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Advice for New College Students From a Recent GradCambria Pilger
Once your student starts college, those lazy, unscripted days of summer become a thing of the past. And even though most of the country is still in the grip of winter, it’s time for your student to start making summer plans.
For certain coveted internships and seasonal jobs, application deadlines may already have passed — but many prospects remain, and it’s not too late to get strategic about options for a productive summer.
College summers offer opportunities for discovery and experience not available during the regular academic year. Now is the perfect time to check in with your student about summer goals and dreams!
Will your student live at home this summer? Chances are, you want them to contribute to their education expenses through paid employment. Start a discussion about what sort of job your student might wish to pursue.
As well as traditional restaurant and retail jobs, summer nanny jobs are common options, and local parks and recreation departments often hire college students for summer positions. Encourage your student to define a list of possibilities now and start creating or updating a resumé, tailored to each job prospect. Spring break is a good time to submit applications — if they’re at the front of the pack, they’ll enhance their odds of landing a position as soon as classes are out.
A summer internship offers an excellent way for your student to gain valuable career-related experience. Research shows that the most employable college graduates are those who have held a paid internship, and ideally two or three, during their college years — and their starting salaries are higher.
Depending on the field, some summer internships may already be filled by now, or screening is well under way. But others are still open for applications. A good place to start looking is the career planning and placement office at your student’s college. Various websites provide clearinghouses for opportunities, such as Internships.com, WayUp.com and youtern.com.
Has your student expressed interest in overseas study? It isn’t too late to secure a spot in many summer programs, some of which have deadlines as late as April 1st.
The options are as varied as the countries and cultures that host international students, from studying international business in Shanghai or art history in Florence to Spanish immersion in Buenos Aires and urban planning in Amsterdam. Many summer sessions include short-term options such as 4-week programs that can be combined or incorporated into other summer plans (like working).
Summer is an ideal time to get a course requirement or two out of the way, without the demands and distractions of a regular term. If students will spend the summer where their school is located, an obvious option is to register through their own college or university, but there may be other means of obtaining credits for potentially less money. If your student attends a private school, or a university out of state where you pay non-resident tuition, they might consider enrolling at a local community college or public university where you’ll pay in-state rates for a summer class.
Especially if your student has transferred, changed majors or otherwise slowed progress on a 4-year degree, summer school can offer a way to catch up.
Summer housing can be a challenge. Unless they plan to live at home or stay in their current housing, now is the time to research living situations. If your student will relocate for a summer job or internship, you may want to help them scan listings for rooms and apartments on Craigslist or through local property management services. Put the word out far and wide on social media to tap friends who may know someone with an affordable room to rent. When it comes to landing a decent place on a budget, networking is the name of the game — and the earlier your student starts, the better the odds.
Does your student live off campus with a 12-month lease? Year-round rent payments can be a frustrating aspect of off-campus living if your student won’t remain in their house or apartment for the summer. Finding a sublessor for the summer months can alleviate the financial hit.
Students should first check with their landlord to be sure subletting is allowed and what the terms are. Once those details are clarified, they should advertise the sublet immediately so there’s plenty of time for a potential sublet tenant to be vetted by the landlord (if necessary).
College move-in is approaching! Help your student prepare by making sure they have everything they need for a successful freshman year.