1. Run once a day — until you hit a 5K
This has been my personal project, and it was going fantastically — until it hit 85 degrees in Virginia. But for those of you in cooler northern climates, this is a great starting project to recommend. It’s easy. All you need to try this is 20 minutes per day and — if you are as much of a novice as I am — a medium pain tolerance for those first few jogs. Furthermore, progress is easy to measure, and the feeling of achievement you get once you realize you can actually make it around your block without collapsing is unparalleled.
2. Pick five easy recipes for next semester
First and foremost, I acknowledge that the possibility of this suggestion depends on your access to groceries. After all, now may not be the time to waste ingredients on botched cooking experiments. But if you have the supplies and want to do something that will genuinely improve your living experience in college, now is the perfect time to learn to cook. You don’t have to be fantastic — just competent. Find five easy meals you can make now so that you don’t starve on weekends when the Pav is closed. You can even recreate your dining hall favorites at home — throw away the meal plan, but keep the flavors you know and love.
3. Break your TV habits and find a new show
During the school year, I tend to fall back on my favorite shows — the old reliables. This is my way of saying that, like just about everyone else on Earth, I have spent a staggering amount of time rewatching “The Office.” It makes sense — classes take up a ton of mental energy, so it becomes easier to fall back on what you already know — the Netflix equivalent of comfort food. If you’re like me right now — back home with drastically underused mental energy, but with access to your parent’s HBO account — take this advice to heart. Make TV time productive — watch something different, before you end up being able to quote “Scott’s Tots” from memory.
4. Make money — if you’re creative and talented
For those of us with typical summer jobs like lifeguarding and camp counseling, we’re in a bit of a pickle. My only source of income this summer will probably be the beach week refund I just got on Venmo. But if you’re creative and crafty, you might be able to cook something up. I have a friend who is making tie-dye clothing from her own home — and let’s just say that her best-selling color is green. While I still don’t understand how the tie-dying process works, the point is this — now is the perfect time to test out those ideas you come up with while watching Shark Tank but thought you’d never have the time to try.
5. Take a class
“This is a boring suggestion,” you say. Yes, it is, but it may also be a logical one. If online learning is something you are able to keep up with, the University is offering online courses over all three of its summer sessions. If you need the credit hours, want to get a prerequisite out of the way or simply want to keep your brain in tune over the course of the next three months, the option is there.
6. Pursue a new hobby you never had the time to try
If you aren’t necessarily at the place where you can monetize your talents, do not fret. This is a pandemic — nobody is going to judge you if you do not come out of this experience with an increased net worth. Instead, you can make it a priority to try something new — just for the sake of learning to do it. Now is the time to pick back up that hobby you had to drop when you got your first Calc II midterm back — or to try something else altogether. Paint a painting, write a screenplay, record a song or learn how to juggle. There is no pressure — just opportunity.
7. Get creative with your social life
Friends are important. Even if you are following social distancing guidelines down to the letter, there are so many ways to keep into contact nowadays. Thanks to Zoom — a sentence I never thought I would be saying — I have been a part of trivia nights, board game nights and other fun events with college pals across the nation. No matter how far apart you are, connection is still possible. Take advantage of it.
8. Create a new family tradition
Being back home and living with your family for the first time in a while seems to generate a mixed reaction from the college crowd. I, however, am all for it — even if it means being woken up by my younger sister making a racket in the hallways at 8 a.m. I recommend taking this time to start a new family tradition — now that you’re all home-bound together, start up a family board game night or take a group walk every night.
9. Try long-distance online dating at its most socially-acceptable time
According to a friend — yes, really — there are online dating websites specifically dedicated to pairing up college students during these times of COVID-19. Apparently, as he — my friend — reports, it is as easy as filling out a survey. Then, as my friend who exists claims, the website will send you the email addresses of compatible matches. There is nothing more romantic than email — making this the perfect time to meet your significant other. Again, I’d like to affirm that this tip was passed on from a friend.
10. Take some time for yourself
To steal a line from every commercial made in the past two months, this is an unprecedented time. While these are all fine suggestions, there is ultimately no playbook for this situation. Therefore, the number one priority is taking care of yourself — physically, emotionally, mentally and however else you can. Whether or not you write the next “Harry Potter” is up to you, but at the end of the day, remember that practicing self-care and taking time for yourself is always a recommended option.