Posted October 30, 2013 by

How to Spend the Summer of Your Freshman Year: A Check List

The words School's Out written on a green chalkboard

The words School’s Out written on a green chalkboard. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Summary: Your first year of college is officially over, and a sunny summer is on the horizon. Here’s what to do to set yourself up for an even brighter future.

As the snow begins to melt and spring comes into view, you’ll be ready to cross off a major (if often uncelebrated) event in your adult life: The successful completion of your first year of college.

All the anxiety of the application process is long behind you at this point, you’ve overcome your first semester jitters, you’ve gotten used to your roommate’s quirks, and your college career is officially underway. But this is no time to kick back and idle away the summer months.

Here’s a list of practical moves that can help you enjoy the present while also staying in control of your future.

1. Get a job. Spend at least a few hours of your week earning money, and try to earn enough to take care of more than just your own entertainment expenses. If you’re living back at home with your parents, offer to chip in for groceries and gas money.

2. Have an adventure. Take at least a few road trips with your friends or by yourself. Go to the mountains or the beach or an important landmark you’ve wanted to visit. Pack a bag, get in a car or hop on a train, and just go.

3. Learn something in a structured way. Wait until your sophomore or junior summer before you step into an unpaid internship, but for now, enroll in a summer course—even if you aren’t working on credits toward your degree. Take a class at the local library or sign up for karate or guitar lessons. If you can’t pay, ask a knowledgeable friend or contact to teach you in exchange for yard work or babysitting services.

4. Volunteer at a blood bank or food kitchen. Donate your energy to a community project or a local or global level.

5. Learn something in an unstructured way. Choose a topic that interests you (Civil War history? Giraffe biology?), and pursue it on your own. Your subject doesn’t have to relate directly to your chosen major. Just send yourself on an information-gathering mission, and have fun with it. Do some self-directed research just to cultivate a positive, warm relationship with learning for its own sake.

6. Connect with your family. Whether it makes you happy or not, your relationships with your parents and siblings are entering a period of dramatic change. You’re gradually separating from them and heading off in your own direction, and no matter what your domestic situation looks like in the future, this change will never entirely move backward. So take the time you have now and become friends with these people. Embrace your adult relationships with them.

7. Meet a significant other. Why not? You’ve been working hard for a year, and it’s time for a youthful romantic adventure. If it ends as the sun sets on this golden season, that’s okay. You’ll be left with some good memories and maybe a lifelong friend. If it lasts into the fall, even better.

LiveCareer (www.livecareer.com), home to America’s #1 Resume Builder, connects job seekers of all experience levels and career categories to all the tools, resources and insider tips needed to win the job. Find LiveCareer on Youtube and visit LiveCareer’s Google+ page for even more tips and advice on all things career and resume-related.

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