As you’re finally coming down from the caffeine high you’ve been on the past few weeks for last minute assignments and finals, you’re going to come to the realization that it is in fact summer. And while summer is a free block of time for college students — that can be a problem within itself. Wait — you don’t have a 10 page paper to write, or six chapters of quantum physics to memorize?
While college offers many rewarding experiences, if you’ve got your nose in a book the entire year, by the time summer rolls around, you may actually forget how to have fun.
So if you’re vigorously nodding your head, agreeing with what I’ve said above, or your mind is drawing a blank on what you can be spending your time on this summer, then say no more. Whether you’re going to be juggling multiple activities, working to make some extra cash, or you’ve got the entire summer free, here are some ideas that will help to make this your best summer ever.
There’s nothing better than getting those philanthropic juices flowing like going out and helping your fellow man, animal or species of tree. Volunteering is something that can be personalized to meet your interests and schedule, and is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. But don’t feel like you need to single-handedly save an entire nation. Even the smallest efforts, like picking up garbage in your local park or planting a tree can have a huge impact. Not a huge fan of the outdoors or you want to volunteer in the comfort of your own home? Not a problem. There are currently sites, like Sparked, that allow you to use the unique skills and talents that you’ve gained in school, to complete volunteer projects online.
Pressed for time this summer, and really can’t carve out time for volunteering? Then there’s a way to give back, just by going out and doing your normal shopping. Sites like Common Kindness work with popular retailers to offer you coupons, with some of the proceeds of the items purchased going to the charity of your choosing.
Take on an internship
Looking to gain some valuable job experience, keep your skills fresh, and potentially make some money working in your field this summer? Then consider taking on an internship. Many excellent companies and corporations offer summer internship positions for college students. While some are paid, and others are not, this is the prime opportunity to get your foot in the door, network, and find out if you really want to be a PR exec, computer tech or a rocket scientist. College campuses often have listings in their student services offices of businesses looking for interns in your area, as well as companies listing the internships on their website. Not sure if a business or company you want to work for is taking on interns? Then ask them. Chances are, they’ll be happy to have someone excited to work with them, and you’ll get the experience in a company of your choosing.
One word to the wise on internships is this: make sure you have time for all of the duties and expectations as an intern. The last thing you want to do is promise your services as an intern, only to later leave because you’re swamped with summer classes, or you want to spend more time on the beach.
Take summer courses
Speaking of which, did I mention taking summer courses? While you may be dreading even the mental image of sitting in a classroom in the summer heat while your friends are at the beach or sleeping in, there are some considerations to be made in favor of summer classes. Despite the fact that summer course offerings tend to be smaller than the fall and spring semester, the summer can be the perfect time to focus on harder courses, and get them out of the way, so you won’t have to worry about them in the hectic semesters ahead. You’ll definitely be thanking yourself your last few semesters when you have a lot to plan for, and a lighter course load could come in handy then.
In addition to the benefits of getting the classes done and out of the way, there are even programs where students can study abroad during the summer. Not only do these opportunities fulfill your class requirement, but they can be a highly enriching and exciting experience.
Start some friendly competition
Whoever said that some friendly competition never hurt anyone must have had some great summers. While you should never make your summer, or any stretch of time, purely about competition, having some fun events with your friends over the summer can bring about some friendly competition that kicks things up a notch. Have some great activities that your group of friends enjoy, or haven’t tried yet? Now is the time to coordinate these plans, and see which one of your friends can complete the most aforementioned fun activities, a “summer Olympics” of sorts. You can make it an excuse to get together with your friends often over the summer, and you will have the ability to try new activities and make memories that will last.
Do something you told yourself you’d never do
Much like the friendly competition, take the time to do at least one thing that you told yourself you’d never do. The summer is meant to be a time of fun with your family and friends, and by pushing yourself to try something new, or something you shied away from in the past, you’re opening yourself up to new possibilities. One should always exercise caution when trying this new thing, and make sure that you’re not breaking any laws. While doing new things is fun, being behind bars isn’t, and I’m sure your parents would agree with that sentiment. Besides, those mug shots will haunt you for years to come, so be careful!
Go on a road trip or vacation with friends
Have you ever been itching to go on an adventure, to just get away for a while? Well, the summer is a prime time to do it. Planning a road trip or vacation with your friends is exciting and exhilarating, and can be the chance to visit a favorite locale, or a new place entirely. Whether it’s just a one day drive, or a week out camping in the woods, getting out and experiencing life, and what new places have to offer is one of the benefits of being a college student. Stumped as to where to go on this road trip? There are many festivals, concerts and events, like Burning Man, that you can attend and make a road trip destination. Make sure that you do enough pre-planning, and that you have the money and supplies that you need, so you’re not calling Mom and Dad to pick you up at a motel out in the middle of nowhere. That could quickly turn the best summer ever into the most broke, most in trouble summer ever.
What’s the most important thing that you can do, to make this the best summer ever? Just relax! Taking time to step out of the normal hectic pace of life, set aside time for yourself, and recharge your batteries for the fall is exactly what you need. Whether it’s a nap, sleeping in, meditating or lounging by the pool, make sure that you’re feeling as relaxed and zen as possible so you are ready to go when the new semester starts and the craziness resumes.
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