The last summer before college is a downright surreal time. For some, it can be scary and stressful, like standing on the edge of a mysterious cliff. For others, it’s exciting. Either way, you should add some items to your to-do list to get the most out of these last months of “freedom.”
There are two main things to do during the summer before college: get prepared and have a good time. It’s all about balance!
Tie Up Loose Ends With Financial Aid
The beginning of summer is a great time to get the more stressful college prep stuff out of the way. Hopefully, you’ve already filled out your FAFSA and gotten your financial aid package from your new school. If not, you need to do that ASAP!
Check in with the financial aid office to make sure that everything is in order and no paperwork is missing. Additionally, if you’re taking out student loans, go over your loans to make sure that you’re only borrowing what you need.
Practice Your “Adulting” Skills
You’ll be on your own soon, so this is a good time to learn how to cook, budget, do laundry, and all those other tedious but necessary adulting skills. If you’re lacking any of these skills, practice at home, ask an adult caregiver or hit up Google for some pointers. This will help you avoid any hilarious but ridiculous mishaps later.
Prepare for Your Classes
You’ll need notebooks, folders, pens, highlighters, and a working laptop. If you want to stay organized, a planner is also a good idea.
Also, some colleges require summer reading for incoming freshmen. Fun, right? But it’s better to get it out of the way early so you can enjoy the rest of your summer before college in peace. In the same spirit, reach out to your professors after you’ve registered for courses so they can send you the required textbook list. The sooner you buy, the better deals you’ll find.
Find Your Roommate on Social Media
Got a roommate? Once you receive their name, look them up on Facebook, Instagram or another social networking site. Add them as a friend and strike up a chat. It’s much less nerve-wracking to move in with a stranger if you already know that both of you are obsessed with Cardi B.
If you don’t have roommates, look for an “Admitted Students” group on Facebook to find other incoming students.
Go to Orientation
Speaking of making friends! Orientations are a great way to meet people. They have other perks, too – most orientations offer the opportunity to register for classes, learn about school policies and resources, and figure out the lay of the land. That makes you less likely to get completely lost on the way to chemistry class.
If your school offers any orientations for specific demographics, like one for students of color, you should absolutely attend those too. These events will help you find your people and feel less alone as you adjust to your new surroundings.
Shop for Your Dorm Room
If you’ll be living in a dorm, buy some affordable furniture and decorations to make your room feel like a home. Target is golden for dorm room supplies. Cute throw pillows, a shower caddy, photo frames … All of these things will help you settle into your new place more easily.
Earn Some Cash
If you’re worried about filling in the gaps between financial aid, scholarships, and loans, then look for a chill part-time job for the summer. The earnings can help pay for textbooks, groceries, entertainment, tickets home and other costs that you might not have accounted for ahead of time. It’s much easier to focus on one thing at a time, so if you can avoid having to work during the school year, do it!
Enjoy Your Friends and Family
Homesickness can strike at the most unexpected times. Take some time to do all of your favorite things with your high school friends and your loved ones – even (or especially) the simple things. Write down a “Last Summer Before College Bucket List” with all of your go-to hometown activities, and check off every item before you leave. You’ll remember these moments, promise.
Also, consider making a deal for how often you plan to come home or host visitors. Knowing when, exactly, you’ll get to see your loved ones again is helpful for curbing homesickness.
Decide What to Pack
As your last summer before college comes to a close, it’s time to sort through your belongings and decide what to bring to school. This is the perfect time to start fresh and get rid of those jeans that you haven’t worn since fifth grade. Make three piles – one for school, one for home, and one for donating or selling. Marie Kondo, anyone?
If you notice any major gaps – for instance, if you’ve never owned gloves but now you’re going to school in New England – then you can fill them as you pack.
Kim Wong-Shing is a writer in New Orleans. She has a Bachelor's degree in Education from Brown University and a Master's degree in Education from Bank Street College. She worked as a teacher for four years before transitioning into full-time writing. Kim has also written for Lifehacker, LittleThings, HelloGiggles, and a variety of other outlets.