8 Ways Your Summers Changed When You Went Off to College


Sleepaway camp; waterparks; book reports. Chances are that was the staple of your summer for at least a decade. Now, summer vacation conjures up a completely new meaning. Regardless of how you're spending your days in the sun, you've probably realized that they're different from the way they used to be.

1. Reading is cool now

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when "reading" likely meant zipping through SparkNotes to prepare for the first day of lit class. Now you're reading every bestseller you can get your hands on before your time is sucked away by courses and clubs at school. The popularization of the Kindle has certainly helped, and you can bet that before your summer is through you'll find yourself with a good book or magazine in hand.

2. Your hometown suddenly isn't so boring

You never know what you've got 'til it's gone. Or at least ensconced in the back of your brain for nine months while you focus on grades, hookups, and keg stands. Now that you're back from college, you probably realize that your hometown isn't nearly as bad as you made it out to be in high school. The local restaurants prove to be better than dining halls, and running into the people you swore you'd never see again after graduation now seems oddly nostalgic. The occasional dose of suburban peace and quiet never hurt anyone.

3. HBO and Netflix dominate your free time

The Wire really came out after you finished freshman year. Neglected throughout high school, HBO suddenly resonates once you're in college, and all the free time on your hands this summer translates to catching up on episodes of Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire and the other critically-acclaimed series that flew over your head when you were watching reality TV at 16. You're all but guaranteed to spend hours culling through Netflix, picking out the shows and movies that the kid in your dorm wouldn't stop talking about. 

4. You might not have any free time at all

No. 3 is largely contingent on you not having a job, internship, or summer courseload. Summer was once synonymous with "no work," but now, that's sadly not the case. College kids around the country will spend their break from school in the tedium of cubicles or even lecture halls. That's not to say working over the summer can't be a good time, it simply means that the three hours of sunbathing you once banked on are no longer around.

5. House parties aren't a big deal anymore

It's been a minute since you've blurred out the beer cans in your Facebook pictures. It's probably been even longer since you drunkenly tiptoed past your sister's room when you returned from a night out. Let's face it: after a bleary slew of Greek letters and dozens of pregames, hometown house parties aren't too much fun. Snooping around parents and toasting to no more third period calc class was once all the rage, but now, you may very well be burned out from high school parties.

6. You fail to accomplish most of what you wanted to do

Meet up with that friend who's in the city. Get in shape. Make it to the big music festival in your area. Looking back on your summer, there's a good chance you didn't do any of this. With free time comes the inevitable desire to switch things up or learn something new, but most of these lofty goals are tough to knock off in two or three months. Back in the day, your summer was an ossified to-do list of relaxing, hanging out with friends and eventually getting your books for school.

7. You can't wait to go back to school

The sheer thought is absolute madness in summers past. Now, you love school and are counting the days until you're back on campus. Coming home for a brief respite is nice, but chances are you're pretty pumped to return.

8. You want to hang out with your parents

Before college, you probably wanted to get away from them for the summer. Now that you only have a few months in town, you can't wait to spend time with your parents. Brunch with mom or a ballgame with dad is a fantastic alternative to lectures and finals.