By now, chances are good that you’re done with your college applications, with the possible exception of rolling admission applications. But, because you probably haven’t received any answers yet (unless you applied early decision or early action), it might now feel like you’re sitting around twiddling your thumbs. The application crunch is over, you’re back in the swing of school after winter break, and you can’t yet start planning your college career since you don’t yet know where you’re going.
Luckily, there’s something else you can focus on to take your attention off the waiting game! The summer before college can be an amazing time, and there’s no reason not to start planning it right away. At best, these few months will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience of the perfect combination of familiar, comfortable, and fun experiences with new, exciting opportunities for growth.
There are tons of awesome lists out there with specific recommendations for exactly what to do with your summer. Instead of replicating those, let’s take a different approach. Think of your summer like an essay. Use the questions below to create your general outline. From there, it should be easy to fill in the details!
Time at Home Versus Exploring Your Next Home
You probably don’t yet know where you’re going to school, so this one can be tough to answer exactly. Even so, it’s worth coming up with a general idea of how you want to split your summer. Do you want to dash off to your new college town as soon as you can? Stay at home until the last possible minute and get to your new home as late as possible?
Chances are, neither of these extremes will be exactly right for you, but take some time to consider a general area on the spectrum where you’d like to fall. Maybe you’d like a couple weeks in your new college town to get acclimated before classes start, for example, or maybe you only want to stay at home for a couple weeks to say your goodbyes and pack.
Make New Friends, but Keep the Old
One of the most bittersweet parts of approaching university is the sudden awareness of your high school friend group. Realizing that it will never be like this with these people again may make you appreciate them more than ever before. It’s important to make time to spend with these people, having fun, relaxing, and cherishing these final moments of this phase of your life.
At the same time, remember that these people will probably stop being your primary social group very soon. You may want to spend part of your summer making connections that will go to college with you. For example, do you know of anyone in your high school who has the same dream schools as you? If so, this can be a great time to reach out and get to know them better, so you’ll already have some friends in place if you end up going to the same schools. This also ties into your decision about when to move away; the opportunity to make friends before classes start can be one factor that points to going earlier than necessary.
Balancing Growth with Relaxation
You’ve just come through some pretty stressful times with college applications, every college decision, and life choices, and at this point it may feel like you’re careening toward your adult life with this summer as the last opportunity to really relax. If so, you’ll be glad to hear that it’s definitely important that you recharge and relax before going to university. You want to show up rejuvenated, excited, and ready to learn — not exhausted from pushing yourself too hard all summer. Make sure you plan some time over the summer to relax in a way that works for you, whether that’s by playing sports, hanging out with friends, or even watching TV or playing video games.
Don’t relax so hard that the whole summer gets away from you, though. There needs to be some growth in there too. This doesn’t need to be boring, and can take lots of forms depending on your interests. Read great books, take a class or two in a subject that interests you, volunteer, get a summer internship, take a part-time summer job… the possibilities are pretty much endless. What matters is that you’re learning something new and keeping your brain active so it’ll be ready to go once your university classes start.