The Freshman Experience: 8 Week Countdown

An incoming freshman shares her pre-college bucket list, with things every student should do before they start college.
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An incoming freshman shares her pre-college bucket list, with things every student should do before they start college.

It's mid-July and summer is technically halfway over. A month has already passed since my classmates and I walked across the stage to receive our high school diplomas. The weather is gorgeous, the stresses are minimal, and the freedom feels amazing. For many years, I, like the other members of the class of 2011, have been counting down the days until this fall. Freshman year, here we come!

As anxious as we all are to head off to college, however, it's important for us graduates to remember that we've only got a few short weeks left (eight for me!) before we start our next big adventure. College is going to be amazing, but why should the months leading up to school be anything less? This is the time to celebrate! It's our time to have one last hurrah with our classmates, friends, and families before heading off in separate directions.

I'm a list person, so when summer started, I created my own Pre-College Bucket List of things all college-bound girls should do before summer ends. (It's similar to CF's Summer Bucket list.) With only a few short weeks left before college, it's time to check off the items on our lists. Here are four things every incoming freshman should do before school starts in the fall.

1. Step out of your comfort zone.

A week after graduation, a group of my classmates took the ultimate leap out of high school: they went skydiving! Now, this is definitely an extreme example of stepping out of your comfort zone, but a worthwhile one nonetheless.

This summer, I challenge you to do something unexpected. Whether it be leaping out of a plane, learning how to scuba dive, or riding a motorcycle, you will be glad to have this experience to draw upon when you and your future classmates are talking about what you did this summer. This first step out of your comfort zone will also help prepare you for the unexpected challenges that college will throw your way. Even better? It'll be fun!

2. Enjoy the weather while you can.

I don't know about the rest of the country, but up until recently the weather in Minnesota has NOT felt very summer-y. It has been cold, rainy, and windy. Jeans and a sweatshirt in June? That's crazy! Now that it is finally heating up, Minnesotans are making it a point to get outside and enjoy the weather while it lasts.

This summer, I recommend spend as much time soaking in the sun as possible. (While wearing sunscreen, of course!) I suggest going to an outdoor music festival or concert (check out this article for outfit ideas!), visiting an art fair, strolling around the public gardens, or camping beneath the stars. Bring some friends and a camera and make it an adventure!

3. Get out of town.

Summer is a time for exploring! When else do we have three months of uninterrupted free time? So whether you're working a summer job or bumming around at home, make it a point to take some time to jump in a car with your best friends and hit the road.

Recently, a friend and I drove the six and a half hours to Milwaukee to see a concert. It was unbelievably cool! We had a picnic at a rest stop, jammed to *NSYNC in the car, and had some great heart-to-hearts. It was an amazing experience to remember.

If a concert's not your thing, why not visit a cabin, go camping, or tour the major tourist attractions near your state? Your road trip can be as crazy or as subdued as you want. Just make sure that you read these tips about packing for your adventure! The time you spend traveling with your friends will create lifelong memories and inside jokes that you'll cherish forever.

4. Tie up loose ends.

For me, this has been the most important item on my pre-college bucket list. Like most high school girls, I've been involved in my fair share of drama, fights, and cattiness over the past four years. With college on the horizon, however, it is so crucial that we tie up our loose ends and resolve issues from the past.

Don't let yourself head off to college with unfinished business back home - if left unresolved for too long, grudges, misunderstandings, and rifts could become permanent. By calling up old friends and sitting down to chat, you'll feel more confident that you will always have a peaceful and pleasant home you can return to.

More Freshman Year Tips, Tricks, and Advice

This article is part of our Freshman Experience series. For more, see: College Orientation, Tips & Tricks for Meeting the Roommate, Dorm Room Shopping Tips, First Semester Goals, College Packing List, Getting Involved on Campus, 4 Ways to Ease Midterm Stress, College Misconceptions & Ask a Freshman, Freshman Year Questions - Answered, Thanksgiving Break Essentials, Tackling Holiday Shopping in College, First Semester Goals Revisited, and Final Thoughts.

Your turn!

I've shared my pre-college bucket list, but I want to hear about yours! Recent high school graduates, what are you doing this summer? Tell us about the items on your list! Not-so-recent grads, what do you think? If you could go back and do something before heading off college, what would it be? Make sure to leave your thoughts in a comment.