The summer before you start college can be a time of uncertainty. To set yourself on a positive path toward your new college adventure, try to avoid these common mistakes.
#1: Spending Too Little Time with Family
Your life as a college freshman will begin right after summer vacation. As you focus on the exciting changes ahead, you might start hanging out less with your family. While it's natural to make this move toward independence, don't miss out on time with your loved ones.
When you are away at college—or spending most of your time on campus, if you are a commuting student—you will not have the same opportunities to enjoy everyday pleasures such as watching TV, playing games, or sharing meals with your parents or siblings.
The first few weeks and months as a college freshman can be a culture shock; you may unexpectedly feel lonely and isolated. Having good memories of recent times spent with your family can make them feel less distant.
#2: Taking a Walk on the Wild Side
It might seem like this will be your last summer before you'll be leaving your old life behind you and becoming a college freshman. Even so, don't spend your summer vacation breaking every rule in the book.
You don't have control over the pictures your friends or acquaintances might post on their social media accounts. Any raucous summer behavior might wind up on the radar of your new freshman classmates, or even your professors, through social networking.
After all, you never know who is connected via social media. Your digital footprint will precede you as you enter college...and, later on, as you build a career. Additionally, a criminal record isn't the way you want to start your college freshman year.
#3: Second-Guessing Your College Choice
You and your high school friends may be enrolled at different colleges. As you compare your choices with other prospective college freshman, you could start to worry that you've made a poor decision.
Chances are, your friends used the same sort of criteria you did to choose a college: factors like location, cost, student life, and academics. None of you can predict exactly how you will fare with your respective choice.
Instead of wallowing in uncertainty, resolve to enjoy your summer vacation. Once you officially become a college freshman, you'll have an opportunity to evaluate your chosen institution first-hand. If you decide to transfer after a few months or a few years, you're not alone: about one third of 4-year college students transfer to another school at least once.
#4: Not Planning for Your Financial Needs
Don't assume that you will have enough money to cover all of your expenses as a college freshman. You'll need to consider food, clothing, and transportation costs, even if your housing and some of your meals are paid for. You may also need money for entertainment, incidentals, and emergencies. If you haven't planned for these contingencies, you may be tempted to cover unexpected expenses using a credit card.
Take some time at the start of summer vacation to set up a working budget for your freshman year. Figure out early on whether you need to work this summer to build up your savings before the academic year begins. Do some research and find out what student discounts and other assistance is available to you.
#5: Worrying About Fitting In
College is different from high school both academically and socially. However, the social differences you'll find in college can be a pleasant surprise.
The college student body is more diverse than that of most high schools. Even if you were the only sci-fi fan or history buff in your high school class, you'll likely find whole groups of people with similar interests in college.
So, don't spend your last summer vacation before college worrying about your social life as a college freshman. Rest assured that you will find extracurricular clubs and activities to join that will both cater to your interests and introduce you to new friends. And, if you can't find a group that's devoted to your favorite hobby, you can always establish one yourself.
Starting Summer on a Positive Note
Now that we've looked at mistakes to avoid and explored how to avoid them, consider how to use the summer vacation before college to your best advantage. For more college freshman tips, check out this post about choosing a major.