To the Class of 2018 – hats off to us! Twelve years of books, exams, drama, and studying, moved from present worry into past memory with the turn of our tassels. Now, as it becomes our turn to walk towards the rest of our lives, each of us finds our hearts set on different destinations. Some to the trades, some to travel, and some to take a bit of well-earned time to figure out who exactly they're meant to become.
But for those of us heading off to college, the prospect of Summer 2018 can seem somewhat daunting. While we'll be heading back to the grind of books, exams, and studying in a little over a month, the free yet directionless nature of summer looms ever-present – and with it, the worry of not doing enough with your time. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities for upcoming college freshmen who want to get off the couch and make the most of our first free summer.
1. Part-Time Work
Possibly the most common choice for those entering school, many students (including myself!) take up part-time jobs over the summer. While most of us hold part-time work to afford bills and tuition, there's always a way to make the most of your experience. If you're like me and find yourself working tables at a local restaurant chain, think of the work as an opportunity to build character. By bonding with my coworkers and allowing myself to become invested in my work during each shift, it began to take the edge off the perception of 'menial labor,' giving me the drive to do better work.
If you're lucky enough to find a job or internship in your preferred field of work or study, use the opportunity at hand to boost your resume! No matter what type of job you do, you'll gain work experience that future employers will love to see, will help bolster your appreciation for hard work, and (maybe best of all) give you a regular, solid income.
If you've got a knack for adventure, the best summer adventure for you might begin with simply stepping out the door and exploring the local world. Live in a rural area with vast amounts of woodland? Strap on your boots and take a hike down a new trail. Find a new mountain and make it your goal to climb every trail before the summer ends. Look for unimposing farm stands and greenhouses by the side of the road, and take some time to relax among the greenery.
If you live in a more urban area, keep an eye out for new stores that might've popped up recently – perhaps a new KBBQ opened down the road or a new thrift store where you can find that perfect vintage backpack. Plenty of museums have days where those with a student ID can enter at a reduced or eliminated rate on certain days of the week, so step outside of your comfort zone and take a look inside a new subject you may have never otherwise known. Keep an eye open for new experiences wherever you are and find something exciting you wouldn't have seen otherwise!
Do you have an interest in altruism, or simply the drive to make a difference in your community? Luckily, there are almost always organizations nearby that would love to have your helping hand within their group. Some larger organizations, such as Meals on Wheels and Habitat for Humanity, have locations across the country and established websites where you can readily become involved with their cause. Some charities are more local and usually end up being more in need of extra volunteer help than others.
Some local charity organizations could include soup kitchens, nursing homes, and community rec groups, each with different demographics, events, and goals in mind. Wherever you want to be of help, there will always be a charity for that purpose that are eager to gain new volunteers. Google, local ads, and the newspaper are great jumping-off points for aspiring volunteers.
4. New Hobbies
What better time to try something new than when you don't have too many responsibilities? If there's ever been something you've wanted to try but have always found yourself far too busy to start, now's your chance! Always wanted to play the ukulele? Beginner's models start around $28, and with a little help from YouTube, you can be strumming away before the day's over! What about painting?
A little money can go a long way at your local art supplies store, and with a little bit of experimentation, you'll be on your way to becoming an acrylic master. For those looking to spend little cash, sites like Duolingo can help the aspiring polyglot learn a new language for free, while Codecademy provides free services to those who want to learn the language of programming. Wherever your interests lie, take this summer by the reins and use it to live those interests up to the fullest!