Quick….close your eyes and think about summer. What pops into your mind? Visions of tropical beaches and aquarium blue water? Lying on the couch with your favorite book or video game? Perhaps a pool full of flamingo inflatables and an afternoon with friends? Well, what if I suggested that the best way to spend your summer is on a college campus? Not convinced yet? Let me explain.
Although it may be hard to wrap your head around spending your precious summer months back in school, being on a college campus really is a fantastic way to fully engage in something completely new.
Though visiting is possible through touring, in order to spend a summer on campus your best option is a pre college program. Most, colleges have pre-college programs which can easily be found by looking at their websites.
Stretching yourself academically, socially, culturally, geographically, and emotionally usually leads to growth. And growth leads to learning more about ourselves, what works for us, what doesn’t, and what we want to learn more about. There are a multitude of reasons why you should say, “YES!” to this experience if you have the opportunity.
Stepping foot onto a college campus allows you to “feel” the campus in a way that a website or a brochure just can’t convey. Seeing the buildings in person, eating spaghetti in the cafeteria, walking the path from the dorms to the lecture hall create a picture that can only be painted in person.
I have also learned that if you add people to this picture, it changes again. Having toured universities with and without a guide, I can say with confidence that interacting with students on campus is a bit like peeking into a window to the soul of a university. It shows you things you would have otherwise never known, and connects you to the heart of the school.
Living a week, or two, or even more on a campus in summer multiplies all those benefits exponentially. So if there is a school you are really interested in, spending part of your summer there will surely tell you if it is a good fit for you. Dining halls, small rooms, shared showers anyone?
It’s one thing to know about it, and a whole different thing to live it. Getting to dip your little toe in the water before completely jumping in when you head off to college is such a confidence boost. You already have an idea of what it will be like, and you have some experience to put you more at ease when the time comes. In addition, you can use this time to visit colleges in the surrounding area, especially if you are far away from home.
Not only are you getting the “feel” of many new campuses, you are also learning about the areas in which the universities are located. Are you drawn to the remote woodsy location of campus? Do you enjoy walking from your dorm right into the heart of the big city? Are you giddy at the idea of experiencing four seasons for the first time ever?
Seeing the areas around each university, and also experiencing parts of the country you have never been to are bonuses that come with spending time on a college campus in summer. These experiences will play a central role when it comes to deciding where to apply to college and which school will be the best fit for you.
In a similar way, meeting and learning from college professors is exciting and empowering. The classroom structure and discussions are just a little different and the experience is invigorating. It’s like getting a sneak peak into your future. It makes you anticipate what’s to come with enthusiasm and a bit more confidence.
Last, but certainly not least, one of my personal favorite reasons for spending your summer on a college campus is the people you meet. Mostly it’s the other summer students, but also the college students, faculty, and staff. The people are what make the experience come to life. Being surrounded by passionate, unique, dedicated people from all over the country and all over the world is amazing!
There are common interests, eye opening differences and everything in between, and the friendships that are built are as unique as the people creating them. I am still close friends with people I met last summer, and although a year has passed, and we live not only in different states but different countries and continents, our shared experiences and passions unite us.
Although the price tag for some of these programs can be somewhat daunting, most do offer opportunities for aid. These offset the cost of the program and sometimes help to cover the traveling fees as well.
So as we head into another school year, and this summer distances itself in the rearview mirror, I am sure that you are not exactly thinking about your plans for next June. But before you know it, the holidays will be over, and we will be considering how we will fill the warm days of our next summer.
I hope I have at least made you consider spending them on a college campus.