Here’s how to make the most of your “gap-summer”

The summer between the end of high school and the beginning of college can best be described as a “gap-summer;” you aren’t in high school anymore, and you’re not in college yet, either. This glorious summer can be anywhere from two to four months long (depending on when you officially finished from high school and when your first semester at college begins), and can feel like an eternity, You’re basically just waiting for college to start and trying to figure out what to do besides binge-watching Orange Is The New Black, scrolling through Tumblr, and/or freaking out about the fact that you’re going to be a freshman in college soon.

But have no fear fellow “gap-summer”-ers! I’ve come up with a list of things to do this summer to ward off boredom and any potential freak-outs! You’re welcome (because we all know we’re thankful for lists that help guide our lives, right?).

Hang out with your hometown friends.

In the past, ignoring your friends all summer was no big deal, because in two-and-a-half months, you knew you’d see them everyday for the following nine months. But, unlike before, after this summer, you and your friends will be heading off across the country (and maybe even the world) to pursue new and different things. You may end up thousands of miles away from your closest friends. It’s not as if you’ll never see each other ever again (since your daily Snapchat stories will make it impossible for them to ever forget your face), but it’ll be difficult to interact with them as often as you used to.

So, this summer, actually make an effort to hang out with your friends and make some lasting memories. Go on road trips, hang out in the park, have slumber parties, have bonfires, binge watch OITNB together. All of you are going to be making tons of new friends in college, but it’s important to not forget your OG hometown squad.

Create/learn to keep healthy habits.

Freshman year of college is infamous for things like the Freshman Fifteen and back-to-back all nighters, so it’s going to be hard to try and start developing healthy habits once you’re there. But, if you start getting healthier during the summer, and start practicing staying healthy, it’ll be a lot easier to maintain in college. This means that this summer is NOT the time to be staying up all night scrolling through Tumblr, or to forgo three meals a day for a pint of ice cream at 3 a.m. (even though that does sound kind of wonderful).

Start training yourself to wake up at a reasonable hour (preferably before noon), and actually eat breakfast. Try eating healthier so that it’ll be easy to continue eating healthy in college. If your college is like mine and doesn’t have mandatory Physical Education classes, figure out a fun way you can exercise by yourself (or with classmates) now so that you can bring that with you to your new school, too. College is an extremely stressful environment, and so it’s important not to put any additional stress on your body by not taking care of it.

Create things you’re passionate about. 

When I say create, I do not mean create a Tumblr account with a clever username that you can use to waste time and become Internet famous. Keep your mind active by making things. You could make cool artwork to hang up around your room or your future dorm, start writing short stories, or create a photo journal. You have loads of time now to do things that you couldn’t do before, so use this opportunity as an excuse to make things. There’s nothing more satisfying than actually creating something on your own, and nothing cures boredom better than working on a fun project.

So, break out your DIY bucket list and head over to the craft store and just start making things. Start the oh-so-important blog that you’ve been meaning to start, or dust off your camera. The list of what you can accomplish is endless, all you have to do is actually go out and start.

Teach yourself something new.

I am probably not the only one who has wanted to spontaneously learn how to ride a skateboard, or how to play the ukulele. And I’m probably also not the only one who hasn’t had enough time to learn how to do those things either. This summer, instead of completing my high school’s required summer reading list and math packet, or trying to finish an online class like I normally do, I’ll actually be trying to teach myself to do those things. Again, you have loads of time this summer that you can use to actually accomplish things that you want to do/learn. So take advantage of that. And with so many instructional YouTube videos and wikiHows out there, it’s become a lot easier to learn something new in a short amount of time.

Get a head start for college.

OK, before you start drafting your angry “how dare you suggest we study during the summer” emails to me, hear me out. If you know your schedule for college, and you know that there are a couple of subjects that you feel iffy about, it is always a good idea to start looking through that class’ syllabus or textbook (if you’ve gotten your textbooks already, that is). Do not, under any circumstances, spend your ENTIRE gap-summer studying for you college classes. This summer is not for studying, but it is good to be prepared for what’s coming ahead, so it wouldn’t hurt to spend some time each week (even just an hour a week would be good) preparing for the academics you’ll encounter in the fall. If you have friends in your town who are taking the same classes/subjects as you are, you could meet at the library and study together to make it more fun. But, again, do not spend your entire summer studying, because that’s what you’ll be doing once college actually starts.

(Images from iStockPhoto, , here, here, here, and here.)

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