Your time in college—during the academic year, that is—is, of course, filled with stressors like classes, papers, lab reports, and exams. It is also happily filled with the fun stuff, like friends, parties, going out, and a seemingly endless schedule of upcoming events and activities. During the summer, however, the social scene in your life can drastically decrease, especially if you're no longer on campus and spend your days at a job or internship.
What's a college student to do?
Get Some Culture
1.. Go to a museum. Go see some art, plants, science, history, or anything else you find interesting. And make sure to use your student ID for a discount.
2.. Go to a film festival. Film festivals can be a great way to see new, independent films that you might not otherwise see, and summer is a great time to find a festival that focuses on the kinds of films you like.
3. Go to a concert. Who doesn't like a late-night, all-out, super-fun, big-name concert?
4. Go to a music festival. The weather's nice, the music's great, and the people are fun and interesting. Take advantage of summer music festivals while you can.
5. Go to a play. It doesn't have to be Shakespeare but it should be fun. When's the last night you went to the theater—not for a class—anyway?
6. Learn an instrument. You may have always had a desire to play the piano, learn the flute, or even play the drums.
Why not learn now when you have the time and freedom to really put your heart into it?
7. Take an art class. Learning to make pottery or how to paint, for example, can be a great way to learn how to release your creative side.
8. Try your hand at creative writing. You can try to write poems, a short story, or even music.
You never know what you might come up with when you have the time and freedom to really let your mind explore!
9. Take a photography class. It can be a great way to have fun, meet people, get some skills, and see new parts of your town.
Get Lost in a Good Story
10. Read a new release book. It can be science fiction, general fiction, trashy romance, murder mystery, historical fiction—but it doesn't matter. Grab the latest release and let your brain take a break.
11. Read a classic. Always hearing about a classic book one of your friends or family members loves? Been curious about a novel you never read in high school? Summer is the perfect chance to finally sit down and read it.
12. Buy a magazine you don't usually read. It can be intellectual, like The Economist, or ridiculous and fun, like People. But when's the last time you just let yourself sit, veg out, and read a magazine?
13. Get an audio book. Fair enough: you may read enough during the year to not want your nose in another book over the summer. Consider buying (or getting from the library) an audiobook that you can listen to while working out or driving around.
14. Try a new form of exercise. Been curious about yoga, pilates, spinning, or something else?
The summer is a great time to explore something new and see if it's a fit.
15. Join a community sports team. Most places have community sports team that play in the summer; they can range from competitive baseball to completely silly kickball leagues. See what's in your area and what you can join for the few months you're free.
16. Take a class at the gym. Summer can be a great time to get in shape. Your local gym probably has classes you can join that will help you exercise your body—and relax your brain.
17. Go golfing. Never been? Golfing can be a great workout, a fun way to spend the day outside, and an important skill to learn if you're interested in going into the business field.
18. Take a dance class. Feel awkward when you go out clubbing with friends? A dance class can help, even if it's something funky like swing or salsa.
19. Go for a bike ride. People seem to ride bikes less and less the older they get. But bike rides can be a fun way to get out and get some exercise.
20. Do something that challenges your fears. Terrified of skydiving? Bungee jumping? And yet … do you secretly also want to try them? Grab a friend and conquer your fears.
Get Social and Give Back
21. Volunteer. Think of the last time you volunteered. Didn't you feel great afterward? No matter where you leave, there's undoubtedly places that could use your time, energy, and smarts.
22. Join a community group. Treat yourself to something fun that also gets you out into the community, like a running or hiking club.
23. Organize an event at your church, temple, mosque, etc. If you're a little bored this summer, chances are others are, too. Organize something fun with people you have something in common with.
24. Try a new video game. Seriously, it's summer. What better time is there to grab a new game and play it without worrying about that paper you'd have to write if it were the school year?
25. Watch a movie marathon. You can rent a ton of your faves or just watch a themed marathon on a TV network.
26. Spend a weekend seeing all the new releases. Grab a friend and see if you can see all the new releases in one weekend. With food in the theater, there's no reason why you can just spend all day there, seeing movie after movie!
27. Try a new idea: breakfast and a movie. Just wake up? Call a friend and meet at a local place that serves 24/7 breakfasts ASAP. Then amble over to the theater and enjoy whatever movie is next playing. Added bonus: breakfast is cheaper than dinner, and matinees are cheaper than the later shows.
28. Head to an amusement park. It's a summer classic and can easily turn into one of the highlights of your summer.
See the World—Or Explore Your Own Backyard
29. Take a bus or a train somewhere new. Flying can be so cheap these days that folks sometimes forget about the bus or train. But sometimes the journey is half the fun, and you'll see new parts of the country you'd never see from the air.
30. Take a quick flight somewhere new. Since flights, especially last-minute deals, can be so cheap, why not hop a flight this weekend and see a friend?
31. Act like a tourist in your own town. If you were in your town on vacation, what would you do? You might surprise yourself by finding new things to do and see.
32. Go camping. Camping during the school year can be a challenge, both because of your workload and because of the weather. Utilize all that summer has to offer for the great outdoors.
33. Try a new kind of food or restaurant. Heard people talk about how delicious Peruvian food is, for example? Or have you always been secretly afraid to try sushi? Challenge yourself to try something new (to you).
34. Experiment in the kitchen/Learn to cook. During school, you probably don't have much time to learn how to cook; you just need food, fast. Use some of your summer free time to learn how to cook.
35. Take a knife class. Learning how to properly use a knife in the kitchen is both handy and impressive—and yet very few people do it correctly. Taking a knife class at a local cooking school will be entertaining and super helpful as you learn to cook for yourself more and more.
36. Take a bartending class. It's fun, it's handy, it's a great way to meet people with similar interests. What's not to like?
37. Host your own Iron Chef competition. Gather several friends and divide them into groups. Then, at a certain time one Saturday morning, e-mail out the secret ingredient. Everyone has to report back to, say, your house at 5:00. People will have fun and you'll have dinner on top of it.
38. Get a massage at a massage school. You're a student; you know how important it is to learn by doing. Find a local massage school and help another student learn his or her trade. Added bonus: massage-school massages are usually way cheaper than the regular ones and just as good.
39. Get a funky haircut. You may not even get a haircut while you're away at school. Why not use summer as a time to get a little funky with color or style?
Take Full Advantage of the Summer Season
40. Go to a major sports game. Baseball, basketball, soccer—it doesn't matter. Grab some friends and head to the stadium.
41. Go to a minor sports game. Things like minor league baseball games can be incredibly fun and much cheaper than the big leagues. See who's around your town and when you can watch 'em play.
42. Grab some kites, friends, burgers, beers, and a picnic table. With that combo, how can you go wrong?
43. Go to a water park. Summer is prime time for water park fun—as long as you remember the suntan lotion.
44. Make your own fun "water park day." You don't have to have a water park near you to enjoy yourself. Grab some water balloons, a Slip 'n Slide, a kiddie pool (that can be used for lounging or even, when filled with ice, for storing drinks), some friends, and a hose.
Set Yourself Up For Success
45. Get a head start on your fall classes. Alright, this one may sound lame, but it can do wonders for your mental health to look over your syllabi and perhaps get a head start on the reading—especially for a class you might be geeked out about.
46. Set up systems for success for the new year. Okay, this also sounds lame, but think about it: Did you struggle with time management? Being organized? Spending a little time now, while you have it, may save you a lot of time and frustration once school starts.
47. Take an online class. You won't have to commute, you can save some cash, and you might even get ahead on the credits you'll need to graduate.
48. Build a personal website. If you're going to be graduating next year, a personal website can be a great way to advertise yourself to future employers and show them all your mad skills. Make sure to keep it clean and professional.
49. Go through your old stuff and donate what you don't use or need. Do you have things for 2 lives: your college life and your pre-college life? Someone, somewhere will probably be grateful for all of those sweatshirts and t-shirts you're no longer using.
50. Clean up your e-life. Super fun? Probably not. Will you feel better afterward? Most definitely. Dump your old facebook friends, clean up your laptop desktop, and delete old pictures you don't want—or would hate to get in the wrong hands—from your camera or phone. A clean e-slate is a great way to start your new year.