Having a plan is always better than no plan at all. College is no different.
College planning is a continuous process. It doesn’t stop when you get accepted to college, and it doesn’t stop when you decide on a major. It doesn’t even really stop when you’re a senior preparing to graduate; it just morphs into more general “life” planning.
One recommendation is to keep busy during your summers. The temptation is strong to just take a break; you’ve spent all semester in school, you just finished exams, and the last thing anyone wants to do at that point is going to work or take even more classes.
But, here’s the thing: success after college requires much more than just good grades.
Planning to get some internship or practical work experience out of the way during the summer months will free up your regular semester hours for more classes, perhaps to finish up your minor or second major. Or, you can do it the other way around.
Take some classes you need to complete your major during the summer months so you can have that internship in the fall or spring without worrying about how it will affect your other coursework.
This can be especially helpful when considering whether, or when, you want to spend time abroad.
Many schools offer the options of spending either a semester abroad, or just a few weeks in a special course traveling overseas. Both have their advantages, but signing up for either requires some advance planning that goes hand in hand with determining what you want to do with your summers in college.
Internships are a great way to explore career options you might be interested in pursuing, whether straight out of college or after graduate school.
Internships are also the best way to develop connections, references, and various skills that will help you out down the road.
Sometimes an internship can even lead to a job with whatever company or organization you work for, especially if you make a strong, good impression on them.
Work experience is similar to getting an internship, but with two key differences: you can make money while you work (many college internships are unpaid), and you don’t get class credit.
You may also be less likely to get a job in a field you want to pursue after college, but this depends heavily on your major and personal interests.
If you can, however, this is a great option for the summer, since you will still have time to hang out with friends and actually have money to do things with them.
The big thing to remember, though, is that your summer months are not just a time to relax and reset your batteries after the school year is over.
You don’t have to work your butt off, and you don’t have to completely give up on your social life. However, you do need to keep yourself involved in developing your future career prospects and taking advantage of your college years.
Don’t rest on your laurels during the summers; do something to keep your life and future plans chugging along.