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The summer before you go to college is more than likely going to entail stressing about buying your bedding and whether or not you do in fact need a shower caddy, but that’s not all it should be about. The best thing that you can do for yourself before being tossed into the sea of beautiful men and promising futures is prepare yourself for the little things and spend time with the people you love. This is a super odd time in your life because one chapter of your life has closed, but the other hasn’t quite opened yet — so capitalize on this in-between and do these 10 things before the packing and chaos consumes your days.
1. Spend Time With Your Family
Oh boy do I regret not spending as much time as I could with my family before I flew the nest. I spent the majority of the summer before I went to college with toxic people who didn’t deserve the precious time that I was giving them, but it wasn’t until the summer was over that I fully understood this. I reflected back and realized that I was a complete and total dumbass and had neglected the people who really did care the most about me.
It’s a sad reality that when you leave for college nothing will ever be the same. You won’t come home to a gourmet, home-cooked meal each night and a family who’s literally always excited to see you. I took this for granted, and like most things in my life, didn’t understand just how good I had it until it was long gone. So I beg of you to learn from this grave mistake and capitalize on the little time you’re going to have left with your family. Now, having been gone for a year, I relish in the time that I get to spend doing the dishes and gardening with my mom — which I would’ve dreaded in the past.
Although you might not realize it yet, your parents absolutely rock! They are far more funny and intelligent than you can imagine — and while this might not mean much to you now because you more than likely think they’re embarrassing old people — one day you’re going to wake up and realize that you had it so soooo good. But until that day comes, stop rolling your eyes when your mom pries about your social life and spend at least a few nights a week at home for dinner.
2. Get a Job
Most of us get some type of job while we’re in college, whether that be waitressing or lifeguarding, so if you’re already working then you’re on the right track. Getting a job before college has a lot of benefits (besides having extra cash, of course). While we’re on the subject of money, I’ll just say that the more you can save before you ship off to college the better — because before you know it, you’ll be fishing for change between the couch cushions at your friends’ apartments and wondering just how you became this freakin’ broke.
Jobs teach responsibility, which you’re going to need a whole heck of a lot of if you want to not only survive but thrive in college. A job can also teach you about punctuality, which is a necessary skill when it comes to classes (namely those dreaded 8 a.m. ones). You’re inevitably going to have a professor who locks the door exactly on the hour or a class that you have to get to early in order to get a good spot. When these situations happen, you’re going to be happy you had to get used to showing up on time and ready to work.
3. Prepare for Your Friendships to Change
Personal story time: I spent the summer before college with my best friend of seven years going on road-trips and wasting our weekends away at the pool. I thought she and I would be best friends for life and was so excited to take on college with her — which was something we’d been talking about since we wore sparkly Justice jumpers and still wanted green and blue bands on our braces. To my surprise, however, when we got to college she dropped me like a heavy sack of potatoes. The end.
I’m telling you this not to bum you out or convince you to leave all your friends behind when you move away, but rather to warn you of what might be coming your way. It’s nice to think that you will be just as close with your friends in college as you are now but in reality that’s not usually the way the cookie crumbles. They say you find your best friends in college, not high school, so just keep that in the back of your mind as you prepare to go.
4. Go on Adventures
OK, I know this sounds like a super cliche Nike shirt or Degree commercial but I’m being serious, get out in the world and explore! Once classes start, you’ll be so busy you’ll barely be able to tell up from down and this class’s homework from that one’s group project. If you thought high school flew by, just wait for the whirlwind that is college.
While you have the free time, do all the things that you want to do. If there are things you want to do specifically in your hometown that you’ve always talked about but have never done, I highly recommend that you do them now. When you come back you’ll more than likely be worried about getting a job and being wrapped up in the new friends you’ve made, or your love interest who lives three hours away — and forget all about those things you used to dream about.
5. Go to All Your Favorite Restaurants
And savor every single bite because you might not get to revisit them for what feels like eternity. Back at home, my friends and I used to go to this sushi restaurant named Sky at least once a week and stuff our faces. This is one thing on the list that I actually did take advantage of before I left (probably because I’m a fatty). While you’re bound to find places that equal and even surpass your love for these home-town eateries they will never quite be able to replace the spot they have in your heart — like Sky, in my case. While I just suggested that you go adventure I’m also saying that there should be a good amount of nostalgia done as well, and for me that was in the form of food.
6. Try to Get Your Shit Together
Major emphasis on the try…because I definitely wasn’t successful in my effort to get my life in order before I left and I turned out just fine. However, for some reason people think that when you decide to go to college you must automatically know exactly what you want to do with your life and what street you’re going to live on when you graduate and the spelling and pronunciation of your future children, but that is NOT how it really goes down.
I spent a good half of my summer crying in the car listening to my senior song — which I now realize was so very melodramatic but at the time it felt like the end of the world. I do wish I had thought a little more about what organizations I wanted to get involved with on campus and how I was going to try to differentiate myself in my classes. While I’m not expecting you to know your career path I would suggest at least feeling out some jobs that spark your interest because it’ll save you some major stress down the road.
A great way to test the waters of certain career fields is by getting an internship — which I’ve been doing for a little more than three years now. Internships are a great way to set yourself apart from the literal millions of other college students taking the exact same classes as you. And if you want to get into a good master’s program or any kind of medical school you’re going to need all the help you can get. So, if you can score an internship of any kind — paid or unpaid — I would definitely say do it. My time here at Earn Spend Live has allowed me to learn so many useful skills that I would never have learned on my own, and I know I’ll be better off in the real world because of it.
7. Start Doing Your Own Laundry
You don’t want to be stuck in your pajamas beating on the washing machine trying to get the stupid thing to work at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday night — yes, this is a personal story — do you? If you haven’t already started doing your own laundry then you should start this very instant. What’s actually a very menial task can seem like plugging in launch codes if it’s not explained to you. Don’t be like my friend DJ who didn’t know how to wash his own clothes so he just didn’t for a whole month until he went back home — that’s just lazy and stinky.
While I wish that there was just some magical machine that would throw in and take out your clothes and fold them for you that’s sadly not the case — you’d think if we have cars that can park themselves we would’ve figured laundry out by now. Also, if you start doing it at home now, before you go off to college, you’ll realize that laundry is really a breeze in college because you can get all three or four washers going at once and finish your clothes in a third or fourth of the time. Either way, this is a skill you absolutely have to have if you’re going to make it in college and the sooner you start practicing the better things will be.
8. Learn How to Cook(ish)
Unless you go to an ivy league (and maybe not even then), you will not have a cafeteria with really good food. The meals that my caf serves can oftentimes barely be classified as edible. When hunger strikes and all your choices either look like week-old meatloaf or over-cooked chicken, it’ll serve you well to be able to whip up something for yourself. One great thing about living on campus is that while you might not have a kitchen in your dorm or quad, there’s always a kitchen available to you somewhere near. So, over the summer, you should learn how to cook rice, spaghetti, chicken, or whatever kinds of comfort food you can easy assemble.
Not only will you be able to utilize your new cooking skills when you’re nearly starving because of the disgusting caf, but you can also show off for your friends or significant other. My friends and I had pasta nights at least once a month where we would make food together and eat around a tiny table with cheap wine we drank in plastic cups. While it wasn’t quite like eating dinner at home, it would bring us some comfort when school got hard and we didn’t have the time to drive home. If I had taken my mother up just once on the many times she offered cooking lessons I probably could’ve avoided overcooking the noodles and burning the garlic bread when it was my turn to cook… Learn from my mistakes, be better than me.
9. Take up New Hobbies
One of the very best ways to make friends and get plugged in to school — that doesn’t require selling your soul to a sorority — is by joining clubs. And you can’t even use the excuse that there aren’t any you’re interested in that because there’s literally a club for everything. At my school (which is a pretty small university) we even have larping (which is basically dressing up like characters and medieval fighting) and Quidditch clubs.
If you start searching for new hobbies over the summer you’ll be able to better decide which clubs are worth your time and which ones aren’t. New hobbies also broaden your mind and could even influence your career path — which bleeds into the whole getting your shit together idea so you can kill two birds with one stone. You can beef up your resume, make some new friends, and get involved on campus simply by signing up for a few organizations on campus (sign me up!).
10. Go to Parties
My final piece of advice for you this summer is to go out and experience all the things that parties entail a few times — responsibly. You don’t want to be that girl throwing up in the bathroom at a frat house your second night at college because you don’t know how to handle yourself. While I’m not saying that this hasn’t happened or will never happen to you, I am saying that it shouldn’t be because you didn’t know any better (knowledge is power). You’ll inevitably be exposed to partying in college because, well, it’s college, so all I’m suggesting is that it’s best to be prepared.