For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Jun 30 2017
by Cassidy Jackson

12 Things to Do to Make Your Last High School Summer Great

By Cassidy Jackson - Jun 30 2017

It's summertime, so we've got to cue the cheesy High School Musical 2 track "What Time is It?" Cue Corbin Bleu wobbling his curly fro around. Cue Troy Bolton wearing way too much makeup for comfort and cue Sharpay's scheming. On my last day of high school after last period, "What Time is It?" blared through my school's intercom. It was officially summer, and boy was I pumped! The way I walked out of my school that day was straight out of any teenage sitcom revolving around summer. I felt blessed. I felt free. I had all these grand thoughts of what summer would be, and then BAM! The next day, I found myself sitting on my couch watching Netflix, stuffing my face with chips. Isn't that always how summer pans out? Well, not this time! I've got some tips on how to make your last high school summer as Sharpay Evans would say, "Fabulous."

1. Grow that brain.

For the past few months, I’ve had this vision and fantasy of me skateboarding through my college campus, being that cool skateboarding chick who just has no cares in the world. Problem is, I’ve never picked up a skateboard in my entire life, so needless to say, my skateboarding dream is on hold. Maybe you don’t share my exact skateboarding dream, but I’m sure there’s something that you've been wanting to learn. Is it that you want to learn some new and cute hairstyles before you go to college? Is it you want to learn how to roller blade (me too!)? Is it to learn about spirituality (same!)? Whatever it is, make it a priority to learn it by the end of this summer!

2. Go out of your way to do random acts of kindness.

I recently read this quote that goes, “Be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody,” by Robby Novak and personally, it reminds me of what each human being should strive to be. Building people up, instead of breaking people down. I've recently realized, though, that a lot of people don't feel the same. A couple days ago, I was on the subway heading to Chicago’s LGBTQ+ parade, and this girl sitting across from me degradingly commented on another human being by saying, “His disgusting trans ass, or whatever gross thing he is, is a motherf***er.” She said that as she was decked out in rainbow. How ironic.

That really got me thinking that we waste our breath so much on bringing people down behind their backs or to their faces, when we could use our energy so much more positively and powerfully. A big thing I’ve been doing is simply telling women I pass by, “You’re beautiful,” instead of just thinking it. The amount of times I’ve gotten congratulations from women for having the courage to say a compliment is actually sad. The amount of times I’ve gotten congratulated by women for being openly kind is even sadder. Take it upon yourself to just say or do something nice. It's quick. It's painless, and can bring another person happiness. 

3. Purge your social media.

A few weeks ago, my friend had me scroll through her Instagram page, and with each click of “Load More,” I was metaphorically stepping into a time capsule. Seriously, her Instagram was a hodge-podge of blurry selfies of her 11-year-old self. Internally, I judged, and externally, I voiced my judgement because that’s what good friends do. Social media follows you, and having posts from your childhood follow you into college isn't ideal! Personally, the only social media outlet I have is Facebook, which I got like four months ago, but if you’re part of the normal teenage population, you’ve probably had a diverse group of social media pages for years. When we’re younger, our judgement is skewed, very skewed. So, before you bring your social media along with you to college, I would recommend doing a little bit of tidying up.

4. Take time for YOURSELF.

In the summertime, it’s so easy to have a “go, go, go” mentality, especially the summer before college. We think we need to cram a ton of meaningful last moments with friends and family into a short three-month time frame. Yet, with that sort of mentality, it’s so easy to lose sight of ourselves. As we head off to college, it’s even more crucial to be confident in our skin, be proud of our mind, know our morals and so on. Not only that, but we’re all trying to solve the intricate puzzle called, “Who Am I?” To do it, you have to spend time with yourself, and don’t hesitate to listen to Beyonce’s “Me, Myself, and I” as you do it!

5. Run a marathon.

I know. I know. You probably wanted to personally hunt me down and kill me when you read this one, but seriously consider it. Running a marathon is on a lot of people’s bucket list, including mine, and what better time than now? Summers can oftentimes feel like a three-month long waste of our time, so signing up for a race can give us a sense of accomplishment. Plus, let’s face it. Once college hits us, our summers will most likely be packed with summer internships and jobs. So, why not take advantage of this free summer to check a hard task off your bucket list? And don’t you worry. I’m taking my own advice on this one and have signed up for a marathon in mid-October. Will it be the thing that kills me? Maybe.

6. Binge watch movies starring Lindsay Lohan (the acting queen of our childhood). 

Maybe this is another tip, like the running a marathon one, that makes you want to barf, but again, hear me out. We can’t deny that Lindsay Lohan was in her acting prime during the Mean Girls era. Think about it! We had Herbie: Fully Loaded, Freaky Friday (classic!), Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (again childhood classic!) and Life-Size a little before (another childhood classic, which is gonna have a sequel!). Needless to say, when I think of Lindsay Lohan, I think of my childhood. Why not reminisce and travel back into those childhood loves? It's important not to completely cash in the child-like part of yourself for adulthood. So, sing Troy Bolton's "Bet On It" song like your life depends on it! I know I did yesterday, and I will be doing it again! 

7. Write a love letter ... to your parents.

This needs to be one of your summer priorities for sure, because as we open the college chapter of our lives, we’re unconsciously leaving our parents behind and taking control of our future (scary!). No more of our parents’ 10 p.m. curfews. No more sharing the TV with our parents. No more asking our parents for permission to hang out with friends. No more. Whether your parents show their sadness about this fact by being super clingy, not showing any emotions at all or yelling at you 24/7, the fact is they’re sad. Writing them a long winded, detailed letter explaining their importance to you will serve them as a reminder of your love from them.

8. Eat healthy and workout ... blah blah blah.

Yeah, I know. This one is totally cliche, and you’ve heard it a million times before, so, I’ll leave you with one question. Do you want to gain the freshman 15? Didn’t think so, so start those healthy habits before you hit the campus.

9. Have a photo shoot with the squad.

Photo shoots are the weirdest thing to me, because when you think about it, it’s just you awkwardly trying to model (when you can’t) in front of a camera. It’s completely posed, not organic. Not real life. But there’s no denying that photo shoots work magic for confidence, especially if you do it with friends. I mean, almost every girl has those friends that stand on the photo shoot sidelines screaming, “Work it! Owww Owww! Hottie!” and it just makes you feel like Beyonce. On top of that, in the aftermath of it all, you’re left with a mass amount of high-quality pictures. From one photo shoot I did with four of my friends, I walked away with over 500 pics. It’s insane. You walk out with hundreds of pictures, a great bonding memory and a bit more confidence and pep in your step. It’s a win-win.

10. Spill your true thoughts about people. 

You have a mere three months before you head off and create a new life, but before you go, tell people how you genuinely feel about them. If you had a crush on the Sk8er Boi at your school, tell him for the fun of it! Tell your psychotic parents that you love them, when they’re not psychotic of course! Tell your friends that you love them! Tell that girl in your old English class that she was the biggest jerk and should be more considerate! Tell your favorite teachers the impact they had on you! Because just think about it, what can really hold you back now?!

11. Shop till you drop (thrifting style).

With college on the horizon, our broke future is quickly sneaking up on us. We have four plus broke college years to look forward to and more broke years following that. So, we might as well get ourselves into the broke, ramen noodle mindset ahead of time. I’m not the eating out type, but my problem does lie in shopping. I love shopping! Who doesn’t? The solution to my shopping woes and pocket emptiness: Thrifting. Since summer started, I’ve been a, how should I call it? A thrifting fanatic of sorts. At least twice a week, I’ve been heading to the city with friends or riding solo and hitting up an array of Salvation Armies, Goodwills and Savers, and I’ve been loving the thrift life. It’s a bit of a dirty business, so make sure you have that hand sanitizer on hand!

12. Take self-defense classes. 

Safety is a number one priority and at the same time a concern. I mean we’ve all seen the news. College campuses are crazy! Whether it be robberies, rapes or murders, college campuses can be dangerous territories and if yours is situated in the heart of a risky city, you’re put at even more of a risk. I know I sound like a legit mom, but seriously! I’m definitely going to have pepper spray on me at all times and keys protruding from my fist if need be, but I also really want to take a self-defense class before hitting campus. I think it’s a smart idea! It’s not the most exhilarating way to spend part of your summer, but it could potentially be the most rewarding. It could easily be the difference between something horrible happening to you and avoiding a scary situation altogether.  

We all want our summer to be poppin', and I hope these tips can help make that a reality!

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Cassidy Jackson - Northwestern University

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