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Planning a Meaningful Freshman Summer

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Your freshman summer will present you with a unique opportunity: a looong period of time - perhaps as much as fifteen weeks or, in other words, the equivalent of an entire school semester - away from academics.

For most of you, this will be the first time since you first went to kindergarten thirteen or so years ago that you will have this much time off.

What are you going to do with such an incredible opportunity?

Review Your Goals For Freshman Year

The first thing you need to do is take a look at the goals you set for your freshman year.

What did you identify as the things you hoped to accomplish during your freshman year? How many of them have you actually accomplished so far? Which ones might be things you could work on this summer?

Explore Your Academic Interests

What have you learned about your academic interests this year? Are there possible related careers you might want to explore this summer? For example, if you are interested in pursuing a career in medicine, do you want to try to get a job working on a research team in a laboratory this summer? Or working in a hospital? Or working for a rehabilitation center or a hospice care agency? Even if all you do is deskwork, you will be making important contacts and spending your time in furtherance of your interests and goals.

Have you identified a particular subject as a likely major? Is there a particular professor in that major whose work sounds interesting to you? Maybe someone with whom you might someday take an independent study, or whom you might use as your senior thesis adviser? Is this person hiring a research assistant for the summer? Even if he or she isn't, there might be other professors in the department who have books coming out or important articles in process that need research help. Again, this is a great way to forward your goals and interests while making money at the same time.

Explore Your Extracurricular Interests

Like music? Are you proficient in an instrument or in voice such that you could make a bunch of money teaching at an upscale summer tourist destination, such as Nantucket, the Hamptons, or the Outer Banks? If you are a huge fan of a particular band or musical artist who is touring this summer, have you given any thought to trying to get a job as a roadie or T-shirt salesperson with the band? Life on the road is full of adventures . . .

Are you a varsity athlete? What about offering one-on-one skills lessons in a sport like golf, tennis, soccer, or basketball at one of those tourist spots, where well-heeled parents are always willing to spend money to help their kids develop skills?

Explore Your Social Interests

If you determined that you want to try to become more social, you could take a summer job somewhere new, away from your hometown, where you will be forced to be social - working as a concierge at an inn or hotel somewhere, working as a waiter or waitress in a crowded tourist spot, leading tours of your college campus, or doing anything that will force you to speak in front of people and interact with strangers. Feeling comfortable in new social settings is a learned skill. If it is one you want to improve, dedicate some time to practicing it. Note that if you work as a waiter or a waitress for this reason, you are making money and advancing one of your goals at the same time.

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