By Jon Fortenbury, Schools.com
By Frank Oliver, Getty Images

Sit on bench before you head off to grad school. This will help you begin accepting the fact that such a leisurely, playful existence will not be your life.

The transition between earning a bachelor’s degree and starting grad school should not be an idle one. It’s also not an intense one. But if you go about it in the wrong way, you’re missing out on fun, Top Ramen noodles and academic preparation.

To ensure a smooth transition, here are 15 things you should do the summer before starting grad school.

1. Read for the sake of pleasure, with no deadlines and no deep analysis.

Trust me, you’ll have no time or energy to read beyond your school assignments come August so enjoy it while it lasts.

2. Do something irresponsible that someone can shrug off and say, “Eh, he’s in college.”

Because once you’re in grad school, people expect you to be mature or something.

3. Sit on a park bench and watch people enjoy their lives.

This will help you begin accepting the fact that such a leisurely, playful existence will not be your life for the next some-odd years. (Note: Do not watch children enjoy their lives at a park because people might think you’re creepy and call the police).

4. Begin easing into a coffee addiction.

Start with maybe a small cup a day in May and June, two cups in July and three to five cups in August. Because once school begins and you realize how necessary coffee is, you don’t want to do five cups right away, since your body may go into shock.

5. Keep your mind working.

Don’t let your summer be 100 percent dedicated to mindless fun activities. Balance those out with some intellectual challenges, such as starting philosophical debates with intelligent friends, to ensure your transition back into school is a smooth one.

6. Travel to Europe or India or some other culture.

Let this be both a payoff for doing well during undergrad and an experience you can bring into grad school that will make you a more well-rounded student.

7. Do a friends tour, before you all start careers or move away or start online grad school.

Now’s the best time to be “sent off” or given a blessing by those you cherish the most. Plus, a free couch to crash on while traveling is also nice.

8. Eat lots of Top Ramen noodles.

I say this because undergrads are really the only human beings that can get away with this and it not only be respected but encouraged. Once you’re in the real world or in grad school, Ramen noodles are frowned upon as a lifestyle choice.

9. Make sure your finances are set up for that first tuition bill.

Don’t just assume your parents will bail you out if your loans or scholarships aren’t scheduled on time.

10. Go to at least one music festival.

There are tons during the summer and your next few summers may be defined by homework and reading so this may be your last chance for a while.

11. Get Netflix, Facebook and other online addictions out of your system.

This can mean either doing them excessively over summer to get your fill or easing out of doing them. Whatever the case, you should avoid these distractions as much as possible while earning that master’s in special education or whatever degree it is you’re earning. Don’t let YouTube suck you in.

12. Hang out with your loved ones and say something like, “I’m going to be going away for a while,” so they realize the near-prison-like cell your mind will be kept in for the next few years.

You don’t want these people surprised at your lack of availability after you start school. They may feel misled or ignored if you don’t inform them ahead of time.

13. Get a summer job.

Depending on the program, you may not be able to work during grad school. So earn that extra cash now so you’ll have the funds for your upcoming coffee addiction and just pure survival.

14. Start assigning tasks to friends.

Josh, you’re the one who brings me coffee when I run out and have no time to buy some. Kristine, you’re my go-to person for venting. Steph, you come give me a hug when school’s got me down. And so on.

15. Read Adam Ruben’s funny book Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School.

On top of some helpful advice, the book may also lighten you up with tips such as how to sleep upright during boring lectures and words of comfort from someone who spent several years in grad school.

Jon Fortenbury is an Austin-based freelance writer. He’s been published all over the place, ranging from Las Vegas Review Journal to Aol.com. His interests include education, improv comedy and subtly promoting his Twitter in writer bios.

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