Everyone talks about that elusive senior summer. The special time after graduation, when you are supposed to soak up time with family and friends, and prepare to branch out on your own, whether to college, a job, trade school, or a gap year. No matter where you are heading after that big commencement ceremony, your senior summer truly is an irreplaceable time in your life. It’s one you won’t get back, or get to repeat, and there is a special anticipation in the air for those few months! So, if you’re preparing for your senior summer, what should you do to maximize your time and effort?
- Know that your senior summer doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s. They say comparison is the thief of all joy, and it’s true! You may be looking around at your friends or family, and wondering whether you “should” be doing the things they are doing. Perhaps they are working full-time, or traveling, or doing extra prep work academically for college. Those things are all wonderful, but your senior summer should be whatever you need it to be. For many, that means picking up a summer job, or learning how to budget your income carefully so that you’re prepared for college, or simply taking time to see all the friends and family you’ll be leaving behind when you move. It’s okay if your summer plans are different than your friends. Be confident in what you’re stepping into, and get accustomed to knowing what’s right for them may not be right for you, and that’s ok!
- Pace yourself: In an effort to fit everything into a really special summer, many people pack in the activities and don’t allow themselves any downtime to process the major changes happening in their lives. Of course, it’s super fun to get to fill your days from morning to evening, but it can cause more stress when your college start date arrives, and you realize you’ve not rested at all. Plan a few days per month (or one per week) when you’ll unplug, spend time resting or taking care of your mental health, or when you can do something like read or take a walk. Your adjustment to college or moving away will be much smoother if you are getting enough sleep, being reasonable about your schedule, and staying healthy and not run-down.
- Check in with your parents: It’s true that your senior year is all about you, and the future you’re stepping into, but it’s also a big year for your parents. Your senior summer is often really important to your family, and they will want to be included in your plans. Talk with your parents to establish things they may want you to come on, like family trips or special family days, and remember to have compassion for the fact that they want to soak up time with you if you’re leaving for college! Set clear expectations with each other, and follow through if you’re supposed to be present for family occasions. You will miss them more than you realize if you move, and they will be “grieving” the changes in the family in their own way, so give them a few extra hugs!
- Prioritize your health: Before you head off to college, it’s really wise to make those doctor or dental appointments before you leave. Checkups, chiropractor appointments, and dental cleanings are things that are more difficult to schedule during college breaks, so try to take care of as many as possible (depending on your insurance). Take vitamins as well, and keep your immune system up. Getting into a rhythm of taking supplements and multivitamins can help keep you healthy in college, when many students get run down and are getting less sleep in a dorm room. Starting off healthy gives you a good head start on STAYING healthy in your freshman year. It also helps if you get into a good rhythm of healthy eating, as well (in fact, learning to make simple salads, pasta, or protein like chicken breast, can be really beneficial and lower your intake of processed food).
These four things can help your senior summer be productive and healthy, and can keep you from wishing you had done things differently as you prepare for the fall. As with most things, preparing and being intentional about your summer will truly make it a successful one!