Just like that, another year of college is over. For me, it’s the third – and the second in which I’ll be staying on-campus for the summer. With that in mind, I thought I’d address a common concern for many students who feel “stuck” at school for the summer – boredom.
Let’s face it – your campus is a lot less exciting during the summer than it is during the school year. The main reason is because most of your friends are gone. School’s only been out for a few days here, and I’m already missing the friends that have left. Luckily, a few of them are staying. Maybe a few of yours are staying as well.
That doesn’t help the fact that a lot less is going on, though. Summer brings hardly any new events, and a lot of stuff is closed up.
Because of these two things, you might feel bored. Well, in the words of a great philosopher:
“Stop it.” – me
Yes, there are fewer people around and fewer things going on during the summer. However, that doesn’t mean you have to be bored. In fact, you have no excuse to be bored – there are tons of things out there to keep you occupied as long as you make them happen.
With that in mind, I have 7 awesome ideas to keep you from being bored this summer on campus. You don’t have to do all of them, but why not? You probably have the time…
Learn a New Skill
Without classes, clubs, study group meetings, homework, and whatever other crap you guys do during the year bogging you down, your time is very free during the summer. Sure, you might have a job that takes up some of that time, but once you clock out, you’re free.
Instead of spending your time watching old episodes of Megas XLR and Big O, take the free time you have to learn a new, useful skill. I’m sure you have a few in the back of your mind, but I’ll provide you with a few ideas just in case. You could learn:
- How to cook 5-10 decent meals (here’s a good book)
- Graphic design (Photoshop, Illustrator) – take advantage of Lynda.com
- How to speak a foreign language
- To play pool like a pro (I’m actually taking a billiards class next semester)
These are just a few random ideas. Find what interests you and pursue it. Need more inspiration? Here are 50 more ideas.
Work on Your Personal Brand
As I’ve explained before, building an effective personal brand is key to getting the job you want and realizing your full potential. If you want the work you do to mean something, you have to make sure people know about it. You have to build yourself up as an expert in whatever field you’re looking to break into.
Summer is an excellent time to work on building your brand. With classes and other distractions out of the way, you have the time to really focus on how you want yourself to be seen professionally.
Here’s a checklist of things you can do this summer to build your brand and lay a great foundation for when you start internship-hunting in the fall:
- Build a personal website
- Get your own (awesome) business cards
- Hit up networking events in your area and meet people
- Get your resume critiqued by your career counselor (she’s probably really bored right now)
- Find a friend who’s trying to learn that photography skill and get some great self-portraits for said website and business cards
- Make sure your online profiles are professional (read: delete your keg stand pics) and start using them to network with people in your field.
- Create a portfolio of the work you’ve done and make sure people can see it (put it on your website like I did)
I can’t stress this enough: you need to actively build a personal brand. Gone are the days when you can just get a degree and expect to have a job lined up. You have to get your name out there and make connections, and building a personal brand is how you do it.
To get even more in-depth with personal branding, sign up for my newsletter using the form at the bottom of this post. When I release my upcoming personal branding toolbox, you’ll have access to lots more resources that can help you build your brand even more effectively.
Get Out and Meet New People
Yes, I mentioned going to networking events and meeting people in the last tip, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about making friends.
Since most of your friends probably won’t be on campus this summer, you’re apt to have a pretty boring three months unless you connect with the other people who have decided to stay at school for the summer as well. Luckily, all of those people are probably just as bored as you, so they will most likely be very open to meeting new people. You just have to make it happen!
Here are a few ideas for meeting the other people sharing your campus this summer:
- If you’re living in on-campus housing, you’ll probably have a move-in day. Get all your stuff moved fast and then go offer to help others. They’ll really appreciate the help, and you’ll have an excuse to meet new people. You’ll also get a good workout that day 😉
- Simply go door-to-door in your new dorm or apartment building and introduce yourself.
- Invite your neighbors to grill out and play ultimate frisbee. Who doesn’t like doing that? (For the ones who don’t, suggest a Smash Bros. tournament)
- Keep an eye out for events happening on campus during the summer. Just because there are a lot less doesn’t mean there are absolutely none.
- Hit the gym often. You’ll probably find lots of people doing the same and might even find a workout buddy.
I’d even go as far as to say it’s easier to meet new people during the summer. Since people don’t have their regular friend groups to hang out with, they’ll be much more willing to get out and meet new people. Take advantage of this.
Focus on Your Health
My tip on hitting the gym often in the last section isn’t just for meeting people. It’s important to keep your health in check, and summer presents a perfect opportunity for you to focus intensely on your fitness goals.
First off, you need to get some goals. Maybe you want to run a 5K. Maybe you want to bench 250. Either way, write down your goals and make them quantifiable. Add them to your Impossible List. Then start working on them.
Don’t know where to start? Well, if you don’t have any specific goals in mind, I’ll help you out: start lifting. Being on campus, you probably have easy access to a gym, and building foundational strength will help you with any other fitness goals you have.
I’d recommend you do a starting strength program if you’re a beginner. (if you’re not, you probably don’t need this tip for anything other than motivation). This is a basic powerlifting routine that utilizes just a few compound lifts which will strengthen your entire body. It’s simple, and there aren’t a whole lot of exercises. However, the results are awesome (as long as your diet is in check as well). Here’s the starting strength routine I used to get to my current level:
- Barbell Squat – 3 sets of 5 reps
- Barbell Bench Press – 3 sets of 5 reps
- Dead Lift – 3 sets of 5 reps
- Dips – 3 sets, go until failure
- Barbell Squat – 3 sets of 5 reps
- Standing Barbell Shoulder Press – 3 sets of 5 reps
- Power Cleans – 3 sets of 5 reps
- Seated cable row (or Bent Over Barbell Row) – 3 sets of 5 reps
- Chinups – 3 sets, go until failure
That’s it! I recommend lifting three times a week, alternating between Day 1 and Day 2. This means you’ll do one of them twice in each week. When choosing a weight for each lift, use something that’s challenging at 5 reps – something that you can barely lift 5 times on your last set.
If you’re eating well, you’ll find that you’ll start improving your lifts very quickly. I sure did! During my freshman year, I took my squat from 165 to 270 in three months and greatly improved my other lifts as well.
Keep this in mind – lifting form is really important. You don’t want to injure yourself. Check out lifting form videos on YouTube, soak up knowledge on places like r/fitness, and consider getting an experienced lifting buddy.
Also, I think it’s really important to track your progress. That way, you’ll be able to see how much you’ve improved and keep yourself motivated to continue. In my opinion, the best way to track your workouts is Fitocracy. If you decide to use it, add me as a friend!
Get a Shot of Adrenaline
Guess what? You don’t have class tomorrow. Know what that means. It, like, totally doesn’t matter if you fall face-first into the earth from 10,000 feet.
Okay, maybe it does. Still – it’s summer, which means it’s the best time to try out all the crazy stuff you’re scared to do. Get yourself an adrenaline rush and try something crazy. Here are a few ideas:
- Skydive (my friend Jessie’s dad just did this)
- Bungee Jump
- Do an adventure race (I’m doing the Warrior Dash, the Tough Mudder, and the Spartan Race this year)
- Learn Parkour
- Go rock climbing
- If your school has outdoor rec programs, get involved in one (ISU has white water rafting, rock climbing, hiking, etc.)
- Travel. Go somewhere that scares you.
- Go mountain biking
It doesn’t have to be crazy, but get out and do something that scares you – something that gets your blood pumping. Make your life interesting. Check out Joel Runyon’s awesome blog Nerve Rush to get more ideas and inspiration.
Explore Your Campus
Unless you go to a really tiny school, there are probably parts of your campus you don’t know about. Well, it’s summer! As a student, you should want to know every nook and cranny of your school. I sure did…
During the summer after my freshman year, and few of my friends and I went on an epic quest to get a picture inside every building at Iowa State. It turned out to be harder than we thought, since some of the building were locked during the summer or flat-out inaccessible without an escort – but we still managed to get into 75 buildings, learning a lot about the school in the process. Here are a few of the pictures we took. That one above is in a building where we found a solar car.
You certainly don’t have to try and get into every building on your entire campus, but it would be fun to get out and explore some of it. Go learn some of the history behind the coolest buildings. Ask around and see if you can get into areas that most people think are totally off-limits. Meet the president of the university.
You’re a student. Get to know your school.
Do Something for Your Friends that Left
As boring as you think your school is during the summer…. your friends’ hometowns are probably even more boring. Sure, your friends might have some of their old high school buddies to hang out with – but a lot of those people are either working full-time or otherwise unavailable. Face it – unless they’re studying abroad or doing an internship in a really cool city, your friends are probably more bored than you were before reading this post.
So why not do something cool for them? Even if it’s just sending them a stupid birthday video like the one above which my friend Bill sent to one of my other friends. Hearing from you will probably be a highlight of their summer. So send them something cool from ThinkGeek. Or make them a dumb video. You’ll probably have some fun in the process.
Yowza. This got a little longer than I intended it to be. Still, I feel like you’ve got enough to go on now in order to get your summer off to an awesome start. So get started!
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