Whether you are taking a “gap year” or are just enjoying a few months of summer break, the time between high school and college can be transformative. It’s a time to become an adult. You can learn more about yourself, which will help you make smart decisions in college. Here are the five most important things to accomplish between these two stages in your life.

Broaden Your Horizons And Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Summer break will fly by. Spend a portion of it pushing yourself. Take a trip to someplace you’ve never been. Travel abroad if you can. Focus on learning and exploring— not partying. Try a food you’ve never tasted. Read a book in a genre you normally avoid. Go to a summer play or outdoor opera. Enjoy your break, but try new things!

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Learn “Adulting” Skills

No matter how mature you may be, there are likely several “grown-up” skills that you have yet to master. Learn how to create a budget. Schedule your day. Adopt a diet and fitness routine, since the earlier you start, the more likely it is that you will sustain a healthy lifestyle. Learn to iron a shirt. Master some simple recipes so you can cook for friends. And, learn the importance of hard work.

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Make Some Money, Even If You Think You Don’t Need To

If your college tuition and living expenses are covered, congrats, but you still should work a little to earn some pocket cash. Working for your money teaches the value of a dollar. Working may be difficult with a lot on your plate, but even if you just pick up some hours here and there or work for a two week period, you will earn some cash and some respect for hard work.

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Reach Out To New Classmates In Advance

When you have some downtime, connect with future classmates. Use social media or your school’s orientation office as a resource and reach out to others. You can then get a leg up on making new friends and ease your transition in the Fall. Your school will likely assign you a roommate well before orientation— reach out to your new friend and get the process started over the summer.

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Plan For Trips Home

Your college experience will be exciting, but make sure that your plans include occasional trips back home so you can reconnect and refresh. Discuss any potential problems, such as distance and the expense of air travel. And make clear plans with your family so everyone is on the same page regarding holidays and vacations.

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