Aug 192011
Authors: Shelby Kotecki

Summers used to be the very definition of a good time — lounging around with no essays looming above your head, no pesky tests or exams the upcoming Monday and no dealing with the petty dramas of high school.

But the summer before college, everything changes.

Sure, there still aren’t any massive English books to read or three chapters of your history book to dive into, yet at the same time, the preparation during the three months before you head off to university are some of the most emotional and pressuring times of your life.

Every incoming college freshmen spends their summer a different way; many find part-time jobs to collect some last-minute dollars for their bank account, which is probably one of the better ways to spend those sweltering weeks — who wouldn’t want an extra bit of change for college?

Some take a more sentimental approach, wanting to spend their days with the best friends that they’ve had since they were four — those friends they went through the brace-face and dorky clothing stages with.

Then, there are those who decide to blow off the whole higher education idea all together and try their hand in the real world.

Like most things in life, though, this little window of time needs to be balanced. If you work too hard, you’re going to be burned out before you even cross the threshold of your residence hall. Party too much? Good luck with staying awake long enough to pay attention to anything your professors lecture on.

Spit upon the world of university? Have fun in the long run. I mean, in all honesty, perhaps college isn’t the right decision for everyone. But if it isn’t, they at least need to have a plan and something they want to work toward. If anyone approaches something with the mindset of “I’ll figure it out eventually,” they’re setting themselves up for failure.

Which is why this June, July and August are so vital. To sum it up, it’s the end of your childhood. I don’t mean it in an apocalyptic, “we’re done for,” manner. But it’s a time that is going to force everyone entering a university in the fall to grow up, ready or not.

Your parents, or whomever you’ve relied on for the past 18 years, aren’t going to be there to hold your hand or hug you and tell you what to do.

Sure, your cell phone will be there when you get homesick; the web cam will be perched on your laptop to see the dog you’ve had for nine years and care packages will hopefully arrive once a month like clockwork. Those are only little things, reminders that yes, your family and your past are there for you when you need it.

They’ll remind you that if you do fall and can’t possibly get back up on your own, someone will be there to help you up.

But the whole point of college and going out on your own is to learn how to pick yourself back up — to maybe even ignore the hand that is offered to get you back on your feet. No, it won’t be easy. But is anything really good in life ever easy?

This summer, when you think about it, is there to prepare you — to put those old photographs up on a shelf and say “goodbye” to the old you, the one that always needed someone there.
It’s said that spring is a time of awakening and rebirth. But by the end of this summer, open your eyes. College isn’t like anything you’ve done before because this time, it’s all on you.

Shelby Kotecki is a freshman political science major. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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