Cruise Ship

How to Make the Most Out of Your Last Summer Before Sophomore Year (And Why You Should Start Planning Soon)

DISCLAIMER: This article was planned and written before the COVID-19 outbreak hit the United States. Since we can't predict how many social distancing precautions we might still need to take in a few months and every state might be dealing with the crisis differently, please keep in mind that not every category on this list could be a realistic option this summer. The world is in a state where it's impossible to predict how quickly our situation is going to improve, but I hope you'll still take some of this advice into consideration even if you might not be able to follow it when the time comes. In the meantime, wash your hands, stay safe, and stay positive! We're all in this together :)

If you’re a freshman reading this, I know it sounds weird to start planning your summer out right now. We’re in the beginning of May and there are so many more things going on, so it’s overwhelming to even think about preparing for your break. But if you think about it, this is the last summer for many of us that won’t be occupied by classes or co-ops. If you’re not already going to be on co-op or doing research with the STAR program, here are some tips to fill all that free time and really take advantage of your last summer off — just remember to plan in advance.

  1. 1. Organize Reunions With Old Friends

    Having an extra long summer break gives you the perfect opportunity to meet up with all the people you haven’t been able to see in quite a while. Drexel’s quarter system means that our breaks don’t often match up with those of our friends on the semester system, so make sure to take advantage of the time you both have off. Plan a trip, buy tickets to a concert or music festival, or just find some time to get together and catch up! ALTERNATIVE: If you aren't able to meet up with your friends in person, FaceTime, Zoom, and Netflix Party are all great tools to use if you want to connect virtually.

  2. 2. Start Searching For Jobs and Internships

    If you’re not already on co-op, having an open summer quarter opens up the opportunity to add some work experience to your resume, not to mention earn some extra money for yourself. There are plenty of full- and part-time jobs and internships out there, whether you’re looking within the city of Philadelphia or your hometown. The ideal situation would be to find a position related to your major, but don’t worry if you don’t. Taking on more traditional summer jobs, like working in a restaurant or being a camp counselor, can still benefit you in the long run. ALTERNATIVE: You might want to research positions that have you working from home or otherwise remotely. These can still be just as much of a learning experience as an in-person job or internship!

  3. 3. Schedule Co-Op Interviews (If You Need To)

    two women having an interview

    If you’re on the fall/winter co-op track, there’s a high chance you might have to apply for co-op positions over the summer. Although it might seem overwhelming to think about going on interviews right now, you should still make some time in your schedule for them. ALTERNATIVE: Organize FaceTime, Skype or Zoom interviews if you aren't able to make them in person.

  4. 4. Plan a Trip Somewhere You've Always Wanted to Go

    Taiwan Night Market

    It’s always a good idea to use your days off to visit somewhere new, especially if it’s a place that you've been meaning to check off your list for a while. If you’re able to afford it, coordinate with your friends or family to spend some time away from home, whether it’s a road trip or vacation abroad. You could end up making some really great memories! ALTERNATIVE: Plan your trips as close to the summer months as you can. By then, it'll be easier to predict how safe traveling is going to be. 

  5. 5. Get Ready to Check Off Some Items From Your Summer Bucket List

    Meredith Kress-Snorkel Bubbles Underwater Selfie

    Even though you’re most likely going to be prioritizing work or co-op, there’s no reason you shouldn’t make your summer a memorable one. A longer break is the perfect time to check off any item from your bucket list, so try out those new recipes, check out that new ride you’ve always wanted to go on, or accomplish a personal goal that’s been on your mind for a while. ALTERNATIVE: use the extra time you may be spending inside your house to check off some of the more long-term items off your list. 

  6. 6. Prepare For Your Upcoming Co-Op

    The Lalacoat Watch Brick Wall

    There’s a lot of planning in advance that goes into any new co-op or internship, especially since you’re going to have to get used to a brand new environment. Establish a list of things that you need to get done depending on the situation (For example, if you’re working in a more corporate setting, you might need to buy some more professional wear for your wardrobe). You should also make sure you have your living and transportation arrangements settled ahead of time before you start your co-op.

  7. 7. Plan a Vacation With Your Family

    Dino Reichmuth

    This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s always a good idea to get some quality time with your family when you can. Even if you’re occupied with work or other priorities, you deserve to have some stress-free time with the people you love; the key is finding the balance between productivity and relaxation. Although you and your family members might have different interests, try to find common ground on activities you can do together while you’re on vacation! ALTERNATIVE: The good news about being stuck inside at a time like this is that you have a lot more time to spend with your family members.

  8. 8. Look For Volunteering Opportunities

    Man holding puppy

    Whether your co-op resume could benefit from some more activities or you want to feel more involved in your community, it’s never a bad idea to do some volunteering in your free time. Local community centers or animal shelters can be great places to start. If you want, you could also branch out and find some organizations that tackle issues you feel passionate about. You don’t have to put in a lot of time into this one, either — even a few hours can make a difference! ALTERNATIVE: There are many online organizations you can reach out to and connect with as well.

  9. 9. Sign Up For Some Summer Classes or Work-Study Programs

    classrooom and students with a projector

    If you’re looking to get some gen-eds or other degree requirements out of the way before sophomore year, taking a few classes over the summer can go a long way, whether they’re online or on campus. If you’re eligible for work-study jobs on campus, those are also a good idea. Either way, you’ll be benefiting yourself in the long run, but try not to take on too much at one time — balance is key. ALTERNATIVE: Since Drexel's system has been moved online for the summer term, all classes will be taught virtually.

  10. 10. If You Can't Go Home, Get Ready to Explore the City of Philadelphia

    Philadelphia skyline - sunset

    This one’s mostly for international students, but if you aren’t able to spend the summer at home, this is the perfect opportunity to experience all the parts of Philly you haven’t seen yet. You can use your Drexel ID to get discounts at restaurants, museums, theaters, and other places that you might be interested in. You’ve got lots of time, so grab a friend and go out and explore what the city has to offer! ALTERNATIVE: It's hard to predict what will open up this summer, so make sure you do your research and take precaucions to stay safe before you go out.

You obviously don't have to make time for every single item on this list, but hopefully, you can take a few of these tips into consideration for a productive — and enjoyable — break before sophomore year. Good luck with all your upcoming endeavors, and hang in there — only a few months to go!