This post: College Bucket List: 75 Ways to Embrace the Experience
Written by: Morgan Hill and Nancy Reynolds
It won’t be long now… soon enough you’ll be packing up the car and taking your son or daughter to college. As difficult as it is to let your baby go, chances are they feel pretty good about this new chapter in their lives ~ even though they probably are a little nervous.
To make sure they make the absolute most of their college experience, pass along this epic college bucket list! We’ve included 75 ways to embrace the college experience, including truly enjoying everything college has to offer but also making sure they remember why they’re there! Here’s our college bucket list with 75 suggestions and ideas to embrace their college journey.
College Bucket List: 75 Ways to Embrace the Experience
#1 Leave Your Dorm Door Open
Want to make friends quickly when you get to college? Buy a door stopper and prop open your dorm door. It’s like offering kids who pass by an open invitation to come in and say, “Hi.” (Trust me, this really works!)
#2 Have a Diverse Group of Friends
Don’t just stick to kids from your hometown, state, background or culture. Make friends with kids from all walks of life. It’s a big world out there… soak it up!
#3 Study Abroad
If you have the opportunity, expand your horizons and spend a semester (or even a year) in a foreign country. You’ll literally have the world at your fingertips, learn the language, and be exposed to an amazing new culture.
#4 Join a Club
Get into the college experience by getting involved in a club – any club! Most colleges have hundreds of options to choose from! Plus, it’s a great way to meet tons of new people.
#5 Live On Campus the First Year or Two
Having an apartment is great, but if you really want to get to know people and make friends, you can’t beat living on campus for at least the first year.
#6 Decorate Your Dorm Room The Way YOU Want
One of the coolest things about college is finally having your own pad. So, make it a reflection of you by decorating it the way you want.
#7 Get to Know Your Roommate
For the first time in your life, you’ll likely be living with a total stranger in a room not much bigger than a backyard shed. I know it sounds rather intimidating, but make the most of it by really getting to know your roommate. Even if you don’t turn out to be besties (which is perfectly okay) the least you can do is be polite and respectful of each other.
#8 Pull An All-Nighter
I’m not sure college would be… well, college, if you didn’t pull at least one all-nighter. Whether you’re out with friends living it up ’til dawn or studying your tail off, embrace the full college experience by skipping (at least) one night’s sleep.
#9 Join a Fraternity or Sorority
Sorority or fraternity life might not be everyone, but it is a great way to dive into college life and get to know a ton of people quickly.
#10 Go to a Fraternity or Sorority Party
Even if you choose not to join a fraternity or sorority, try to attend at least one sorority or frat party. Depending on the college, some frat and sorority parties are completely over the top – it’s truly an experience!
#11 Explore the Campus
Whether you’re on a small campus with 5,000 students or a large university campus with 35,000 students, college campuses have a lot to offer. Ask some of the upperclassmen, professors, or administrators which spots are must-sees on campus.
#12 Rent an Apartment with Your Friends
After living in a cramped dorm room for a year or two, branch out and rent an apartment with your new college friends. You’ll love having your own bedroom and, trust me, you’ll make lots of amazing college memories.
#13 Throw a Party
Okay… even if you’re not really a big partier, you just have to throw one party. Invite everyone you know, crank up the music and party down.
#14 Get into the School Spirit
Head on over to the college book store and buy yourself a sweatshirt, t-shirt or flag with your college logo on it. A big part of the whole college experience is showing your college spirit!
#15 Take Advantage of Your Professor’s Office Hours
Your professors are there to help you succeed. They have a wealth of information to share not only about the specific class they teach but college life and life in general. You’ll be surprised how eager they are to share their knowledge with you.
#16 Hit The College Town
Nearly every college campus (not all) has a cool nearby college town. Grab your friends on a Friday night and check it out! Grab a burger, buy a beer (if you’re legal, of course), dance the night away, and flirt a little. It’s all part of the experience.
#17 Immerse Yourself in College Sports
Even if you’re not a big sports fan, get caught up in the excitement of showing pride for your school by cheering on your team whether it’s football, basketball, lacrosse or volleyball.
#18 Say “Yes” More Often
Sure, it’s easy to crash in your dorm room and chill every night, but the only real way to make memories is to say “Yes, count me in!”
#19 Take a Fun Class
Not every college class you take has to be serious. Take a fun class like Intro to Beer & Wine or Photography or Creative Writing. You’ll be glad you did!
#20 Visit a Friend at Another College
Grab your overnight bag and venture out to a different campus to hang with a friend for the weekend. Every college campus has its own vibe and it’s really fun to see how different colleges compare to yours.
Once you declare a major, network with your professors and fellow students so you have connections in the future. You may end up calling on them later when you hit the job market. (Make sure you set up a Linkedin profile, too, and add those connections.)
#22 Invite Your Parents for Parent’s Weekend
I really can’t impress upon you enough just how much your parents miss you. They’ll love being shown around campus and getting to know some of the new friends you made in college. (Your mom will probably clean your dorm room from top to bottom – expect it! Oh… and let her!)
#23 Get a Job (On or Off Campus)
It’ll look great on your resumé, and you can gain all sorts of experience in or outside your major. Plus, you’ll earn some cash for necessities, adventures and other stuff.
#24 Land a Summer Internship
Ramp up your resume (and your knowledge) by landing a summer internship, preferably in your area of study. It’s a great way to get a feel for what daily life will be like when you start your career and help you decide if you’re truly happy with your major.
#25 Go On Dates
All work and no play isn’t much fun. So, get out, have fun, meet people and go on dates. (Lots of people meet their future spouse in college!)
#26 Attend Dorm & School Sponsored Activities
Think ice cream socials, game nights and frisbee contests, for starters. Colleges and universities have tons of activities that are fun and interesting and will give you a chance to meet tons of new people.
#27 Learn How to Be a Great Roommate
It takes a little getting used to living with someone in such close quarters. Learn the art of being a great roommate by following a few rules. Read: Getting Along with Your College Roommate: The 25 Golden Rules
#28 Write a Letter to Your Future Self
You’ll be amazed by how much you’ve learned, how much you’ve grown, and even how drastically your priorities have shifted.
#29 Go to a Career Fair
Even if you’re not close to graduating, it’s still a great idea to attend the career fairs held on campus. Who knows? You could land a cool summer internship, snag a co-op or make solid connections that will prove fruitful as an upperclassman.
#30 Get and Stay Organized with Assignments, Projects and Tests
If ever there’s a time in your life to get organized, it’s in college. Being organized and keeping track of assignments, projects and tests will keep your stress in check, help you be successful and productive, and help you save time.
#31 Have Fun But Remember Why You’re There
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the freedom of college life, parties and fun. But just remember… you’re there to learn. Never forget that.
#32 Start Building Your Resume
Keep your resume up to date with all your latest accomplishments, jobs, awards, recognition, etc. A great resume can really help you stand out from the rest.
#33 Explore Outdoor Activities
Regardless of how big the college campus is, you’ll be surprised how small it gets after a few months. Don’t stick to life on campus – get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Hike to the top of the mountain, ride your bike on some cool trails, check out the nearest city or take in some of the local “touristy” attractions.
#34 Visit with Your Academic Advisor Regularly
Your academic advisor will always have your back. He/she will make sure you’re on track to graduate, help you plan your schedule and offer great advice you might not have otherwise thought of.
#35 Decorate Your Dorm Seasonally
Carve a pumpkin, put up a tiny Christmas tree, or add hearts to your dorm door. Have a little fun and decorate your dorm room seasonally – it makes your dorm truly feel like home. (Yes…guys, too!)
#36 Join a Study Group
Joining a study group is a great way to clarify and solidify the course material you’re learning and help you build strong communication skills (and connections) with classmates – a skill you’ll use your entire lifetime.
#37 Make Cookies in the Dorm Kitchen
You know that dorm kitchen down the hall that no one seems to use? Check out a cookie sheet (or two) from the front desk and whip up a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies with your roommate on a rainy day. (Brace yourself, though. Everyone in the dorm building will be wandering into the kitchen wanting a cookie.)
#38 Ace a Final Exam
There is truly no better feeling in the world than knowing the hard work you put in paid off. It’s an empowering feeling!
#39 Attend a College Formal Dance
Get decked out in your finest, grab your favorite girl or guy and head out to the college formal dance. They’re more fun than you realize!
#40 Don’t Get Caught in a Foodie Rut
There are dozens of different foods to try on campus. Don’t get caught in a rut by eating Panda Express or Chick-fil-A every single day. It’s boooorrrriing!
#41 Find Your Tribe
College is all about connecting with people who love you exactly as you are. And, the cool thing is there are thousands of kids out there looking for friends just like you are.
#42 Listen to Your Mama
Eat healthily, drink plenty of water, exercise, and don’t live off of chips and beer. In the end, a crappy diet with too much partying will eventually catch up with you.
#43 Ask a Professor to Lunch
Got a favorite professor? Ask him or her to lunch. Your professor can prove invaluable when it comes to your career path, plus when you need a letter of recommendation, you’ll know who to call.
#44 Go Home for the Holidays
You’ll likely find that going home for the holidays brings you so much peace and comfort. There’s nothing like a hefty dose of mom’s (or dad’s) TLC to make you feel special and loved. Plus, you can reconnect with old high school friends.
#45 Get Your First Credit Card
College is a great time to start learning the financial ropes. How to create a budget and stick to it and the art of NOT overspending.
#46 Start Adulting by Learning How Not To Shrink All Your Clothes
Before you leave for college, have your mom write you out a “laundry cheat sheet,” with tips like how to separate lights from darks, how to remove certain stains, and how to avoid shrinking everything you own.
#47 Plan a Memorable Spring Break Vacation
College wouldn’t be near as fun without planning a few fun (and maybe a little crazy) spring break vacations. Whether you head to a traditional spring break beach or hop in the car and take a country-wide road trip with your friends, make the most of that week-long break!
#48 Take Your Grades Seriously and Reach Out for Help If You’re Struggling
Once you get too far behind, it can be crazy hard to catch up. (Heads up, almost everyone struggles at one point or another.)
Let’s face it, tailgating is almost as much fun (maybe more) than the sporting events themselves! Keep it low-key and pack a few snacks and drinks or go all out by throwing brats and burgers on the grill and making all your favorite dishes.
#50 Don’t Get Distracted By Social Media
Forget about watching what everyone else is doing on Instagram or Snapchat. Make your own memories! Unplug from social media (even if it’s just for a while) so you can focus on your life in college, your goals and your dreams.
Follow your passion and give back to the community. You know what they say, “It’s always better to give than receive.”
#52 Head to the Gym
The healthier you are, the better you’ll feel both mentally and physically. Plus, when you feel good (and feel good about yourself) you’ll be more optimistic, have more confidence, and have more stamina to keep up with the rigor of college life.
#53 Prioritize Your Mental Health
College can knock the wind out of anyone’s sails, regardless of how prepared they feel they might be. Make sure you put your mental health as a top priority and if you feel anxious, overwhelmed or depressed, reach out to the campus health department for help.
#54 Participate in Campus Traditions
Whether it’s attending a block party or running a themed 5k, every college has its own traditions. Join in on the fun!
#55 Show Your Younger Siblings the College Ropes
If you have younger siblings, invite them to your college for the weekend. Show them around, introduce them to your friends and help them get a sneak peek at college life.
#56 Polish Your Public Speaking Skills
Considering most people would rather be eaten by an alligator than get up and speak in front of others, getting (at least somewhat) more comfortable speaking in public is a big win both in college and in your future career.
#57 Play Beer Pong
Once you’re 21, of course.
#58 Find a Mentor
Whether it’s a professor, an upperclassman, or someone in the administrative department at the college, find someone who can guide you and offer you candid advice throughout your college years. Everyone needs someone who has their back.
#59 Ponder Your Academic Opportunities
Once you begin your sophomore year, start thinking about whether grad school is in your future. If it is, start a dialogue with your academic advisor to lay out your options and get a better feel for the steps to take.
#60 Don’t Get Too Caught Up in the Party Scene
Nothing can derail your academic efforts more than partying every night of the week. Sure, everyone wants to party a little in college, but you need to know when to say “no.”
#61 Take Tons of Pictures
Of your friends, in class, in the library, and inside the student union. You’ll want to capture these memories not only for yourself but also to share with your (possible) future spouse and children.
#62 Attend a Music Concert
A lot of colleges bring in popular artists. If yours is one of them, don’t miss out!
#63 Get a Great Backpack & Reusable Water Bottle You Love
When you’re in college, your backpack and water bottle literally become part of you. You take them everywhere! So, be sure to choose a backpack and water bottle that has all the features to make your life easier. It’ll be worth every penny.
#64 Learn How to Take Notes the Right Way
Find a note-taking system that works for you and focus on actually learning and absorbing the information as opposed to memorizing.
#65 Download Apps To Make Studying Easier
There are dozens (if not hundreds) of apps available that can make studying and avoiding distractions so much easier. Take full advantage of them.
#66 Use the Campus Resources You’re Paying For
College campuses have tons of amazing resources to help students. From helping you write a stellar resume to helping you land an internship, don’t miss out on the offerings.
#67 Find Your Favorite Study Nook
Maybe it’s your dorm room or maybe it’s the library, in the student union or in the quad chilling on a hammock. Find a place to study that’s comfortable for you.
#68 Don’t Forget Self-Care
Don’t get so caught up in your studies that you forget to take care of yourself. It’s important to feel good about yourself. After all, your happiness counts!
#69 Focus on Being Approachable
There isn’t a hierarchy of popularity in college like there is in high school. So forget trying to be popular. Just focus on being kind, authentic and approachable.
#70 Take a Speech Class (Even If You Don’t Have To)
Communication skills are among the most important attributes recruiters look for when hiring interns or employees.
#71 Invest in Good Noise-Canceling Headphones
College dorms and plenty of places on college campuses can get really loud, especially if you’re trying to focus or study. Invest in some good quality noise-canceling headphones so you can shut out the world when you need to concentrate.
#72 Take Advantage of Student Discounts
From Amazon Prime and Apple Music to Movie Theaters and Clothing Stores, there are so many discounts available to students. Don’t pay more than you have to – check out these student discounts I’ll bet you didn’t know existed.
#73 Call Your Mom (At Least Once a Week)
You may not realize it, but every time your mom walks past your empty bedroom, she has to hold back the tears. Plain and simple… your mama misses you! A LOT! So, whether it’s a quick “Hey mom, you’ll be happy to know I’m alive and I’m not flunking out,” text or a call every few days, be sure to keep in touch.
#74 Decorate Your Graduation Cap
There are so many fun ideas you can draw from. Get together with college friends and go all out with an epic graduation cap.
Celebrate the big day when it arrives! You studied hard, you fought hard and you did it! It’s a huge accomplishment – be proud of yourself! Now, go out into the world and make a difference!
About Morgan Hill:
Morgan Hill is an essayist and humorist. She has written for many online and print publications including Insider, Your Teen Magazine, Revel and MASK Magazine. She is the mother of freshman and senior sons in high school. When not writing, she can be found at flea markets, in her garden, photographing architecture, taking cooking classes or eating the stinkiest cheese she can find. You can also find her on Twitter @MorganHWrites or Instagram @MorganHillWriter
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