Congratulations— you are going to college! Now that you have committed and know exactly where you are heading in the fall, you may catch yourself in the awkward time period between high school graduation celebrations and making the move to higher education. Before the short summer slips away from you, it never hurts to start thinking about how you will spend this break. Here are some ways you can make the most of the summer before you begin college.
Now That You Know What College You are Attending, Get Invested
Obviously you did your research and went on tours when finding the school you have committed to, but now that you have made your decision, you have the ability to dig even deeper. Some easy ways to do so include:
- Connecting with your incoming class: You would be surprised how many incoming students you can find by searching hashtags relevant to your class year on social media (ex: #UR2026) or simply looking at people who follow your school’s general or admissions department social media pages. By scoping these out and sending out some follow requests, you are making the first step towards making some on-campus connections. Although this may feel intimidating, even recognizing a friendly face during Orientation Week is a major win! Don’t forget to join the admitted student Facebook group, too!
- Following organizations you are interested in on social media: Of course you likely follow your school on social media already, but have you ever typed your school’s name into a profile search bar and looked at everything that comes up? For example, if you type in “ur” or “uofr” into the search bar on Instagram, you will be met with hundreds of accounts for departments and student organizations at the University of Rochester. Start scoping around to see what departments and organizations you may be interested in and give them a follow. They typically post important information about meeting and semester plans that you do not want to miss if you plan on getting involved.
- Learn how to navigate campus using online resources: No matter where you attend university, getting your bearings and navigating campus can be tricky. Try searching for a map of your college on Google and then use this map to familiarize yourself with some of the names of buildings. During Orientation Week and move-in you will likely have a lot of directions and building names thrown your way, so any sort of familiarity can alleviate some of the stress that comes with figuring out traveling on campus.
This is just the start of how you can begin to dig a little deeper, but think ahead of what you might be doing in a few months from now on campus and find any information that is relevant to you. You may be surprised just how much information is available online. Most importantly, investing yourself further into your choice in colleges can get you even more excited about everything coming in the fall!
Work a Summer Job
Although many incoming first-year students plan on working on campus, finding job opportunities, applying, interviewing, and securing a position can take a little bit of time. That is why it never hurts to have a small sum of money saved up to help you navigate those first few weeks when you are finding the perfect campus job. If you have the ability to do so, working a summer job to save a bit of money can be an effective use of your time before you go to school. If you already have a job you work during the school year, look into if they will allow you to work until you go to school. Or if you are looking for summer employment, consider applying for seasonal positions that are flexible to the time window you have and understand that you will be starting college in the fall.
Additionally, it goes without saying that even having a bit of work experience from the summer can be beneficial when applying for campus jobs. For example, if you are a seasonally employed lifeguard back home, this could be a position that is easily translated to an on-campus job with your school’s athletics department.
Overall, think of the benefits a summer job could have on what you plan on doing when arriving on campus in the fall. If the idea of having some experience on your resume and some extra cash sounds appealing, putting in some hours into summer employment could be your best bet.
Start Thinking About Packing Earlier Than You Think
We all do not like to think about it but we all need to confront it at one point or another. If college is your first extended stay away from home or if you are traveling far from school, deciding what to pack and figuring out logistics is no easy task. That is why the following two tasks are ones that can be started earlier than you think:
- Create your packing list: The beauty of creating a packing list early, perhaps at the start of the summer, is that you can add to it as other necessities to pack pop into your brain. You can also crosscheck your list with other friends or family members who have gone to college, or with lists available online. Additionally, the earlier you make a list, the earlier you realize what you have and what you need to purchase. Which brings us to our next point…
- Start your dorm shopping early: Millions of students begin college each year. To no surprise, your local department stores may run out of dorm essentials the weeks leading up to move-in, and shipping times for online retailers can be longer than expected. If you are traveling domestically and have the ability to transport all your items, consider planning out your dorm and buying essentials as soon as possible. If you are traveling to school, either domestically or internationally, and cannot transport everything with you, consider reaching out to your campus mail center. They can give you information on how to ship your dorm items directly to campus so they are there when you arrive. This can help save you the hassle of having to shop at local department stores during the pretty eventful time that is move-in.
Certainly there will be the items that you do not anticipate needing and will need to order after you arrive on campus. However, planning as much as you can over the free time of the summer will save you time during the busier first few weeks of college.
If College is Far From Home, Take Advantage of What You Will Miss
As sad as it can be, going away to school can be a lengthy amount of time you are away from the familiarities of home. With this in mind, think of the kind of things from home that will still be available to you while at school (for example, your favorite fast food restaurants) and think about what is unique to your hometown. While you still have the summer left, soak up all those favorite restaurants, shopping locations, hangout spots, and most importantly people that you will miss! All of these things will still be there once you return home, but it is still worth paying them some extra attention before you say a momentary goodbye.
And Finally: Celebrate and Relax— You Are Going to College!
Lastly, we understand that it is easy to say “get a job,” “start packing,” or “connect with classmates” over the summer. However, the one thing that should be top priority when building your summer schedule is to build in time to celebrate and relax— you are going to college after all! Getting into a school and putting in the work to make the decision as to where you want to go is no easy task. And you just completed this task while likely managing your final year of high school, a job, or other commitments. Before jumping straight into this next chapter, take some time to reflect and think about how far you have come. You deserve to relax too, so throwing a grad party, taking a vacation or even partaking in a hobby that makes you feel good is time well spent this summer as well.