The summer after high school graduation truly is a magical time; you're stuffed to the brim with grad-party food, your responsibilities have all but blown away with the end of high school, and you're looking forward to a huge life change. These three months can be daunting as you look to the future of uncertainty, but there are things you can do to prepare for the next step in your life.
I repeat: relax! You've worked hard for most of your life, and likely for the first time, you now have little to no responsibilities. Take these months to enjoy your freedom and celebrate your accomplishments thus far. Read the books you never had time to read because your head was always in a textbook. Binge-watch the shows you've been hearing about. Do the things that feed your soul.
2. Tie Up Loose Ends
Thank your teachers, coaches, and mentors. Send off thank you notes to those who contributed at your graduation party. Update your medical and financial information to your new address. Go to the dentist, get your physical, secure your prescriptions, et cetera. Figure out a budget with your parents or guardians that works for all of you. Starting a new chapter means closing the last one.
3. Pack Light
Packing for college is possibly the most stressful component of moving away. The biggest mistake freshmen make is OVERPACKING. Never underestimate how small dorm rooms are, and keep in mind that dorm closets are often comparable to shoe boxes. Pack what you think you're going to need, and then bring half that. Coordinate with your roommate to determine who's bringing the shared items like the futon and microwave. Only bring seasonal clothes, unless you won't be home before winter starts to replenish your warm-weather wardrobe. Most importantly, DO NOT PACK ANY T-SHIRTS. You'll get fifteen free t-shirts within your first month of college. Leave these at home and thank yourself later.
4. Focus on Friendships
This time of life can be very freeing in the sense that the people you now associate with are entirely your choice. Are there any relationships in your life that aren't healthy, but you've held on to them for convenience? If so, now is the time to let these fade away to make room for the many healthy, happy friendships you'll make in college.
Also, there is a good chance you and your friends are going to different schools or pursuing different paths. Going from seeing each other every day to significantly less frequently can (and will) cause strain, so it is important to reflect on the friendships you want to hold close, and hold them closely! Allow your friendships to evolve, of course, but don't get swept away in your new life and forget about the people that brought you this far. You'll regret it.
5. Get Ahead
Go to the first possible summer orientation if it is offered, and sign up for classes as early as you can! You'll have a better chance of getting into the courses you need (and want), and you'll take that stress away while you still have the motivation from senior year. Research the textbooks you'll need and shop online; most used textbooks can be found for significantly cheaper than at your college bookstore.
Be kind to yourself, be proud of yourself, and prepare yourself for the truly incredible years ahead.