No more teachers, no more books…now what?
words by Virginia Chamlee
I’d like to say that the summers leading up to my freshman year at college were spent being rebellious—sneaking out to parties and the like. In reality, I went to dork camp. It was technically called The National Student Leadership Conference on International Diplomacy, but let’s call it what it was—a group of teenage dorks who were nominated by their teachers to participate in a mock U.N. “summer camp” at American University. Essentially, we chose to spend our summer holed up in dorms, attending lectures, and visiting national monuments rather than participating in the clambakes and bonfires that those outside of Florida probably equate with summer. The summer before freshman year is a scary, albeit exciting, time. According to Chad Learch, Interim Director of Admissions at the University of North Florida, there are some things that students absolutely must do before heading to school, while other activities are variable. “There’s a lot that can be done in that time, whether it involves being productive, resting, or challenging yourself in various ways,” he says. “The leap from high school to college is a huge transition and it shouldn’t be tackled without conscious action.” With Learch’s help, we rounded up a list of items that students would be wise to tackle prior to heading to college.
“Ensure that all your kids’ final official documents are submitted,” says Learch. “Official means unopened and untouched—things like transcripts (including graduation date), test scores, AP, KLEP, College Entrance Exam scores, all have to be official.” If not, says Learch, the college can put a hold on your child’s account. “It’s really up to the student to stay on top of that. The student can’t just go on the assumption that their high school will send that for them.” If your child is receiving financial aid, there are even more documents that need to be submitted. “Financial Aid paperwork is a maze and it needs to be given more than just a little bit of attention. Follow up and ensure that it’s all in order.” Most schools also require immunization records, so be sure your child is up-to-date with shots and boosters.
Get a Job
Whether they’re going away to college or not, many kids will likely need a summer job—for books, spending money or to help with college loans. Plus, a job would keep them occupied outside of the house. “Everybody has different needs and comes from a different economic set,” says Learch. “You need to have a discussion with your kids about what they need. Some kids have to work to be able to make some change and enjoy themselves outside of class. Othershave the ability to rest and relax.” If your child is lucky enough to forgo the summer job, he or she would still be wise to take on a challenge. “Internship opportunities are fantastic as long as they don’t burn you out,” adds Learch.
“Don’t check out 100% during summer,” says “Learch. “You’ll be reading way more than you did in high school, no matter what your major.” Even if your child doesn’t have a love of reading for its own sake, summertime is a good time to prepare for the inevitable slew of literature classes he’ll be taking. Some freshman seminars assign summer reading, so be sure and check with your child to see if this is the case.
Freshman orientation is usually required, but it’s a good opportunity to ask any unanswered questions, and learn more about housing, rules, and extra-curricular activities. “Kids should go to orientation fully prepared to soak it all in,” says Learch. “It honors that transition that they’re in, and it gives them all the steps they need to show up on the first day of class. It’s also a good time to meet people, and not be so uncomfortable on their first day.”