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21 Fun Things to Do in the Summer Before College

Photo of a college campus during summer

You did it, you graduated high school! Now the future is wide open with possibilities. But before you head off to college, you have one last free summer to make special memories. Don’t waste a minute of it! To help make this the best summer ever, here are 21 awesome ideas to add to your summer before-college bucket list.

Travel Somewhere New

Summer before college is the perfect time to check off your travel goals. Take a trip somewhere exciting to get out of your comfort zone and excitement before college takes over. Road trips with friends to the beach, backpacking across Europe, taking a cruise, or visiting national parks are all great options. Wherever you explore, travel is an eye-opening experience that will inspire memories to last a lifetime. Capture plenty of pics and stories to take with you to college!

Read Classic Coming-of-Age Books


Besides travel adventures, summer reading is essential! Books have a magical way of taking us to new places without ever leaving home. Plus reading helps prepare your mind for college reading loads. Some great coming-of-age stories to add to your book queue are The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Fault in Our Stars, Eleanor and Park, Six of Crows, and Everything, Everything. Dive into these beloved teen page-turners for characters and stories that will speak to what you’re experiencing.

Binge Watch Iconic Coming-of-Age Movies

Along with books, movies are another awesome way to soak up stories about the high school to college transition. Inspiring coming-of-age classics like Dead Poets Society, Superbad, Lady Bird, Moonrise Kingdom, Stand By Me and Boyhood perfectly capture the questions we all ask ourselves about life after high school. Stream these tales for laughs, tears, and memories so vivid they’ll feel like your own.

Create an Epic Summer Bucket List

summer adventures

Now you have some ideas – time to make your bucket list to crush this summer! Draft up a list of everything you want to squeeze out of these precious months. Try including a healthy mix of:

  • Travel goals
  • Fun activities with friends
  • New hobbies, sports, or skills to pick up
  • Books/movies/music to enjoy
  • Special family time
  • Bucket list adventures like skydiving!

Post it where you’ll see it daily for inspiration to achieve it all. This is your guiding star for summer fun.

Spend Time With Childhood Friends

The squad you grew up with knows you better than anyone. However, people and interests tend to drift apart after high school when friends move away for college. That makes this summer before college so special – likely one of the last with friends who feel like family before your lives branch out. Have slumber parties, beach trips, and just lazy days doing nothing together. Capture the memories with lots of pics for the gram and scrapbooks!

Take Interesting Classes or Workshops

Before declaring a college major, the summer before college opens the door for experimenting with potential interests. Get a taste of teaching babies swim lessons, acting in a local play, launching your own Etsy shop, or whatever catches your eye! Many community centers, gyms, theaters, churches, and colleges offer mini-classes just for summer. Not only will trying new things help you grow, but it also looks impressive on college apps.

Get a Summer Job

In addition to short workshops, consider a regular summer job for earning extra cash, padding your resume, and gaining real-world experience. The possibilities are truly endless – think lifeguarding, working at an ice cream shop, summer camp counseling, waitressing, helping at a vet clinic, being a nanny or Mother’s helper, and more. Bonus if you can land an internship related to your intended college major! Either way, work will teach responsibility useful for college.

Volunteer for a Cause You Care About

Giving back feels amazing, helps communities, and boosts your applications too. Food pantries, animal shelters, conservation organizations, community gardens, literacy programs for kids, and more are likely to need volunteers. Based on your passions, do some research then dedicate a few hours each week. You’ll contribute to something bigger than yourself. What cause inspires you to help?

Go Camping

A photo of teenagers camping in the summer before college

Tap into your wild spirit by getting outside and one with nature! Pitch a tent beneath the stars, gather around a crackling campfire making s’mores, go hiking and fishing, breathe fresh pine-scented air, and disconnect from screens. Camping is nostalgic, budget-friendly, and always a bonding adventure with friends or family. Roast wienies, play guitar, and sing campfire songs all night!

Attend Summer Festivals and Concerts

I know we just talked about unplugging but FOMO is real! Be sure to RSVP yes to every fun summer bash and show that comes your way. It’s worth it to make epic musical memories from live performances. Outdoor venues are part of what makes warm-weather events so stinking fun too! Whether you love local bands at the park, bigger acts at arenas, or full-blown Coachella-style festivals, say yes to them all!

Learn to Cook Your Fave Meals

Let’s be honest, surviving on ramen noodles in the dorms is not the ideal nutrition plan. Get ahead before move-in day by learning how to make your signature family recipes. Mastering the basics of cooking your favorite comfort foods plus a couple of easy healthy-ish go-tos will be a plus for when you move out. Meal prep your own food rather than blow money on eating out.

Start Your Own Blog

One amazingly productive way to fill summer days is starting your very own blog! Doing so will let you expand your writing skills, share your inner thoughts and interests, practice using your voice, and maybe even open doors career-wise down the road. You certainly don’t have to share it with anyone but could be therapeutic. Either way, the process will get your creative juices flowing heading into college.

Pick Up a Brand New Hobby

Ballet, knitting, martial arts, rollerblading, rock climbing, jewelry making… stop me if you’ve heard these a million times, but summer before college truly is primetime for discovering new pastimes. With less academic stress, you finally have the time to dedicate towards self-growth through hobbies that spark your curiosity. Developing interests outside academics is invaluable for your well-being. Explore what fills your cup through the local community!

Dream Up Your Ideal Dorm Room

In the craziness of actual college move-in day, you’ll appreciate already having a dorm room vision including ideas for storage, space-saving hacks, and cute decor. Spend a day online pinning ideas to a vision board. Brainstorm color schemes, essentials you’ll need, and extra touches that express your style. mapping it out early removes future stress so you can focus on connecting with rommies.

Tour Local College Campuses

A photo of a local college campus

By now you should have decided which college is the best fit for next year. But even if not heading there or are already finished with the acceptance process, touring nearby campuses is still crazy helpful. Setting foot on quads and inside lecture halls demystifies what’s to come at your own future school. Chat up with tour guides and current students for the real insider scoop. It’s a bonus if you can schedule overnight stays in the dorms!

Do College Orientation and Pre-College Programs

Most colleges offer summer programs to introduce new students to everything from campus tours to registering for classes and making friends. Usually, you stay overnight, receive your student ID, meet advisors, and get familiar faces to come and move in. If this isn’t required, still check if your school has optional orientation offers.

Research Scholarship Options

Paying college tuition is no joke, so get a jump by spending time researching any and all scholarships you qualify for. Look into local community groups, your school’s alumni fund, essay contests, awarded scholarships by major, needs-based assistance, and more. Applying is tedious but pays off! Even smaller scholarships add up to relieve the money burdens down the road.

Shop Early for Dorm Room Must-Haves

Another way to reduce impending back-to-school stress is tackling shopping essentials for your dorm and campus life well before move-in mayhem. Stock up on things like shower caddies, mattress toppers, organizers, decor, school supplies, and more ahead of time. Check sites like for college student discount codes to save.

Schedule Your Senior Photo Session

Before summertime fun results in a farmer’s tan, solidify plans for your mandatory senior photo session – because yearbook deadlines wait for no one! Look into local photographers’ offers now before their books are filled with sessions. Think outside the box for unique backdrops beyond the standard cloudy blue backdrop.

Soak Up Quality Family Time

The chaos of packing, buying supplies for dorms, and emotionally preparing for this milestone means quality time with family can easily get overlooked. So consciously carve out chunks devoted to your loved ones who will soon be long-distance. Have mom-daughter spa days, get nostalgic looking through childhood scrapbooks, or go through old bedroom toys and clothes to donate. Cherish these last months you’re all under one roof!

Seize All The Little Moments

Finally, the most important step on this bucket list is appreciating the little moments. Rather than only focusing on the future, pause frequently to be fully in each moment with the people you love. Squeeze in as much fun as you can imagine, but don’t wish this precious moment away either. These are the good old days so enjoy them fully this summer before college greets you! What memories will you make?

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