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Leaving for college is exciting, nerve-wracking, and overwhelming all at the same time. You’re excited to start a new journey, but also nervous because you’re not sure what to expect. Getting everything organized before you leave home and arrive at your new destination is also overwhelming because there is so much to do!
At the same time, the summer before you leave for college is one of the last times you’ll see your friends from high school for a few months. Oftentimes, college students don’t return home until winter recess, especially if they live states away from their school.
So, this means during your final summer before college, you’ll want to hang out with your friends as much as possible. You’ll want pictures and memories to display in your dorm room, and of course you’ll be able to keep in touch with them.
Adjusting to college depends on the student, some take longer to overcome the feeling of homesickness and others fit right into this new world! If you feel like the adjustment might be difficult, surround yourself with these memories, pictures, and even a journal -- but rest assured, everyone adjusts and it’s only a matter of time before campus starts to feel like your second home.
To get you started on creating and preserving memories, we’ve put together a bucket list of fun and exciting adventures you can do alone or with your best friends the summer before you leave for college.
This list fulfils everything you are currently able to do in 2021 -- but as time and rules progress, hopefully you’ll be able to add a few more adventures of your own to the list!
Here is our list:
- Plan a Hiking Trip
- Visit a National Park
- Have a Bonfire with Friends
- Roast Marshmallows Over the Fire
- Clean Out Your Closet and Donate Old Clothes
- Road Trip
- Bike Trip
- Go to the Drive-In
- Go Kayaking
- Spend a Day at the Park
- Spend a Day at the Lake
- Cook Dinner With Friends
- Virtual Concert
- Read a Fulfilling Book
- Start a Journal
- Have a Picnic
- Spend a Night Under the Stars
- Take Pictures With Your Pets
- Visit Your Grandparents
- Grab Takeout
- Go to Your Local Orchards
- Buy a Houseplant
- Watch 4th of July Fireworks
- Make a Pact With Your Friends
- Embrace Independence
1. Plan a Hiking Trip
Who doesn’t love getting outdoors and going on an adventure? It’s scientifically proven that spending time in nature has a number of benefits for your health and well being. Natural environments promote positive emotions, and walking, sitting, or even looking at the scenery will boost your physical and mental energy.
Getting outdoors not only benefits you in a positive way, but you’ll also be able to hike alongside family or friends. This is a great excuse to take pictures and preserve the memories from your day.
Hike locally, or drive to find the perfect spot -- no matter where you go, just spend time in nature -- we promise it’s worth it.
2. Visit a National Park
Continuing with our nature theme -- visit a national park. Depending on where you live there are national parks on both coasts, so you have plenty of options. If there is one you’ve always wanted to visit, now is the time!
If you can’t get to a national park, state parks are also a great option, or even local parks with hiking trails! The options are endless.
3. Have a Bonfire With Friends
When the weather finally breaks and it’s warm enough to sit outside in shorts and a t-shirt, everyone wants to have a good bonfire. Even when the night time temperatures only require a light sweatshirt -- this is the perfect weather for a bonfire.
This is also a great opportunity to invite friends and catch up or just enjoy each other's company! Take pictures, listen to music, star gaze, light some sparklers -- you can make a bonfire fun and exciting, and definitely a night you will remember.
4. Roast Marshmallows Over the Fire
Before your bonfire, head to the local supermarket and grab a bag of marshmallows, box of graham crackers, and of course, chocolate. Then roast the marshmallow over the fire -- achieve the perfect even golden brown color, or catch them on fire for a charred, but delicious taste. Then smash them between two graham crackers and a melty piece of chocolate and you have heaven in the palm of your hands.
Anyone who doesn’t enjoy the perfect s’more can opt for eating a regular gooey and delicious marshmallow -- the best of both worlds for everyone.
5. Clean Out Your Closet and Donate Old Clothes
Before you head off to college, do us a favor and clean out your closet! We know you’ve had clothes hanging that haven’t been worn in years or you’ve been waiting for the right moment to wear them, but it’s just never come. Get rid of these, and let someone else enjoy them! The rule of thumb -- if it’s been hanging for over a year, it’s time to let it go!
You might think you can arrive on campus with a stockpile of clothes, but the truth is, you can’t take everything. You only have so much space to work with, so you’ll need to pick your favorites. This is another great reason to sort out your closet the summer before you leave for school. If you need help deciding what to keep and what to donate to your local secondhand store, we’ll link a guide here.
6. Road Trip
Cross road trip off your summer bucket list!
Now is the perfect time to take the road trip you’ve been dreaming of for the past few years. This can be as small or as extensive as you want -- either see all of the landmark destinations in your state, or travel the country. This is up to you, your budget, and what time will allow!
We suggest saving money by sleeping in your car, pitching a tent, or spending a night in a sleeping bag under the stars. Take a friend or two and hit the road (make sure this is ok with your parents first)!
7. Bike Trip
If you aren’t able to take a road trip -- hit up your local bike trail and ride for a few miles or try bike-packing. This is where you ride the trail to the end of the line and turn back. Many trails cross state borders and go for miles.
This is the perfect opportunity to take a trip and also spend time outdoors. Get another person to go with you and make memories to last a lifetime.
8. Go to the Drive-In
Your local drive-in movie theater is a great way to watch the latest flick while keeping your distance. Some even show classics from the past! No matter what’s playing, this is always a fun occasion.
9. Go Kayaking
Are you an avid kayaker or have you never gone? If this is one of your favorite things to do, try to go a few extra times this summer or if you’ve never gone, give it a shot and see how it goes!
Kayak a lake or a river depending on the type of float you want. If you’re in for leisure, pick the lake, or if you want rapids and a constantly changing layout, pick the river.
10. Spend a Day at the Park
Spend a relaxing day at the park with friends, create your own fun, and definitely take pictures.
11. Spend a Day at the Lake
After you visit the park, drive to the nearest lake. This is where you can try out your kayaking skills, or just enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, and maybe even go for a swim.
12. Cook Dinner With Friends
In college, there might be a few occasions where you need to cook for yourself. Now is the perfect time to test your skills. Plan a meal with your friends, go to the local grocery store to pick up everything you need, and cook the meal!
It might turn out amazing, or it might need a little extra work next time. Try something simple like a fun pasta dish, or try a cookout and make burgers and hot dogs on the grill!
13. Virtual Concert
Many artists have released virtual concerts for their fans. Take advantage of these free concerts and plan a fun night with your friends where you get dressed up, listen to the music, and have your own party!
14. Read a Fulfilling Book
Before you leave for school, pick up that book you’ve always wanted to read but never found the time. Make time this summer because reading is important and we can’t stress that enough!
This is also the perfect time to dive into a relatable memoir, advice, or self-help book. If you’re anxious about living on your own in college and being responsible for yourself -- these books are helpful tools that you should use to your advantage!
15. Start a Journal
Remember how we said spending time in nature has significant benefits for your mental health? Well, journaling falls into this category too. This is a great time to get into the habit of writing down your thoughts everyday before you go to sleep.
Journaling has many benefits, including stress reduction, keeping your memory sharp, improving your mood, and allowing you to become more in touch with your emotions.
16. Have a Picnic
While you visit the park, be sure to take a blanket, a few of your favorite snacks and drinks and have a picnic while you enjoy the company of friends. This is a great affordable pastime that can easily be accomplished any day of the week!
17. Spend a Night Under the Stars
You don’t have to travel to spend a night under the stars. Simply grab your sleeping back and head out to your backyard -- enjoy gazing at the sky, taking in the atmosphere, and enjoy a moment of peace all to yourself. Moments like these can be hard to come by in the future, especially when sharing a dorm room cuts down on your privacy. So, enjoy this time while you have it!
18. Take Pictures With Your Pets
Your furry friends will always have a place in your heart -- take pictures with them for when you go away!
When you go off to college, you might find that you miss your pets more than anyone else! You’re used to seeing them everyday, and now you have to be apart from them. So, this is a great chance to have a photoshoot with your furry friends. You’ll want tons of pictures of them hanging in your dorm room, they’ll cheer you up during the hardest moments.
19. Visit Your Grandparents
Don’t just spend the summer with friends, go visit your grandparents! They are more than thrilled to watch you go out into the world and find success, but they also had a hand in your upbringing. Pay them the respect they deserve and pay a day enjoying their company. They will be extremely grateful for time spent with you, trust us!
20. Grab Takeout
Everyone has that one local restaurant that they could eat at once a week, if not more! Keep in mind that you won’t be able to eat there after you leave. So, get your fix now and grab takeout as much as possible!
21. Go to Your Local Orchards
Pick berries, vegetables, or even flowers. Going to your local orchard can be a fun and exciting day where there will be many photo opportunities. Plan a day with your friends and go!
22. Buy a Houseplant
While you’re visiting the greenhouse at the orchard, select a houseplant for your dorm room. If you’re not the best caretaker, there are tons of low maintenance plants that don’t require much light, water, or attention. Plants are great for your dorm room because they purify the air, have benefits for your skin, respiratory tract, sleep habits, and you’ll enjoy having something to look after!
23. Watch 4th of July Fireworks
Be sure to watch your local 4th of July fireworks show! Get the best spot with your friends and take in the night together!
24. Make a Pact With Your Friends
Before you and your friends leave for school, make a pact to stay in touch and see each other when you’re all home again. You might all be attending school in different states, so you have to make the effort to remain close. Once you come back for winter break, you’ll be able to catch up on the experiences you’ve had during your first semester.
25. Embrace Independence
Last but not least, leaving for college means you’re about to take on newfound independence and responsibilities you’ve never had. You’re the one who will be responsible to attend class, keep up with your homework, and study for tests. Before your parents and teachers were on your back, but now this is up to you, so make sure you’re prepared!
You’ll also be responsible for doing your laundry and occasionally cooking. Be sure to ask your parents how to do these things and get any tips for making life on your own a little bit easier.
Remember to enjoy this last summer of freedom before you start college and appreciate all of these final moments because college will bring new challenges, opportunities, internships, and jobs each of the following summers!