You’re almost done with your first semester of college. How do you feel? It probably went by really fast, and I’m here to tell you that before you know it, you’re going to be an upperclassman freaking out about being thrown into the real world too fast, too soon. Over the course of your undergraduate career, you’ll have three full summers before you graduate. What you should be doing the summer after freshman year? There is no absolute correct answer to this question, but this in itself might prove to be frustrating for some. Don’t worry – you still have time to decide, and you have a ton of options as to what you can do this summer.
1.Find an internship. This is pretty rare for students just completing their first year of college, but it does happen to a lucky few. You can find internships by going to career fairs or if you have personal connections, but most of the time, freshmen aren’t the ones interning over the summer. But if you’re really ambitious, go for it – it’ll give you some good experience and something noteworthy to put on your resume, even if it’s an unpaid internship. It doesn’t even have to be related to your major if you can’t find one that is.
2.Get a job or volunteer. Many freshmen go home for the summer, and that’s fine. You could pick up an old high school job, or get a new job – a little extra money to spend for sophomore year won’t hurt, especially when the new freshmen come in and you start to feel ignored when the upperclassmen start treating them instead of you. Or, you can volunteer at home too. Some possible volunteer positions could be working in a hospital, being a counselor at a camp, or tutoring.
3.Study abroad. I personally have not studied abroad, but I hear that it’s an amazing experience, no matter where you go. If you want to go and just chill in a foreign country, learn a different language, or just get some credits out of the way somewhere more exciting that Ann Arbor, you should definitely study abroad. If you’re worried about paying for a trip like this, don’t worry – the university has plenty of financial aid options for those who’d like to study abroad. If you’d like to go abroad anywhere from a couple weeks to a few months, Michigan has a myriad of opportunities for everyone. Please visit http://internationalcenter.umich.edu/swt/study/ for more information.
4.Take classes. This isn’t a super appealing option, especially when you’ll have already been through two semesters of class, but it can be really helpful in the long run. If you feel like you’re a little behind on credits, or if you really don’t know what you want to study yet, this could be a good option for you. Keep in mind that you can do this at Michigan (make sure you look into off-campus housing, since dorms aren’t available over spring/summer term for students) OR you can do it at an easier, less stressful school or community college. If you take classes elsewhere, keep in mind that the grade you receive won’t transfer, but the credit will (i.e., the grade you get at a different school won’t be counted in your GPA; you’ll only receive credit for the class). Another reason why this could be an appealing option is that certain classes here at Michigan are infamous for destroying GPAs. I strongly recommend for anyone who needs to take Math 215 (Calc 3), Physics 140, or Physics 240 to take it off campus, or at least not during the regular school year. Even Math 116 (Calc 2), if taken at a different college, could take some weight off your back. These classes require a lot of work and the majority of students go through excruciating pain to even pull off a B. If you want to take it at Michigan, I would recommend taking just one of those classes at a time during a spring or summer term. That being said, if you take classes during spring/summer term (here or at a different school), beware that the terms are half as short as a regular semester, so a 4 credit-hour class might meet 8 hours per week and you will learn the material twice as quickly.
5.Play. Honestly, since it’s your freshman summer, and you feel good about classes and all that, just go play. Catch up on sleep. Do nothing. This is probably the last summer of your life where you aren’t going to feel the pressures of society and work coming down on you. You’re probably going to want to be productive during your sophomore and junior summers, but you can get away with chilling after freshman year. But since it will be probably get really boring really fast, you might want to think about something you could do to pass time, like taking a road trip, learning how to cook, or working on losing that Freshman 15.
My friend, who studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain, on a weekend trip to Lagos, Portugal.
My brother and I visiting Taipei, Taiwan over the summer. We took language classes there.