There’s one thing they don’t prepare you for when you’re getting ready to leave for college: the summer after your freshman year. What they don’t tell you is that the transition from your independent, action-packed dorm life to home can be just as stressful or confusing as your initial move to college.
After the tiring rush of final exams and move-out, the last thing you may want to do is create an agenda for your summer break. You’re finally home and it’s time to relax––why would anyone in your position want to get right back to work?
While it’s perfectly okay to sleep late, watch movies and enjoy some home-cooked meals your first week or two back from school, let’s face it: You will eventually get bored… and it will happen pretty fast.
Besides, it may benefit you in the long run to take advantage of your three months of freedom. Making a list of your wishes and goals for the warm season may be just what you need to stay happy and on task.
Sure, it can be hard to decide what you really want to do with your three months off. Should you take a summer class? Get a summer job? Apply for an internship? Here’s your ultimate guide to navigating your first summer back.
You know that you worked your butt off in college. Whether this was by excelling in your studies, leading or being part of a club or organization, or practicing a sport. You kept busy for months on end and deserve a break! First and foremost, make sure you take time to reward yourself now that you finally have the time to. Take yourself out for a tasty treat, spend a day binging a Netflix show you love, or take yourself out for a mani-pedi. Whatever you decide is the best way to unwind, just treat yo’ self, girl!
- Reflect on your year, and decide what you want to accomplish in the future.
Your first few weeks back from college are an ideal time to reflect on your first year and concentrate on where you’re going. Review how your school year went academically, emotionally, and socially. Did you accomplish what you wanted to while you were away? What would you change for next year? If it helps, jot down your thoughts in a notebook or journal––it may be easier to map out your plans for next semester this way. This is also a great method to stay organized and on track, and when you go back to school, you’ll have a solid game plan to start out with. Believe me, you’ll be grateful you did this!
- Spend time with family
It’s been so long since you had so much time at home! Make a point to spend quality time with your parents and siblings, and try to bond with the relatives you don’t see very often. They missed you just as much as you missed them!
- Reconnect with old friends…
Summertime is the BEST time to make plans with old pals from high school. Which childhood friends are home from school that you can meet up with? College may have set you on a different path than the one you were on before you left, and that’s perfectly OK. You don’t need to force yourself to be best friends with the buddies you had before college, but maintaining those connections will allow you to go out and have fun when you are back at home.
- …and patch up old wounds
Leave for college with skeletons in your closet? It’s never too late to suck the poison out of a bad situation or relationship. If you’ve grown in the past year and think you can be calm and rational, offer to meet an old foe for coffee or a quick trip to the mall. Finding closure at home will really help you start your summer on the right foot, and will make you feel lighter as you continue to move away from your past. Not to mention, it’ll help you prove to yourself that you’ve grown and matured since your high school days.
- Enroll in a summer class
Whether it’s to get ahead for next semester or to invest your time in something worthwhile, enrolling in a class you’re interested in at your local community college will keep you busy this season––not to mention, it’s probably dirt cheap compared to your fall and spring university classes.
- Get a summer job
Become a lifeguard, camp counselor, or even start scooping ice cream somewhere. It doesn’t have to be glamorous. Getting an average summer job is nothing to be ashamed of, and if you make it fun for yourself, it’s a win-win. Get the job, fill up your free days with hours, and then collect your cash! Saving up your paychecks for college loans or luxuries in general is a very smart move, and having job experience to throw on your resume will prove to future employers that you know the value of hard work.
- Try to intern somewhere!
It might be a good idea to shadow someone who’s working in the career field you’re interested in. If you need the internship credit to graduate, it may also be a good idea to get it out of the way while you’re not away at school. Get online and check out local businesses that may be looking for help, even if it’s unpaid. This is also a clever way to network during your off-season, so if you can snag an internship in time, awesome! If not, don’t sweat it––you’ll have time later on.
This is such a great way to cure your boredom, and you’ll also gain the satisfaction of helping someone in need. Food banks and animal shelters are always looking for a pair of extra hands, and you’ll feel amazing knowing you could help out.
- Pick up a side hustle
This will help you spend your time wisely, while also putting a little extra change in your pocket. Know someone who has a lawn they desperately need cut? Or how about that family down the street with five kids and a dog that needs to be walked? Or if you’re looking to commit a little more, try to find ways you can use your talents to make some extra money. If you’re a photographer, sell your photos to a local newspaper or blog (or even become an Instagram influencer!). Whatever you wind up doing––collect your coins, girl!
- Have a little fun
Do you have any hobbies or talents you kept to the side while school was still in session? Try to draw from your past to decide what kinds of activities you can do now that school’s out. This can be anything from writing a blog, to painting, or even just going for a bike ride. Try to get creative with this, too!
If you have the means, get in your car and drive somewhere new. This doesn’t mean dropping thousands on a tropical getaway. Is there a new restaurant you’ve been meaning to try or somewhere scenic you can drive to? Load up your playlist and get going.
Whatever you decide on, make the most out of your summer. Before you know it, you’ll be back on your grind!