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What Should You Do During Your Last Summer Before College?

According to Google Analytics, the most popular post on my blog is my post Tips for the Summer Before College, which sort of blows my mind because that also might be one of the worst posts on my blog. I wrote it in May of 2014, only a couple months after I decided to blog daily. In true perfectionist nature, I feel like I could do better, so here I am, trying to one up myself.

My first summer before I moved to Cleveland seems like it was ages ago, but I'm fairly certain I spent that whole summer working, trying to see my friends as much as possible, shopping in bulk for random bits I knew I'd need around my dorm, and most likely a whole lot of stressing out. I mean, I was gearing up to live alone for the first time in my seventeen years on this big 'ole planet. Some things might overlap, just because I apparently did get some of it right.

1. Save up your money

You may or may not have a job when you stat off your first semester as a freshmen. I personally didn't get a job until second semester of my second year at school, which meant for groceries and spending money, I had to rely on whatever I had saved to get by. It's a hard knock life when you only have a certain amount of money that you can spend and you have to ration it. I babysat and did some office work the summer before my freshmen year. I had some graduation money from my high school grad party that summer, but all of that went towards my first tuition payment, so I didn't have that cushion to rely on.

It's never too early to set up a budget or whatever will help you keep your money in line. Personally, I don't use a budget because I know I can't trust myself to stay on it and then if I break my budget I'll get really disappointed in myself and start reciting the father/son monologues from any sports movie ever where the son yells, "It's not my dream, it's yours" and things will just be all around emotional. Where was I? Oh yeah, save your money, kids. Because let me tell you, you are not going to want to eat on campus every single day unless your campus is literally heaven and has the best food on the entire planet. Even if that was the case, you're going to want to venture out and get at least a damn Starbucks drink at some point, which might as well be $200.

Bottom line: at some point during your freshmen year, you're going to need money. You might have nice enough parents or family members to bail you out, but you also might not. Save your money while you can. It'll save you in the long run.

2. Pack and prep for your first semester

I suppose this is all in relation to if you're going away for college. I think, in a sense, these tips could apply to any college experience, but this specifically might be geared more towards those who are living in the dorms. The worst thing you could do when it comes to moving away is to procrastinate. I've rummaged through that college section at Target towards the end of the line and it is #SlimPickings, let me tell you. Jump on that section early. You know you're going to need that stuff from the start. There are plenty of dorm checklists on Pinterest that you can mimic your list after. All of those lists want you to bring way too much crap, but it's a good place to start.

Shop for bits and pieces as the summer progresses. If you try to buy all of your stuff all at once, you're going to overwhelm yourself and tailspin into a panic about how old you're getting and how your life is going to turn into your old life while you move onto a new chapter. It's not a cute look, so spread out the inevitable shopping and carve a small area of your basement, spare room, whatever it may be, to start storing your college collection.

3. Spend time with your friends and family

In between saving your money and trying to shop so your dorm has some sort of proof that a human is occupying that space your freshmen year, spending time with the people you love (or tolerate...just kidding) at home is probably a good use of your time. You're probably going to get exhausted with all of socializing, but it's for the best. You're going to miss these people when you're gone and you'll cling to any memories you have of them while you're apart. You might as well spend some extra time with them and create new memories that you can look back on fondly.

4. Make sure your class schedule is accurate

I'm assuming that at some point during the summer, you're going to get your class schedule with at least your fall semester courses, if not your spring semester courses as well. I know you won't be super familiar with the system your school uses at that point, but maybe take a browse of your courses. Had I done this freshmen year and not just trusted that my advisor took all of my courses into consideration, I could've avoided taking two of the classes that I did.

I don't know what this would've done for me in the long run or if it would have made a huge difference, but it stinks to know that some of my money was wasted because I didn't take a chance to see that I already had those credits on my transcript. This might require a bit of time as you have to learn the ropes of the scheduling system that your college uses on top of following the specific course structure your declared major (if you have one) uses. Fear not though, because I know at my school it had requirements broken down into various sections. If you haven't declared a major yet there should be a list of plain old general education requirements that everyone at your college has to complete.

5. Enjoy your free time

Soon, your free time might become limited. This totally depends on how you handle the transition from high school to nothing to college. I can't say that this will apply to everyone, but college might end up being this insanely stressful time of your life that you need to learn how to manage. On the other hand, general education classes might be something that you breeze through. Nothing that I'm saying is going to apply to everyone, so I'm not sure why I'm making this disclaimer so late in the post.

I digress, relish in the fact that summer might be your last non-stressful period before college happens and explodes in your face. I know your summer might already seem full between working, shopping, preparing, hanging out with friends, and all that jazz...but you always have to take time out for yourself. If you can sleep in late, do it. Lay outside (with the proper amount of sunscreen that you continuously reapply!) and catch some rays. Read ten books. Read a magazine or ten. Do things entirely for yourself and let yourself enjoy what could be your last summer at home. Or, at least, your last summer before you're officially a college student.


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