CINCINNATI -- Shane Beers has his stuff together. A 17-year-old senior at Cooper High School in Burlington, Kentucky, he has earned a scholarship to Bucknell University in Pennsylvania – the school he’s always wanted to attend. He recently went to his senior prom, and he knows exactly what he needs to do in his last summer before heading off to college.
Call it the Seniors’ Bucket List. A couple of things he wants to do? Travel and spend time with his family. But these priorities can be different for each student.
So here’s the question: What should they do during their last summer vacation before heading off to college? It’s the last time students really get the chance to be a kid, the last time they can chill without the pressure of college or adulthood.
We caught up with high school and college students to create nine bucket list items, in no particular order, for their last months of freedom:
1. Spend time with your family and pets. “I think spending time with family is the most important thing to do,” Beers said. “I know I'll be doing internships and study abroad during summers, so I'm not sure when I'll see family. I’m going to be going to the Outer Banks this summer with them.” Emily Witt, a senior at the University of Cincinnati, advised keeping furry friends in mind. “Spend a bunch of time with your dog – majorly guilty here,” she said. Chelsea Wendling, a junior at Thomas More College, agreed. “Make time to spend with family and pets, because the worst part of freshman year is dealing with not having them around all the time,” she said.
2. Make time for your high school friends. “I remember doing prep for college and hanging out with my friends, going to grad parties and exploring Cincy with them before we all went our separate ways,” Witt said. “I would tell kids to try to find a balance between remembering high school and your city and your friends.”
3. Travel. Whenever. Wherever. “Lately I’ve been fascinated with places here in the U.S.,” said Hunter Williams, a nursing student at Gateway Community and Technical College. “The Grand Canyon, for example, or Mount Rushmore. Just anywhere, really.”
4. Make sure you’ve got all your college stuff together. “Right before I first came to college, I was just rushing to get my financial aid together,” said Kaelan Doolan, a junior at Xavier University. “It was probably the most stressful summer of my life.”
5. Get out of your comfort zone. “If you've always wanted to do something crazy, then do it,” Witt said. “Get that tattoo. Go skinny dipping. Ask out your crush. Whatever you want to do, do it.” Williams agreed: “I wanted a new perspective going into college, and for me I decided to step out of my comfort zone and meet as many people as I could.”
6. Keep yourself busy. “As an adult, you can go kind of stir-crazy doing nothing for three months,” Doolan said. “I recommend either trying to get an internship or summer job. If you don't do either of those, then I recommend getting a hobby.”
7. Get on social media. “Join a Facebook group of your new college graduating class – like UC class of 2021 or something – and/or try to meet people from your area that are going to your school,” Witt said.
8. Relax. Take a break and clear your head. “I really regret rushing through that summer,” Wendling said. “I’m sure it goes by quickly for everyone, but I think I tried to cram in too many visits with people. I would recommend a beach vacation, because it doesn't get much more relaxing than that.
9. Throw a great grad party and have no regrets. “I did a weekend away with my friends – we went to a lake house – and it wasn't anything too wild or crazy, but it was just a blast to be with them,” Witt said. “Then get ready for college and get excited about that, too.”
Beers is already excited about college. “Honestly, I've been ready to leave high school for a long time now,” he said. “I started researching colleges my freshman year and started touring some sophomore year.”
Still, he knows life is about to change.
“I'll miss Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky because I have a connection with this area,” he said. “It's going to be a much different lifestyle at college.”