How to Prepare for Your First Summer After Freshman Year of College

Whether you're excited about summer break or anxious (or both), here's how to make the most of it.

Whether it feels like it or not, summer is quickly approaching. Most colleges let out in the beginning to middle of May, meaning we only have about three months left, people!

You might be sad about having to leave all your college friends, or you might be looking forward to getting to spend a few months back in your hometown. Whatever your feelings about the approaching summer may be, now is the time to prepare, so you can have the best summer ever.

1. Lock down a job

Depending on where you will be living over the summer—in your college town, back home, or even out of town or country for an extended stay—you should make sure you have a job lined up. Start applying for internships or co-ops near where you will be living over the summer, or reconnect with past employers to see if you still have a position available to you when you return. While summer is about relaxing from the stressful year, it’s also a very good time to get lots of work hours in and save some money so you can come back to school the next semester with some spending money—or, ya know, tuition.

2. Sign up for summer classes (if you need them)

You should work with your academic advisor or counselor to figure out your four-year plan for college early on. It’s important to know if you can fit all your required classes into your semesters at college or if you need to supplement them with summer courses, either through your university or maybe a local community college. In either case, you’ll need to be proactive about signing up for the summer classes you need. Keep track of when your community college posts class schedules so you know what is available and which credits transfer successfully, and so you have time to research which professors are good to take! If your college requires you to get approval to take classes from outside institutions, starting now will give you enough time to get all the paperwork and approval handled.

3. Figure out where you’ll be living next year

Most colleges do their housing selection process pretty early in the spring semester. If you haven’t done it already, you’ll need to decide if you’ll be living on campus, commuting from home, or renting an apartment or house near campus. In renting situations, it’s important to start early—like, a year in advance early—so you can do research and find the best place to live. Keep in mind that many rentals will only do 12-month leases, so you may be living in your new place over the summer if you begin your lease right away. Now is the time to start talking to potential roommates and your parents about where you’ll be living and who will be paying for what. It’s definitely financially beneficial to rent a house or apartment with multiple people to keep costs low, so find some friends who are on the same page as you and start searching!  

4. Begin packing

This may seem crazy, but it’s not a bad idea to start packing now. Why? Remember all those things you just had to bring with you to freshman move-in…that you never really use…but also never brought home? Whether you’re getting home by plane, train, or automobile, packing your whole dorm up and transporting everything to your place of residence for the summer is just as big an undertaking (if not a bigger!) than moving everything in. Start prioritizing your belongings and figure out what you can start moving early, if you have the opportunity to go home a few times before the year ends.

This is also an opportunity to weed through your belongings and donate or sell some of the items you don’t really use. Lots of clutter can acquire over the course of the year, so it’s good to clean everything out and organize your dorm beforehand, so you move home with the least amount of stuff possible. Some of my out-of-state friends went in on a storage unit together their freshman year, since they were going home to much warmer states for the summer and definitely did not need to lug home winter boots and jackets on a plane! Plus, why struggle to transport dorm furniture or fridges that you won’t use all summer when you can just leave them where they need to be next year? 

5. Enjoy campus life!

Going back home for the summer can be a pretty big transition for first-year college students. The rules (or lack thereof) and freedom you enjoy on campus, plus having all your best friends five minutes away at all times, are things a lot of students take for granted until they return home and start to miss all the great things about campus life. Over the summer, you may find you miss always having something to do or your fave 24-hour coffee shop, but you may also savor being able to sleep in your old bed or hang out with your dog every day. Remember to enjoy the last few months of the semester and finish strong academically, so when you return in the fall, you are prepared to have another great year!

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About Krysten Gross

Krysten Gross is an Elmhurst University student from the Chicagoland area. She's a big fan of social media, reading, listening to music, and singing loudly and poorly. She has loved her college experience thus far and is excited to share the knowledge she's picked up on the journey!


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