With seemingly endless months of summer vacation stretching out in front of you after four grueling years of high school, it can be tempting to spend your pre-college summer with Netflix and a tub of Ben & Jerry’s. But while I’m all for re-watching all six seasons of Gossip Girl in one (regret-filled) week, I do think we need the occasional break from summer laziness and lethargy, especially with the transition of college just on the horizon. Here are 10 things every high school graduate should aim to do before starting college!
1. Pick up a productive hobby.
With emphasis on the word “productive.” Far too often, summer, despite the absence of a timetable, can turn into a cycle of monotony. Having a hobby that challenges and rewards you will break this cycle, and help you work toward a goal. The best part is that you can continue a hobby in college, which will help break up stressful study sessions and even help you meet new people. So whether it’s knitting, photography or calligraphy, a hobby is sure to alleviate stress and add some fun to those quiet nights you decide to stay in.
No idea where to start? Skillshare is a site that offers thousands of online courses for free, from Chinese cooking to entrepreneurship. Choose one that sounds interesting, and say hello to your newly improved summer!
2. Start a bullet journal.
Bullet journals are great for setting the tone for an organized and accountable lifestyle in college. With no one handing out homework planners and no parents to supervise your spending, it’s imperative that you keep track of deadlines, finances, events and everything in between. A bullet journal is an efficient, if not easy, way to do this. And don’t worry, you don’t have to be an artist to start one. Here are some simple and easily-executed ideas to get you started on your bullet journaling journey.
3. Be a tourist in your own hometown.
It may seem like every other Instagram story features serene tropical beaches or stunning European architecture, but being a tourist in your own hometown can be just (OK, almost) as rewarding. Learn about your town’s history, explore restaurants and tiny, unknown art galleries and overall, look at the place you live in with new eyes. You’ll be happy to have cemented your relationship with the place you called home.
4. Learn a family recipe.
Any college-goer will tell you that comfort food is a must when living on your own, and what better to remind you of home than a family recipe? So while you’re learning to boil eggs and fry bacon this summer, be sure to learn how to make your aunt’s famous casserole as well. Not only will you be able to battle homesickness, but you’ll have a great alternative to ramen and takeout.
5. Give back to your community.
Giving back can take on many forms, from tutoring kids at your high school to volunteering at an animal shelter. The main idea is to make a positive difference, no matter what the scale, to the community that helped you get to where you are now. This summer, without the pressure of college apps or the need to add to your resume, you’ll be able to genuinely commit to what you do, and help a cause because you truly care about it.
6. Experiment with your look.
While you don’t necessarily have to replace your brunette curls with bright turquoise ones (props to you if you do!), there’s a reason people use the summer before college to try out the hairstyles, clothes and makeup looks they’ve always wanted. This is a time for transition, change and reinvention. So take the plunge, and odds are, you’ll be glad you did.
7. Get your health back on track.
I’ll spare you the lecture on the freshman 15, but since we’re already talking about reinventing ourselves, why not stretch that to cover health and fitness too? And yes, there’s an app for that! The Nike+ Training Club app gives you workouts and plans that are adaptable to your fitness level, equipment availability and how much time you have. So really, even if your current daily workout consists of a walk to the fridge, there’s no excuse not to start.
8. Read a book from your childhood.
I assume you’ll be reading plenty of literary classics, New York Times bestsellers and books related to your major this summer. Why not take a break from all that and curl up with a Roald Dahl or Judy Blume novel? After all, these are your last few months before you go off into the world of college and adulthood, so be sure to take some time to be a kid.
9. Clean out your room.
This is more of a practicality than anything else, but cleaning out your bedroom sets you up for a fresh start in college. Donate, throw away or recycle all those unnecessary things you’ve accumulated over the years (yes, even the participation medal from fourth grade) and give the room a thorough dusting. You’ll definitely thank yourself when you come back to for the holidays to a room that isn’t stuck in the past.
10. Write a letter to your future self.
Did you really think you could make it through an entire bucket list without running into an age-old cliché and a healthy dose of self-reflection? But as cheesy this one may sound, it’s always a good idea to take some time to reflect, especially with one of the biggest transitions of your life coming up. Write a letter to yourself that includes goals, fears, lessons you’ve learned and what you hope to achieve over the course of your college career. Place it in a sealed envelope and secure location, and don’t open it until you’ve graduated!
At the end of the day, it’s up to you if you do one thing on this list or all 10. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that after this summer, you’ll be starting a completely new chapter and leaving your childhood behind for good, so make the most of these next few months. You’ll never be this young again!
Lead Image Credit: Mohamed Nohassi via Unsplash