Having a wide-open summer can be a bit of a bummer—but it can also be a blessing! Don’t fret about not having a booked and busy few months because there are tons of ways to spend your free time. We got the lowdown from collegiettes on how they’ve spent past summers so you can start making plans!
Who doesn’t want to take a dream Eurotrip or the classic American road trip? If you’ve had traveling on your mind, a plan-free summer is the perfect time to go through with it. Take advantage of your free time and book that hotel, buy those flights or pack up the car for the trip of a lifetime.
Rachael McCulloch, a third-year student at Carleton University, spent last summer on a French exchange program in Quebec. While she was a bit hesitant at first, she decided to give it a try. “I wanted the opportunity to travel while still earning course credits, and I'm so glad I did!” says Rachael. “The trip was a much-needed step outside of my hometown and comfort zone. I definitely recommend combining travel with learning for anyone who has the chance!"
Chelsea Schroeder, a freshman at Bowling Green State University, also recommends spending the summer traveling—but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a long trip. “I would definitely say just go [on] small, spontaneous road trips a few hours away,” says Chelsea. “It's the most fun when you have no idea what your exact plans are!”
Whether you plan a long, faraway journey or a simple, spontaneous trip, summer can be the perfect time to set out and explore. If you have a few weeks (or even a few days), consider spending your free time exploring a new place!
2. Learn something new
Whether you take a class at the local community college, sign up to barista at your favorite coffee shop or just stay in and finally teach yourself how to French braid, that chunk of free time this summer can be a great opportunity to learn something new. We know that summer is probably your sacred time away from school, but there’s so much more you can learn outside of your university.
“The summer before I went abroad, I brushed up on my Spanish,” says Alex Watson, a senior at New York University. “When I came home from my summer job, I’d use Rosetta Stone and an app called Duolingo to practice my speaking. It was a great use of my free time and it really came in handy when I was abroad.”
If you’ve always wanted to learn about a certain subject or specific skill, take advantage of these next few months to do so! Sign up for a class, download an app or reach out to someone in your industry and pick up a few new skills this summer.
If you’ve ever wanted to contribute to an organization you love but haven’t had the time, now’s your chance! Consider using your freedom this summer to volunteer at an organization near you. Think about helping out at your local Humane Society, lending a hand at a soup kitchen or volunteering during a race that donates to a cause you’re interested in.
If you’re thinking about volunteering but don’t know where to start, consider using a resource like VolunteerMatch. You can plug in where you are and what interests you, and the site will generate opportunities near you. Time to get volunteering!
4. Try something you’ve always wanted to
Summer is a time to be spontaneous, so why not try something you’ve always wanted to? If you’ve been longing to try something out or cross something off your bucket list, maybe now is your chance!
Olivia Shaw, a senior at UNC Greensboro, finally decided to get a tattoo last summer. “I'd been wanting to get a dove tattoo on my forearm for three years, and I finally just walked into a tattoo parlor and did it one day,” she says. “I was nervous, but it felt so amazing to check something off my bucket list! I think summer is the perfect time to gather your courage and do something you've wanted to do for a while. It definitely makes your summer more memorable.”
If there’s something on your bucket list that has been on there for a while, maybe it’s about time to check it off! If you’ve always wanted to get into photography, buy a camera. Always wanted to get your first aid certification? Take a class. Take advantage of this time and do something you’ve been considering for a while.
5. Catch up on reading
Many of us collegiettes wish we had the time for some pleasure reading, but let’s be honest—we’d rather spend it on Netflix. If you’ve got a few free months this summer, consider spending some of it catching up on your reading list.
“As a grad student, I have A LOT of assigned readings and, sometimes, the best I can do is skim the not-so-urgent ones,” says Sydnee Lyons, a first-year graduate student at Florida Atlantic University. “So, I like to keep a running list of the readings that looked really interesting to me but that I didn't get to spend enough time with and go back to them during the summer months off—at my own pace and at the beach,” she says.
Whether it’s for fun or for work, think about spending your extra time catching up on the reading you’ve let build up over the past year or so. We’re all guilty of putting it off, so summer is the perfect time to play catch up!
6. Take up a new job or internship
If you’ve spent past summers relaxing on the beach and soaking up the glory of three months with no responsibilities, it can be hard to bring yourself to get a job instead. But summer is an awesome time of year to try out a new job and boost your resume.
“The summer between my sophomore and junior year, I decided to stay in the city and try a new internship,” says Alex. “Normally I’d go home for the summer, and usually I’m too busy during the school year to do an internship, so it turned out to be the perfect opportunity. It was great to learn more about my field, make a little money, and avoid the boredom of home!”
If you lack the time for a job or internship during the semester, consider using your summer to take one on. Learn something new about your field, make a little money and get a new experience!
7. Stay at school
Sure, summer and school don’t mix well in our minds—but why not?
Spending your summer on campus means many opportunities and benefits. Many college campuses transform for the summer. For example, Harvard, American University and Boston University—among many other schools—offer programs for high school students. So if you’re looking to make a little money and stay on campus, consider signing up to supervise! Check out what your school does during the summer and see if you can get involved.
Moreover, summertime can be a great opportunity to catch up on classes and get ahead in your academic career. Oftentimes, colleges offer a different curriculum during the summer, so see if there are any classes you’re interested in taking. And if you’re looking to get ahead or graduate early, see what requirements you can knock off your plate!
While you may have booked your past summers with plans to the brim, it’s not so bad to have a completely plan-free summer once in a while. A free summer gives you the time to try new things, explore and relax. If you’re trying to fill up your summer months, consider taking these collegiettes’ advice!