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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Friends spending time outside

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.

16 thoughts on “The Freshman Experience: 8 Week Countdown”

  1. I am also a freshman this fall.This summer I went on a roadtrip with a good friend and our boyfriends to see Rihanna and BOB in concert. It was an awesome experience and hopefully i can incorporate the rest of your tips into the remainder of my summer! I enjoyed your post Sarah and I look forward to the next!

  2. Heidi: Talk about doing something unexpected! That sounds amazing! I can’t imagine beginning freshman year in Australia. What an incredible experience! Sounds like you’ve had an awesome summer so far. I burned all my AP stuff myself! Good luck fall semester! Hopefully we’ll find each other in the spring 🙂

  3. Hey Sarah! I’m an incoming Northeastern Freshman, but I’m in the NUin program- which means

    A. my summer is getting cut short and I haven’t been able to so everything I wanted
    B. I am taking a huge step out of my comfort zone and my first semester is going to be in Australia- I leave July 28!
    I’m so pumped to study in Melbourne for my first semester, especially because I’m interested in Engineering and Melbourne is renowned for the scientific innovations from the area.

    I really wish I had discovered this article before my summer began, although I’ve had some fun hanging out on Cape Cod and partying (and burning high school senior projects). That wasn’t a bucket list item for me until after it happened- some friends and I had a bonfire to burn our senior projects, because they had stressed us out so much throughout the year (:

    Hope you all have a great time this year, maybe we’ll meet spring semester!

  4. Danielle: I’m so glad you agree! It’s good to hear feedback from people who have already gone through this. That’s the whole point, isn’t it??!

    Carolyn: Wow, that sounds like an incredible experience all on its own. Congratulations on that program! That’s really impressive 🙂

    Kaitlin: Thanks so much for the advice. I’ll definitely remember that.

    Steffie and Hillary: I can’t do a cartwheel either. I’ll be working on that one!

  5. Great article Sarah!
    I really appreciated your points about tying up loose ends in fragmented relationships – nothing could be more important than the relationships that are cultivated throughout life. Jobs come and go, careers change, but the people we build and maintain relationships with are a strong anchor when the stormy seas of life threaten our journey.
    Looking forward to reading more insights from your freshman year!

  6. Great article with lots of good ideas! I believe it is also very important to make sure you see all your high school friends before leaving for college! Attending a few graduation parties would do the trick! Or host one of your own! Accepting that you wont be seeing all these people much if not at all is also important. Then, take the opportunity to create many new, interesting friends during your freshman year :)!
    Again, really nice article, Sarah.

  7. I’m about to enter my senior year of college, and I really think your article is spot-on. it learn how to do a cartwheel. It’s an essential life skill that I lack.

  8. My pre-college bucket list has one thing on it: learn how to do a cartwheel. It’s an essential life skill that I lack.

  9. What a great article! I can’t wait to see the rest of the series. My summer bucket list basically just consists of doing all the things I wished I had time to all school year–sunrise hikes, clothing re-fashions, blogging, cooking, etc.

    Also, Sarah, if you happen to read these comments, I’m going to be a freshman at NEU this fall as well and we should totally meet up at some point!

  10. I wish that I had thought of all of this stuff! My first year was so confusing, but most of all, I missed my high school friends. It’s so odd having to make a whole new set of people to hang out with, but I did make sure that I fit in lots of movie nights/ice cream gorging nights with my best friends from grade school the summer before freshmen year. It provided hundreds of fabulous photos to look through when I was feeling a bit lost in my new dorm room.

  11. I’m also going to be a freshmen this year. I’m incredibly excited, but still a little anxious (my school’s 7-8 hours from home). Usually I’m a shy and reserved kind of gal, but this summer I’m participating in a young artists’ opera program. So I’m in two operas and getting over my own issues. Of course, what I really want to do is get out of my town or at least do a little adventuring, alas, rehearsals make that impossible, at least until August.

  12. I finished my freshman year in April, and I kind of wish that I had a little article like this to learn from before I went! I had a good time, but I know that it would have been better if I had some of these tips. The “tying up loose ends” was especially something that bothered me during the year. Leave the high school drama in high school! It’s a completely different ball game in college, and that stuff you worried about means nothing to the awesome people you will meet. Whatever drama you encounter in college is usually a different kind. Really embrace the chance you guys are getting for a FRESH start. Sorry for that rant, but hopefully you incoming freshman will take something from it? Good luck! 🙂

  13. Great article Sarah!

    I am also going to be a college freshman in the fall so I can totally relate! 🙂 Loved this list and can’t wait to see what the upcoming weeks hold for this blog! I heard that Northeastern was quite picky this year so congrats on getting in! 🙂 Hope you have a great summer!

  14. I’m an incoming freshman from MN too…(Duluth, not Northeastern, although I have a couple friends going there). I love your list, I have a similar list too. Road tripping was my first priority 😛


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