Advising 101: How Best to Spend the Summer Before College—Great Ideas for High School Graduates

The summer before college can be a pivotal time for students, in part because finishing high school means they are one step closer to adulthood. While we at Green Ivy believe graduates should take time in these months to relax, see friends, and pursue the activities they enjoy, this can also be an optimal time for them to think more concretely about the transition to college in the fall.

Here are some ideas and activities for students to consider tackling over the summer:

Switch your mindset from high school to college. This is a big one, as most students will be living away from their parents for the first time, which means having to deal with everything from schedules to laundry. We recommend you start using a paper planner (if you don’t already) to track all of your commitments and to-do lists for the summer and carry that habit into the fall. Time management and organization are critical in college. Remember that, unlike in high school, teachers and professors will not be monitoring your class attendance and whether or not you’ve turned a paper in on time.

Participate in something that broadens your worldview. Traveling is one way to achieve this, whether to a foreign country or with a road trip in your state to a place you’ve never been. The same goes for taking a community college class or volunteering for a cause you believe in. Putting yourself in unfamiliar situations and making connections with strangers is fantastic practice for your early months on a college campus and will help strengthen your community-building skills.

Get familiar with your college before you get there. There will be several days of freshman orientation when you get to campus, but it can be overwhelming to get all of that information at once. It will help to do as much as you can this summer virtually, whether that means getting a feel for how far your dorm is from the main library to registering for classes and researching what books and supplies you will need.

Think ahead about your living expenses and your overall monthly budget. Now is the ideal time to start estimating what it’s going to cost you in housing and expenses on campus, and to think about where that money is coming from. Are you going to be living off of student loans, parental contributions, a part-time job, or a combination of all three? Looking at a realistic budget and carefully planning out where your money will go each month will help prevent financial missteps and worries down the road.

Create or update your resume. You might already have a resume or activities list, but using the summer months to draft a professional version to use at college for jobs or internships is a good use of your time. Consider taking a course in resume writing from a place like ReadWriteThink, and be sure to have someone proofread it for you as well.

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