It is possible that your college student will be staying on campus for the summer — either for summer classes, a summer job, research or an internship. But for most college students, the end of the spring term means returning home for the summer, or at least heading off campus. Your student is anxious and can’t wait to get off campus, but before he fills up that car and heads home, there are some things that he should do. A little time spent now can make the return next fall go much more smoothly.
Talk to your student about how he is wrapping up the semester. It may not be easy for him to think past those final exams and papers, but suggest that he plan ahead to summer and to next fall and anticipate some of the things that will help.
1. Fall Schedule – One of the most important things that your student can do is to make sure that she has an appropriate schedule of classes for fall semester. Working with her academic advisor, she should plan the courses that will move her along in her major, with her all-college requirements, and/or explore areas of interest. Waiting until fall to form a schedule or add classes will not only add stress over the summer, but may reduce her chances of getting the classes that she needs.
2. Summer Classes – If your student is planning to take any summer classes at another institution (perhaps closer to home) he should have those classes approved for transfer before he leaves. This will prevent any chance of your student taking a course and finding out that it will not transfer or will not fulfill the requirement that he had hoped.
3. Summer Storage — Students will need to pack up their belongings and move out of their residence hall rooms for the summer — even if they will be living in the same room next year. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that students need to bring everything home and back again. Many schools provide summer storage for some belongings. If the school does not provide storage, there may be a storage rental facility nearby. Your student should know what he can store at the school, where it needs to be taken, and how it must be packed and labeled. If he plans to rent storage space, he should make those arrangements as early as possible. Perhaps he can join with several other students to share a space.
4. Organize paperwork — Before your student packs all of his belongings for the summer, taking a few minutes to organize his paperwork will be helpful later. Creating a filing system (even if that simply means a box) of coursework and syllabi from the semester is key. Your student may need to refer to graded papers later to defend a grade. He may need to refer to a syllabus to see whether a course will transfer or serve as a pre-requisite for another course. Being an organized packrat in terms of paperwork may be essential later.
5. Textbooks — Many students sell their textbooks at the end of the semester. Many students buy used books at the beginning of a new semester. If your student is planning to sell or buy used textbooks, some effort now may help. Although the college bookstore may buy and sell used books, they generally pay low and charge high. If your student can make any student-to-student connections now, she will save more money. This may mean finding out now what books will be required for fall courses. It may mean finding someone currently enrolled in that course to ask if they want to sell books. It may mean finding someone who’d like your student’s books from this term.
6. Housing — Room selection and housing are often a source of high anxiety for students. Once your student knows where she will be living in the fall, whether on campus or off, she may want to try to gather some information that will help with planning over the summer. If there is a possibility of seeing the room or apartment, that may help. How big are the windows? How much furniture will fit? Is there a color scheme? Will the previous resident be able to leave behind or sell anything?
7. Internship — Is your student planning to do an internship over the summer or in the fall semester? She will want to make sure that all of the paperwork is completed and submitted. It is much easier to follow up while still on campus than from a distance. Having all of the pieces in place now will avoid issues later.
8. Fall jobs — Most college students now have jobs either on or off campus. Your student may be hoping to work next year — perhaps a work-study job as part of his financial aid package. While your student might wait until the fall to line up a job, doing so now will not only give him an advantage, but will ease his mind over the summer. He may or may not be able to get a commitment, but he can submit his name. He may then want to follow up over the summer before he returns to campus.
9. Connections and conversations — Is there anyone on campus that your student should connect with while he is still here? Is there any reason to talk to a professor about this term or next term? It is much better to do it in person. Does your student need copies of transcripts or other records? Check with the Registrar now. Will your student need a reference or recommendation? It is much better to ask for that in person.
10. Leadership planning — Will your student have the opportunity to step into some leadership position next year? Perhaps your student will be a member of student government, be a club officer, or have a position as a tutor or teaching assistant. Gathering helpful information and resources now will help your student be able to use the summer to prepare for new responsibilities.
Not every one of these suggestions will be helpful to every student. Your student may already be one step ahead and have taken care of some of these tasks. But the process of discussing some of these with your student will also help you learn more about your student’s plans and dreams for next year.