/best options, and go shopping! I spent days on Pinterest comparing packing lists, reading countless posts on what to pack/what to leave at home, and dreaming of cute storage options. And if you think dorm shopping is fun, wait until you go apartment shopping 😉
4. Get all of your doctors’ appointments in order.
Go to the ones you can over the summer and schedule the rest for fall/winter break! You can also find new doctors in your new city, but I kept my ones in Maryland so my Mom would call and make my appointments for me. I’m nailing this adult thing, right? 😉
Please don’t avoid the doctor, hoping you won’t die. I’m an anxious mess (especially since the last time I went to the dentist by myself, I got lost and wound up 2 hours in the opposite direction of my house…), but I know it’s important so I suffer through it. You need someone to help you keep tabs on things- stay healthy!
If the health plans/options on campus will work best for you, make sure you look into that too!
5. Go on a family vacation.
Okay, technically NYC was last year. I can’t remember what we did two years ago, sorry.
The summer before college was one of my last true family summer vacations. All the summers after this one will be full of internships and summer classes, so take advantage of the time and flexibility you have! Plus, quality time with the family and all that jazz. It may even make you even more excited to go to school (sorry fam 😉 )
6. Make an as-late-as-possible date with each of your friends.
Spend time with each of your friends individually. I’m sure you’ll see each other throughout the summer, but figure out each of your last available days before heading off to school and make that one extra special, just the two of you. It’ll be sentimental, but it’s a great send-off for new adventures! And remember, this isn’t goodbye. It’s never goodbye <3
7. Attend orientation and/or register for classes.
I personally didn’t have the greatest orientation experience, but it’s definitely a good opportunity to really get to feel like a student at your new school! Everyone is super open to meeting people and there is a lot of information (and fun) made available to you. Take advantage of all they pack into these few days, take your first leap out of your comfort zone, and fall in love with your new home!
8. Apply for scholarships.
I did not do this and I really regret it! Win all the money you can while your GPA is still amazing and you have time to write a great essay. Don’t ignore the “little” $500 ones either- those will add up and every bit helps! I mean, $500 can buy you textbooks for a year and still have a little left over for a burrito. No, I’m not bitter about it…
9. If you don’t already have a resume, make one.
You’ll probably need it for those scholarships anyway! I’m still completely taken aback by the number of college freshmen who’ve never made a resume before. I’m not saying mine was great by any means (it wasn’t), but at least have something you can update as you do more incredible things in college!
If you’re feeling ambitious, start setting up a LinkedIn account as well. It can take some time to complete your profile, so getting a good foundation now will save you valuable time once you’re in the thick of the semester! And yes, you do need a LinkedIn. More on that in a future post, promise!
Pro Tip: If you’re a mascot in the middle of summer, the walk-in freezer is your best friend.
A seasonal job (like a baseball stadium, I’m not biased…) or easy part-time job (with perks like free fro-yo, again totally not biased) will give you some extra cash while still allowing you the flexibility you’ll want this summer! Especially if you’re attending school out-of-state, you’re going to want to save all of the money you can. Don’t automatically shake off these minimum-wage experiences- there’s still so much to be learned from them!
11. Think about how you want to better yourself.
Like I mention here, my goal was to be someone completely new in college. I refused to live the same reputation I had built for myself in high school. To symbolize a new beginning for myself, I cut off probably 14ish inches of my hair. A week or so later, I got up in front of hundreds of people and delivered my best presentation ever. I went to the post-graduation midnight “after-party” even though it was definitely not my thing. I wanted to be more confident, less shy, and more willing to try new things.
Was I successful? To be honest, not like I’d imagined. I’m not where I hoped I’d be, but there definitely is a noticeable difference. The first few weeks on campus, I never ate alone because I would sit down with random people in the dining hall. I got to know the people next to me in class. I joined a sorority. I spent a week underneath a house, completely disconnected from the “outside world.” High school me would never even consider doing any of that. Don’t beat yourself up if nothing goes perfectly to plan. You’re where you’re meant to be, just keep going! Celebrate the small accomplishments, I promise they matter.
This won’t stop once you step foot on campus either. Two years into school, I changed my mindset. I started to branch out more. I went across the country with a group of strangers. I changed my intended career path. I can go to Target by myself now and not freak out. Like, who ever thought that would happen 😉
It takes time sometimes, but thinking about where you see yourself going can be so motivating!
12. Get excited!
Forget high school, college is one of the best times of your life! Buy a piece of university apparel. Explore your new city. Connect with students on social media. You’re going to have so much fun, learn a ton, and push yourself in ways you never imagined. This is certainly one of those times where it’s not the destination that’s important, but what you find on your journey along the way.
Best of luck, have the time of your life!!
~How are you spending your summer?