6 Ways to Make Your Summer at Home Meaningful

Hearing your friends talk about their extravagant study abroad plans or dream internship escapades for the summer can be sort of a bummer if you’re going to be at home. But that doesn’t mean your summer can’t be as exciting as theirs—even if it’s from the comfort of your hometown! We talked to some collegiettes about how they made their summers at home worthwhile so you can too.

1. Get a summer job or internship

The easiest and most economically rewarding way to spend your summer is at a new job. Not only is it a great way to boost your resume, but having a little extra cash is never a bad thing!

“Every summer during high school, I worked at a local grocery store and picked up some valuable cash handling skills,” says Johanna Howard, a junior at Auburn University. “It was only natural that I carry on my summer tradition by working there during at least one of my summers in college as well. It was fun and I got to see a few of my old classmates every now and then!”

This is a great option for collegiettes who don’t have the time to maintain a job during a regular school semester! But if you don't want to get a local job, try seeking out work or an internship in your field of study.

2. Take up a new hobby

This doesn’t mean you have to go out and collect rocks (unless you want to!), but finding a new interest can be a fun way to pass the time.

“My mom is really into photography, so one day during a boring summer, I was sifting through her photos and found myself wanting to take images just as beautiful as hers,” says Nicole Ferguson, a sophomore at the University of North Carolina. “She let me use one of her older model cameras and eventually I took enough photos to start my own photo blog!”

Revisiting an old hobby or passion you developed before leaving for college is another great way to cater to your inner creativity.

Taylour Sanchez, a junior at the University of Delaware, says, “In high school, I was heavily into sewing. Everything from pillows to infant clothing, I could make it. It wasn’t until some unforeseen circumstances happened that prompted me to spend the summer at home that I realized how much I missed sewing.”

While in college, sometimes it's hard to set aside some leisure time for yourself to do things you truly enjoy doing. The summertime gives you the perfect opportunity to do just that. 

3. Become active in your community

Getting some community service experience under your belt isn’t a bad idea, especially in your college years. Not only will it give your stay at home a purpose, but you’ll also be helping someone who’s in need.

“Last summer, I volunteered at my hometown’s food bank about four times a week,” says Gabrielle Brown, a senior at Vanderbilt University. “The coordinator of the program told me that they’re extremely short-staffed during the summers because most people go on vacations, so the fact that I’d decided to come in to help meant the world to her.”

If there aren’t any active service opportunities in your area, starting your own community service program shows you’re willing to go above and beyond to serve!

“I told myself before the summer started that I wasn’t going to waste it on my parents’ couch,” says Jacqueline Harris, a freshman at the University of South Carolina. “In high school, I’d put in a lot of service hours volunteering at my local library. It was a small facility so there weren’t a ton of books or events available for children, and I wanted to change that. By the middle of the summer, I’d done numerous fundraisers to raise enough funds to purchase over 200 books for the kids in my community.”

Related: 5 Nonprofit Organizations You Should Volunteer With This Summer

4. Learn a new skill

Whether it’s rock climbing or playing the piano, you’re never too old to learn something new!

“Over the years I’ve accumulated so many recipe pins on Pinterest, I figured a summer at home would be the perfect time to actually try making some of them,” says Alexis Hayfield, a student at the University of West Georgia. “My diet during the school year consists of ramen noodles and dining hall food, so learning how to make something that’s actually tasty was something I was definitely open to doing.”

While whipping up some yummy treats is right up our alley, another collegiette found a different approach to acquiring a new skill.

“I’m 20 and before last summer I had no idea how to swim!” says Felicity Tilman, a sophomore at the University of Florida. “It was so boring having to sit poolside instead of actually being in the pool with my friends at pool parties, so I took swimming lessons at my hometown’s YMCA. Not only am I no longer a sitting duck at pool parties, but I was able to score a sweet job as a lifeguard on campus!”

Who knows? Maybe your newly learned skill will open up some cool job opportunities for you, too!

5. Take a summer class at a local community college

Just because you’re at home doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend the summer doing leisure activities. Get ahead by taking one or two courses at your local community college.

“I chose to go back home one summer and take two of the prerequisites for my major at a community college,” says Janice Knight, a junior at Auburn University. “Because one of them was a math course and I’d heard the horror stories of students who’d taken the class on campus, I decided to save myself and my GPA from the torture.”

Not only will it save you a lot of money, but some colleges even offer online classes so you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your room. You could literally go to class in your pajamas and no one would know.

6. Go on a staycation

Similar to a vacation, a staycation can be done without having to leave your state, or even city. The best part about it is that you can literally make up your own schedule in deciding what you want to do. Lauren Dennis, a third year student at Georgia State University, recalls her staycation experience as a remarkable one.

"Living in Atlanta has its perks, and one of those perks is the abundance of local concerts offered throughout the summer. It's pretty easy to find some cheap—or free—tickets, and it's a great way to meet new people," says Lauren. 

If your town doesn't have a huge music scene, exploring different parts of your area that you've never been to before can be just as exciting. 

"Being from a tiny town in Oregon may not seem very exciting at first but I've found a lot of hidden gems just by doing a little research online," says Karlette Vincent, a student at the University of California at San Diego. "A couple of my friends were home for the summer as well, and we went out and discovered a couple of the lakes here. One of them even had a creepy abandoned house in the middle of it, so exploring that definitely made it a summer to remember!"

While the thought of going home for the summer can seem a little less than exciting, these tips from collegiettes who have been in your shoes can make your time away from campus much more bearable!