4 ways to make the most of summer before junior year

Autumn Peele
June 29, 2020

Now that you’re done with sophomore year, the journey ahead can seem a little daunting. Time to get your college search in order is narrowing down, and the next two years are crunch time for any improvement to your class transcript and GPA. 

That’s why it’s important to make the best of this summer. Here’s a list of things I wish I’d done when I was a rising junior and choices that I’m glad I made. Don’t feel pressured to accomplish all of these by any means. Just pick what feels right for you and will make your summer as enriched as possible.

1. Get a job

I don’t want to sound preachy, but your parents are right. Money doesn’t grow on trees. Amidst the pandemic, a number of retail and food industry locations are still hiring students over the summer, making it easier to find one that’s temporary. 

Holding down a steady job will also teach you a number of lessons that you won’t receive in the classroom. Gaining a strong work ethic now is crucial and will prepare you for the years ahead as you enter college or go straight into the job market. 

Additionally, you’ll want to save up money for a host of different things. If you’re responsible for paying for your academics, such as textbooks costs, or you’re saving up for something bigger like your first car, building a safety net now will do you a lot of good in the long run. 

On top of that, having a social life in and out of high school is encouraged, but can sometimes strain your bank account. Trust me, I’ve been there. Having some funds saved up for a rainy day or chipping in for a delivery order (UberEats, DoorDash, whatever you fancy) will definitely be worth it.

2. Reconnect with your friends

It’s going to be another long two months before you can see any of your friends at school. As states begin to phase in reopening plans, it might be worthwhile to consider reconnecting with friends in your area regardless of whether you met them in class or if you’ve been together since childhood. 

After these past months of distance learning, a pick-me-up of seeing some friends six feet apart is well deserved. If meeting in person isn’t an option, there are plenty of platforms for video chatting to choose from where you can create a gathering as large as you want. 

And if that doesn’t work, the old-fashioned letter system will always be there for you. You can pick up a new hobby at the same time and get really into calligraphy and wax seals, or send some artwork that you’re really proud of. 

3. Get a college list going

If you’re planning to go straight to college out of high school, you’ll want to get a head start on organizing what you’ll need for the admission process and which colleges you’re interested in attending. Junior year is typically the year spent doing college visits, and with COVID-19, plenty of colleges have transitioned to virtual tours or scheduled appointments that abide by social distancing guidelines. 

Augustana has a pretty thorough checklist that you can use as a helpful resource to better optimize your chances at attending the college of your choice. As for standardized testing, some states are canceling those requirements for college applications.  

It’s possible that testing could go virtual after SAT and ACT tests have been canceled and postponed, respectively, this summer.

4. Have some fun

This should go without saying, but enjoy life out there. It’s been a tough couple of months, and you deserve to have a break. While you should always be responsible and have safety in mind, do something every day that makes you smile. Laughter is infectious and doing it everyday can help make this summer that much sweeter.

Autumn Peele

Autumn Peele graduated from Augustana College in May 2021. A geology major with a theatre minor, she has had a lifelong passion for paleontology. She plans to attend grad school and specialize in vertebrate paleontology. On campus, Autumn was the vice president of the Udden Geology Club and a student worker for Augustana's web services and new media department.