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12 Places Your Kids Should See and Things to Do Before They Go to College

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Group of friends spending time outdoors.

If you’ve got a teenager, chances are you’re getting ready for college in one way or another. And while there’s a lot to think about in terms of preparation and logistics, don’t forget that college is also a huge life experience for your child. So before they head off to campus, make sure they’ve had a chance to explore a little bit and see some of the best that life has to offer.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most important experiences your teen can have before they go to college.

Why Life Experiences Matter Before Going to College

Teens traveling by bus.

Whether your child is heading off to a big university or a small college, they’re going to be experiencing a lot of new things. From living on their own for the first time to being exposed to different ideas and cultures, college is a time of major growth and development.

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But it’s not just about the academics –– college is also a time when your child will be figuring out who they are and what they want in life. And while it’s important to encourage them to explore their options and find their own way, giving them a few life experiences before they go can help set them up for success.

There are several benefits to giving your child some life experiences before college.

1. It can help your child figure out what they want in life.

If your child has never been away from home before, college can be a big adjustment. But if they’ve had a chance to travel or live somewhere new for a while, they’ll have a better idea of what they’re looking for in a college experience.

By giving them a taste of different lifestyles and cultures, you can help them narrow down their choices and find a place that’s the right fit for them. And when they’re happy and comfortable with their surroundings, they’ll be able to focus more on their studies and less on homesickness.

2. It can help them make friends and find their tribe.

A group of diverse friends

One of the best things about college is the opportunity to meet new people from all over the world. But if your child is shy or introverted, it can be tough for them to put themselves out there.

Having some life experiences under their belt can help give them the confidence they need to meet new people. And when they’ve already got a few friends in common, it’ll be that much easier for them to find their place in the college community.

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3. It can help them learn how to handle adversity.

There’s no way to guarantee that your child will never face any challenges in college, but giving them a little life experience can help them learn how to deal with adversity.

Whether it’s dealing with homesickness, coping with stress, or managing their money, your child will have to face some tough situations at some point. But if they’ve already had some practice dealing with challenges, they’ll be better equipped to handle whatever comes their way.

What You Can Do to Help Your Child

If you want to help your child have the best possible college experience, there are a few things you can do to encourage them to get some life experience before they go.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Encourage them to travel with family or friends.
  • Sign them up for a gap year program.
  • Help them get a job or internship in a field they’re interested in.
  • Encourage them to get involved in extracurricular activities and community service projects.

No matter what you do, just remember that the goal is to help your child have a well-rounded and enjoyable college experience. So don’t put too much pressure on them –– just let them know that you’re there to support them, no matter what they decide to do.

12 Places Your Teenager Should See Before Going to College

As your teenager prepares to go off to college, you want to make sure they’ve had a chance to explore a little bit and see some of the best that life has to offer. Here are 12 places your teen should see before they head off to school:

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1. New York City

Statue of Liberty against New York cityscape.

There’s so much to see and do in New York City, and it’s the perfect place to introduce your teen to the hustle and bustle of city life. From watching a Broadway show to exploring Central Park, they’ll never be bored in the Big Apple.

When planning your itinerary, be sure to include some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, such as the Statue of Liberty. Be sure to also look for things off the beaten path, like the Museum of Modern Art or the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

And don’t forget to leave time for shopping and sampling some of the best food in the world.

2. Paris

If your teen is interested in fashion, art, or history, they’ll love spending a few days in Paris. They can explore the Louvre, see the Eiffel Tower, and stroll down the Champs-Elysées. Or, if they’re feeling adventurous, they can take a day trip to Versailles or Disneyland Paris.

And of course, no trip to Paris would be complete without trying some of the city’s famous food and wine. Bon appetite!

3. London

London is another great city for art and history lovers. They can visit the British Museum, see Big Ben, and explore Westminster Abbey. Or, if they’re looking for something a little different, they can check out Camden Market or take a ride on the London Eye.

And just like Paris, there’s no shortage of things to eat and drink in London. From fish and chips to afternoon tea, your teen will have plenty of opportunities to sample some of the local cuisines.

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4. Rome

Rome is the perfect place for teens who want to immerse themselves in a different culture. They can explore the Colosseum, the Vatican Museums, and the Trevi Fountain. Or, if they’re looking for something a little more low-key, they can take a leisurely stroll through one of the city’s many parks or enjoy a gelato by the Spanish Steps.

No matter what your teen is interested in, they’re sure to find something to love in Rome.

5. Maui

Island of Maui in Hawaii

Maui is the perfect place to unwind and relax after a busy semester of classes. With its beautiful beaches, lush tropical forests, and active volcano, Maui has something for everyone.

Your teen can spend their days hiking through Haleakala National Park, taking a surfing lesson, or exploring the town of Lahaina. And don’t forget to leave time for a sunset dinner cruise or a luau –– after all, you’re in Hawaii!

6. Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is the perfect place to introduce your teen to the great outdoors. With its geysers, hot springs, and wildlife, Yellowstone is truly a one-of-a-kind place.

Your teen can hike to the top of Mt. Washburn, go for a swim in one of the hot springs, or take a ranger-led tour of the park. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for wildlife –– you might see bison, elk, or even bears!

7. Alaska

If your teen is looking for an adventure, look no further than Alaska. With its glaciers, mountains, and wildlife, Alaska is the perfect place to explore.

Your teen can go dog sledding, whitewater rafting, or hiking in Denali National Park. Or, if they’re feeling really adventurous, they can take a cruise through the Inside Passage or go heli-skiing in Haines.

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No matter what your teen is interested in, they’re sure to find something to love in Alaska.

8. The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the most awe-inspiring places on earth. With its vast size and stunning views, the Grand Canyon is sure to take your breath away.

Your teen can hike to the bottom of the canyon, go rafting down the Colorado River, or take a mule ride to the top of the South Rim. No matter how they choose to explore it, the Grand Canyon is sure to leave them with memories that will last a lifetime.

9. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park with towering mountains and lush forest.

Yosemite is one of the most popular national parks in the country, and for good reason. With its soaring mountains, pristine forests, and beautiful waterfalls, Yosemite is truly a sight to behold.

Your teen can hike to the top of Half Dome, go for a swim in Yosemite Falls, or take a scenic drive through the park. And don’t forget to explore some of the less popular trails –– you never know what you might find!

10. The Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains are one of the best places to see fall foliage, and they’re also home to some of the best hiking in the country.

Your teen can hike to the top of Mt. LeConte, go for a swim in Deep Creek, or take a scenic drive through the park. And don’t forget to stop at one of the many overlooks –– you’ll be glad you did!

11. Washington, D.C.

If your teen is interested in history or politics, a trip to our nation’s capital is a must.

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They can tour the White House, the Capitol Building, and the Supreme Court. Or, if they’re looking for something a little different, they can visit one of the many museums or monuments.

No matter what your teen is interested in, they’re sure to find something to love in Washington, D.C

12. Chicago

Chicago is a great city for teens, with its many museums, theaters, and restaurants.

Your teen can visit the Art Institute, see a show on Broadway, or go to the top of the Willis Tower. Or, if they’re looking for something a little different, they can take a Architecture River Cruise or explore one of the many neighborhoods.

11 Things Your Teenager Should Experience Before Going to College

Experiences are the things that we will remember long after the college days are over. So, what experiences should your teenager have before going to college? Here are 11 things that we think are worth checking out:

1. Taking a road trip with friends

A group of friends in a road trip.

There is nothing quite like hitting the open road with a group of friends. It’s the perfect opportunity to bond and create memories that will last a lifetime. Plus, it’s a great way to see different parts of the country (or world) that you might not have had the chance to otherwise.

2. Going to a music festival

Music festivals are becoming more and more popular and for good reason! They’re a great way to see lots of different bands and artists all in one place, and they’re usually set in some pretty amazing locations. Whether you go to Coachella, Bonnaroo, or Lollapalooza, make sure to add this to your list of things to do before college.

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3. Getting a summer job

A summer job is a great way to earn some extra money and gain some real-world work experience. It can also be a lot of fun, especially if you find a job that’s in line with your interests. Whether you’re working as a lifeguard at the local pool or as a camp counselor, make sure to enjoy your time and make the most of the experience.

4. Going on a mission trip

Volunteers in a construction site helping rebuild a school.

A mission trip is a great way to help those in need and learn more about different cultures. It’s also a great opportunity to grow spiritually. If you’re looking for a truly rewarding experience, consider going on a mission trip before heading off to college.

There are several different types of mission trips. You can go on a short-term trip (usually lasting one to two weeks) or a long-term trip (lasting several months to a year). Mission trips are typically sponsored by churches or other religious organizations, but there are also many secular options available.

Some volunteer ideas include:

  • Habitat for Humanity
  • The Salvation Army
  • Operation Smile
  • Teach for America

5. Learning to cook

One of the best things about college is the freedom to live on your own and make your own decisions. That includes what you eat! Learning to cook is a great way to take control of your nutrition and save money on eating out. It’s also a useful skill to have in general, so it’s definitely worth learning before heading off to college.

There are plenty of resources available to help you learn how to cook, including cooking classes, online tutorials, and cookbooks. Once you know the basics, you can start experimenting with different recipes and ingredients to find what you like best.

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6. Taking a gap year

Taking a gap year is becoming more common. It’s a great way to take a break from the academic world and explore different parts of the world. If you’re considering taking a gap year, make sure to do your research and choose a program that’s right for you.

There are many different types of gap year programs, so you’re sure to find one that fits your interests and goals. Some popular options include volunteering, working, traveling, and taking classes. No matter what you choose to do, make sure it’s something that will help you grow and learn new things.

7. Going to a sporting event

Group of friends cheering in a sports event.

Whether you’re a die-hard fan or just looking for a fun experience, going to a sporting event is something everyone should do at least once. There’s nothing quite like being in the stands and cheering on your favorite team (or player). If you’re not into sports, there are also other types of events, like concerts and theater performances, that you can attend.

When choosing an event to attend, make sure to pick one that’s within your budget and interests. Also, be sure to check the schedule in advance so you can plan accordingly.

8. Make a bucket list and strike some things off

No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to make a bucket list. This is a great way to add some excitement to your life and get out of your comfort zone. It can also be a lot of fun to look back on once you’ve accomplished everything on the list.

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Some ideas for things to put on your bucket list include:

  • Visit all 50 states
  • Attend a music festival
  • Climb a mountain
  • Run a marathon
  • Swim with dolphins
  • Visit every continent
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Learn to surf
  • Ride in a hot air balloon

No matter what you choose to do, make sure it’s something that will make you happy and help you grow as a person.

9. Read a classic novel

If you haven’t read any classics for fun, now is the time! It’s one thing to read for school, but it’s another thing to choose your own book because the idea interests you!

These are the novels that have stood the test of time for a reason. They’re often incredibly well-written and offer valuable insights into the human condition. Reading a classic novel is a great way to expand your horizons and learn something new.

There are so many classics to choose from, so it can be tough to know where to start. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre DumasFrankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker

10. Spend time with family and friends

Family spending time in a camp site.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to spend time with the people you care about before heading off to college. These are the people who have been there for you through thick and thin, and they’re going to miss you when you’re gone.

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Make sure to schedule some time for quality conversation and bonding. You can go out to eat, see a movie, or just hang out at home. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something that everyone can enjoy.

11. Start Exploring Your Passions

Some people go into college knowing exactly what they want, but for others, it takes some time. Before you go to college, start exploring your passions and see what you’re interested in. This can be a great way to figure out what you want to major in or what kind of career you want to pursue.

There are many ways to explore your passions. You can read about them, take classes, or talk to people who are already working in the field. No matter what you do, make sure you’re taking the time to figure out what you want in life.

If you don’t know what you’re passionate about, start by brainstorming a list of things you’re interested in. Once you have a list, you can start doing some research and exploring each one.

Brainstorming List:

  • Art
  • Music
  • Science
  • History
  • Writing
  • Sports
  • Psychology
  • Fashion
  • Teaching

Once you know some of the fields you are interested in, start asking yourself, “If I were an X, what would I want to do for the rest of my life?”

“If I were an artist, what type of art would I want to create?” “If I were a writer, what kind of things would I want to write about?” This will help you start thinking about your passions in a more specific way.

It’s okay if you don’t know the answers to these questions right away. The point is to take your time and get yourself thinking about your future and what you want from your life.

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After you’ve explored your options and figured out what you’re interested in, you can start making a plan for your future. This can help you figure out what classes to take, what type of job you want to get, and what you want to do with your life.

No matter what you choose to do, make sure it’s something that helps you achieve your sense of purpose. College is a time to learn and grow, so don’t be afraid to explore your options and find out what you’re really passionate about.

Choosing From Your List

Now that you have your list of things you want to do and places you want to go, it’s time to start narrowing it down. This can be a tough process, but it’s important to take your time and make sure you’re choosing the right things for you.

Some things to keep in mind as you’re choosing:

Young woman thinking in front of the laptop.

Your budget

Make sure you’re realistic about what you can afford. If you need to, start saving now so you can do the things you really want to do.

Your time

Don’t try to pack too much into a short amount of time. If you’re only going to be in town for a few days, don’t try to do everything on your list. Choose a few things that are most important to you and focus on doing them.

After all, you want to savor the experience. And if you find that you really love the place, you can always make plans to go back!

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Your interests

 This is your chance to try new things, so don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. But if there’s something on your list that you’re just not interested in, it’s okay to skip it. You don’t have to do everything on the list! Just choose the things that sound most fun and exciting to you.

Your energy level

Don’t try to do too much in one day. If you’re tired, take a break. And if you’re really short on time, don’t be afraid to split up your list into multiple days. That way, you can see everything you want to without wearing yourself out.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, it’s time to start planning your trip! Make sure you’re realistic about what you can accomplish in the time you have. And don’t forget to factor in travel time, especially if you’re going to be going to multiple places.

And remember, in all your planning, to leave some time for spontaneity! You never know when you’ll stumble across something new and exciting that wasn’t on your list.

Final Thoughts

Overall, college is a time to explore and experience life in a new way. So don’t be afraid to try new things, visit new places, and find out what you’re really passionate about. With a little planning, you can make sure you have the college experience of a lifetime!

Use this list as a starting point, but don’t feel like you have to do everything on it. And if you have your own ideas of things to do and places to go, don’t be afraid to add them to the list! The important thing is that you’re taking the time to figure out what you want from your life and making a plan to get there.

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