Summer Bucket List for the Incoming Freshman Class

The summer before your first year of college is scary. Think of all the changes you’re going through– shifting social circles, major life decisions, the uncertainty and hopefulness that comes with growing independence. It seems now that our whole lives are ahead of us, and we stand on the precipice of “real life.” We all feel the bittersweetness; we’ve waited our whole lives for this moment, yet the thought of letting go of what we know is enough to make some hesitate.

I’ve learned three things since then:

  1. These feelings are normal and common
  2. Change is both a scary and beautiful thing
  3. You have more control over your life than you think you do

Some people choose to use college as a blank slate. They may start going by a new nickname, or delete their old Instagram accounts, or dye their hair like they’d always wanted but never had the courage to do. Others choose for their college life to be a direct continuation of their current lives– a straight path forward in familiar surroundings. What I found is you don’t have to choose between any “old” life and “new” life. You can create a comfortable blend of experience for yourself in which new experiences excite you and familiarity comforts you. The best place to start is the summer going into your freshman year.

The next three months are for you to make memories with your friends, appreciate your home, try new experiences, and reflect on yourself. Here are 20 things for you to do before college move-in day:

Fun with Friends

  • Image result for friends fire pitGo to your nearest beach! Whether you’ll use it taking a nap in the sun, reading a book, or jumping in the water, you’re bound to feel rejuvenated afterward.
  • Take a mini road trip! Plan a final destination together and then see what fun curiosities lie between where you are and where you’re going.
  • Have a craft/photo day! Make some tangible memories you can bring with you to college. The beautiful Pinterest-worthy creations (or hilarious failed attempts at said creations) will be a reminder of your friendship across any distance.
  • Make s’mores and have a night out in your backyard if it’s nice in that summer evening way, or watch a movie if it’s stormy (in that also summer evening way). Talk late into the night about old memories and the ones you might make.
  • Have a potluck! Everyone can make their own dishes, or bring food from somewhere signature to your hometown– the bakery on the corner that makes your favorite cookies, or that diner with the best mozzarella sticks.

Home Comforts

  • Image result for holding dogTake pictures in all your favorite sunset spots!
  • Spend some quality time with your pets. Take your dog on a walk through the park, or reach for your cat and say “pssst come here kitty!” as she stares at you. You’ll miss those tiny moments when you’re away.
  • Do something nice for your family. Go on an errand for your mom, drive your sibling to soccer practice, or if you’re dedicated, even feign interest in golf for your dad.
  • Take a day to enjoy the amenities of home– your mattress, the TV with all your favorite shows recorded, and of course, the free snacks. You will miss the free snacks.


New Experiences

  • Related imageGo to a coffee shop open mic, or a concert for a band you’ve never heard before. You may find something you never realized you’d been missing!
  • Binge the show you always said you’d watch– college is spoiler nation.
  • Learn a new recipe! In college, cooking ability is a much sought-after but rarely-found talent. Trust me: the quickest way to your friends’ hearts is through their stomachs.
  • Go to a museum. If it isn’t your thing, make memes out of the art. The possibilities are endless.
  • Visit a friend at their college! Learn about their daily life, and see what appeals to you and what doesn’t. You’ll have that much better an idea of what you want out of your college experience.


  • Image result for meditatingPick up an instrument! Choose something inexpensive and simple, like a ukulele, and learn a song or two. See how you like it. Who knows? You might have a knack for it!
  • Try meditation. Take a few minutes to close your eyes, focus on your breathing, relax your shoulders, and practice some mindfulness. A few minutes of self-reflection can go a long way.
  • Buy some school and organizational supplies. I know– fun Friday night plans, right? But during a free afternoon, take a trip to Staples (or just go on Amazon, it’s 2019) and buy a few things– folders, binders, notebooks– and see what system works best for you.
  • Write out a list of achievable goals for your college self: Make three new friends. Eat a piece of fruit every day. Join a club you’ve never tried before.

There can be a lot of pressure to make this summer perfect. Don’t stress yourself out! Remember that your focus should be taking care of yourself in all different ways. Have fun with your friends, enjoy the comforts of home, try something new, and take some time to reflect. Use this summer to build confidence, and by August you’ll be ready for that last step forward.

About Marist

Located on the banks of the historic Hudson River and at its Florence, Italy branch campus, Marist College is a comprehensive, independent institution grounded in the liberal arts. Marist is consistently recognized for excellence by The Princeton Review (Colleges That Create Futures and The Best 384 Colleges), U.S. News & World Report (8th Best Regional University/North), Kiplinger’s Personal Finance (“Best College Values”), and others. Marist educates approximately 5,000 traditional-age undergraduate students and 1,400 adult and graduate students in 47 undergraduate majors and numerous graduate programs, including fully online MBA, MPA, MS, and MA degrees. 

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