Summer Before College

The summer before college begins was probably one of the most emotionally contradicting times in my life. I was excited for a new experience to begin, but I was also nervous about the change. It was the first summer in my life when I did not have any assignments to worry about, but I still didn’t feel totally relaxed because I felt like I should be doing something productive with my time.

If you are a recent high school graduate feeling this way, I know exactly how you feel. Looking back, I realize that summer before college can actually be very productive and helpful toward your college career. Here are some things I wish I had done the summer before college.

1. Travel

Rochester study abroad students in Madrid

Go to Madrid!

It’s your first summer with no academic obligations to worry about, so why not take time to travel? Once college begins, summers can be filled up with various internships and jobs, and it can be very difficult to travel. Traveling is not only a great way to make memories with your friends and family, but it also helps you learn more about yourself. You don’t have to go far, either; a day trip to a nearby city or town you’ve never seen can be a great adventure.

2. Learn about your academic interests

Rochester students in syntax class

Discover a passion for linguistics!

I know, learning during summer sounds boring. But learning does not have to be academic; learn about yourself and your academic interests. I used to be an undecided major, but I knew I was interested in film and art. So during the summer before my freshman year, I tried to visit as many art museums as possible and read about film and art. Watch documentaries, read articles, talk to family members, read books—anything that’ll help you learn. If you have not decided your major yet or are unsure about the major you have picked, summer is a good time to explore your academic interests.

And keep in mind you don’t necessarily have to pick a pre-existing major. Rochester allows students to create their own major, which typically is a unique intersection of existing areas of study, so that’s something to consider.

3. Start an exercise routine

Rochester's Aquatic Center

Get your swim on!

One of the biggest regrets of my freshman year of college is that I did not exercise at all. Exercise is not just about looking good, but it helps you become more aware and mentally and emotionally stable. It is very difficult to develop a regular exercise routine once college begins because you get very busy with classes and activities. Summer before college is the perfect time to develop your own exercise routine that you can easily follow once school begins. Rochester has a wonderful gym as well as a swimming pool, basketball courts, and an outdoor track that is accessible all throughout the day, so your exercise routine can actually be fun.

4. Map out your plans

Rochester student in peer advising

Talk to an advisor or a family member about your plans!

College seems like a long time, but four years actually fly by very quickly. It is so important to manage your time wisely so that you can take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities college has. Rochester has various student clubs, Greek organizations, volunteer programs, and study abroad opportunities just waiting for you. I especially recommend thinking about study abroad programs now because the process can require some time. You can always email your academic advisors, other students (like me), and even professors to ask about these opportunities before starting college.


Summer before college begins should be a fun and relaxing time for you to make memories with friends and family and to reward yourself for working hard during the last four years of your life. But it is also a great time to research more about your future and take time to think about which direction you want to take for the next four amazing years to come!

About the author

YooJung Chun

I'm a member of the Class of 2018, and I am majoring in art history. I was born in Seoul, South Korea, before moving to Chicago. I'm the Publicity Chair for the Korean American Students' Association, and I also take piano lessons at the Eastman School of Music.

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