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How to make the most of your senior summer

| Alison Wagener

This is it. For the past four years, you’ve dreamed of this moment: of receiving your diploma, turning your tassel and finally (finally!) graduating from high school.

But do you know what to do once the celebration dies down?

It’s easy to see your last summer before college as a waiting period, a three-month pause bookended by graduation and move-in day. But what you do this summer can have a huge impact on your first semester at college.

If you’re feeling a little lost on what to do now, we have your back. Here are 15 foolproof ways to make the most out of your senior summer.

1. Document what’s important.

Be sure to take lots of pictures of your friends and family (and definitely also your dog), and try keeping a journal so you can write down your summer’s sentimental events and wacky anecdotes. But don’t try so hard to remember everything that you forget to have fun while you’re doing it.

2. Pack a little bit at a time — don’t leave it all for the last minute.

Packing for college is going to take some serious time and effort, and it’s definitely not something you should leave until the last week before you move away. Go into your bedroom and take a look around you. Start making mental notes about what you want to bring with you and what you can start packing now.

3. Get on the same page with your parents.

Check in with your parents about your expectations for the coming months. How often you think you should come home for the weekend? Are you going to call each other a lot? And what about finances — will they be helping out, and if so, how much do they see themselves contributing? If not, do you have a plan for budgeting appropriately? Making sure you all see eye-to-eye on these issues can prevent conflict later on.

Even if you’ve decided to live at home and commute to school, consider talking with your parents about how your relationship will change as you transition into being a college student.

4. Work, even if you have the choice not to.

Time feels very precious in the weeks before you move away for college. If you need to work this summer for financial reasons, don’t feel guilty about spending this time away from your friends and family. Know that you’re making a sound investment in your future. (And you’ll thank yourself when you can afford that extra latte during finals week.)

Even if you don’t need a job this summer, consider working anyway. You never know when that extra cash will come in handy, and having a job will give you something besides move-in day to focus on.

5. Reach out to your roommate.

This one is pretty essential. That first phone call (or let’s be honest, Facebook message) can be a little nerve-wracking, but in only a few short months you’ll be seeing each other in your underwear on the daily. So you might as well get to know each other now. And don’t forget to coordinate with your roomie to plan who will bring what into your dorm — trying to fit two futons into that tiny room on move-in day might be a bit of a struggle.

6. Plan at least one big activity with your friends.

The summer before college is busy for everyone. Your friends will most likely be all over the place with packing, orientations, and other preparations. Setting aside time for at least one no-distractions, quality time get-together with all your friends before you move across the state (and country) is a great way to make sure lifelong memories will be made.

7. Savor the lasts, but remember that they come with a lot of firsts.

Every time you do something at home, you might be tempted to ask yourself if it’s ~*the last time.*~ This can quickly turn from being sentimental to being obsessed with your every move. Remember that there're  a lot of exciting opportunities coming your way soon, too.

8. Start your college job hunt.

Finding a job now can save you a lot of time and stress once the semester starts. It might sound overwhelming to start a new job during the first week of class, but you’ll be grateful for having a secure income as soon as you move in. Many universities provide job searches for both on- and off-campus jobs (like Handshake!).

9. Learn to manage your stress.

While your summer may seem hectic now, it will be relatively stress-free in comparison to the hours of reading, writing essays and studying for midterm exams coming your way. You’ll thank yourself when you’re prepared with stress management tools before encountering your rough patches.

10. Visit your college.

Hanging out on campus during the summer months can get you better acquainted with your future home before you move in. Being familiar with your university can make your transition into college life a whole lot easier. Plus, you can explore the city and find out what students do when they’re in town for the summer. (For bonus points, join the Blugolds floating down the Chip while you’re here at UWEC!)

11. Start adulting.

Learning the True Ways of the Adult is an elusive process. But lucky for you, achieving true adulthood is a myth; everyone learns something new about themselves and the world every day.*

*Side note: this is not an excuse for you to not know how to do your laundry. Do that ASAP. (Other items on your to-do list include keeping your room clean, cooking something other than ramen and learning how to have a productive political discussion on the internet.)

12. Don’t forget to spend time with your parents.

I know, I know. You’re worried you’ll miss your friends, so you want to spend every waking minute with them before you all move away. What about the moment of truth when your parents drive away from your residence hall? Don’t wait until then to realize you wish you spent more time with them this summer.

13. Pick up a book. Any book.

Beware the summer slide. Your college classes may ask you to read more every week than you’ve ever done before. Neglecting to read anything but group chat messages this summer will set you back further than you think. Consider this your challenge.

14. Don’t pressure yourself to make this the best summer of your life.

If you’re like me, you’ve set your expectations pretty high for your last summer of high school. But the truth is that it’s just three months. Expecting to make lifelong memories every day is a great way to set yourself up for disappointment. Enjoy the little things and live in the moment.

15. Set goals for your first semester.

The last four years, you’ve had the goal of graduating from high school. Moving past that goal might make you feel a little lost. So what’s next? Make sure you have a clear idea of what you want for yourself: Do you want to be on the Dean’s List? Be on the leadership team of an organization? Get an internship? Or something else? Write it down, and bring it with you to college. It will help guide you in the coming months.

Above everything else, remember that every soon-to-be college freshman is in the same boat right now. You’re not alone. It’s okay to be scared, to be excited, and even to be confused about why you’re going to college in the first place. All of this is normal and expected for someone who’s about to experience a big change in their life.

Try to focus on what matters: that soon, you’ll be taking on new challenges, pushing your limits and taking the first steps toward the rest of your life!

(And you’ll be able to order pizza whenever you want. That’s pretty cool, too.)