20 College Bucket List Ideas to Do Before You Graduate

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Bucket lists have been popular for years, and even more so after the movie The Bucket List came out, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. For the uninitiated, a bucket list is a list people put together of things they want to accomplish before they die.

The phrase comes from the euphemism to “kick the bucket.” Most people don’t think to make a bucket list until they’re older, but you can make one at any age. In fact, it’s a good idea to plan out bucket list items for every stage in your life. 

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And what better time to check off tasks from your bucket list than college? It’s the first time in your life when you may be living away from your parents, and you finally have the chance to experience the world in a new way. Here are some suggestions for bucket list items geared towards college students.

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College Bucket List Ideas for First Years

Going off to college is simultaneously scary and exciting. You’re getting thrown into a situation completely out of your comfort zone, which can be intimidating. But remember that everyone else in your first-year dorm is in the same boat. That could give you the confidence to tackle bucket list items that you may have never considered before.

1. Join a club or intramural sports team

Maybe you don’t have the skills to become a walk-on football player. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try other sports. Many colleges have more casual intramural sports open to all students. They include rugby, bowling, Ultimate Frisbee, and more. Not sporty at all? Explore your musical side and join an a capella group. 

2. Run for office

If you’ve never thought you might want to go into politics, student government is a great way to start. It can be a great resume builder. It can also help you realize quickly whether you’re actually cut out for the cutthroat world of politics. 

3. Join a fraternity or sorority

Greek life can get a bad rap, but it’s not all about binge-drinking and hazing. If you’re accepted, you immediately join a community and begin to forge friendships that will last a lifetime. You’ll also be able to network with older alumni who can advise you on your future career goals. 

4. Explore varying academic interests 

Sometimes students go to college and have a preconceived notion of what they should major in. But college gives you room to explore. Most schools require you to take a certain amount of classes outside of your major. Use that as an opportunity to learn about subjects that have always interested you. Who knows. YOu may find your true calling lies in an unexpected direction.

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College Bucket List Ideas Senior Year

By the time your senior year of college rolls around, you’re probably more than ready for your real life to begin. But there are still plenty of things for you to enjoy. These bucket list ideas will remind you to savor the moment. 

5. Capitalize on your student discount

You’re graduating soon, and you’ll hopefully be taking on an adult job with commensurate pay. But that also means you may end up paying full price for things you’ve been taking for granted.

Take a little time to enjoy your student discount. Upgrade your computer with software priced for students, and treat yourself to movies or museums while you still have access to reduced entry fees.

6. Take lots of pictures 

When you’re in the tick of it, college doesn’t seem like an experience you could ever forget. But fast forward to a decade in the future. You’re steeped in your career and managing a committed relationship and possibly even children.

You’ll be lucky to remember to eat breakfast. Having photographs of your college experience will help you remember those years much more clearly. 

7. Throw dinner parties

You’ve probably had friends over for pizza and a movie. But have you invited friends over for a real sit-down dinner? As you graduate and get into the real world, you’ll be expected to host family or colleagues from time to time.

Practice on your college friends. At least if you end up burning your three-course meal, you can bribe your college friends with beer and takeout.  

8. Connect with your favorite professors 

Your instructors get a lot of credit for helping you as you flourish into adulthood. Be sure to thank the ones who had the most impact on your life.

Stop in their office hours or send them an email letting them know about your future plans and let them know how they inspired you. Teaching is a tough job, and your professors enjoy hearing good feedback. 

College Bucket List Ideas to Do With Friends

Some of the friendships you make in high school are out of necessity. You have a limited pool of people to connect with. In college, you begin to establish friendships with people based on common interests and not the fact that you were assigned to sit by each other. Here are some bucket list activities to help you bond with your new friends.

9. Go on a road trip with some friends

This may be one of the last times in your life you have the time to go on spontaneous road trips with your friends. As you get older, a job and family obligations will take up a lot of time. Take advantage of that by having getaways with your friends on long weekends and spring break.

Drive out to a beach town, or go exploring in a nearby big city. You can expand your horizons and deepen your friendship without even leaving the state. Take a look at our list of travel bucket list ideas for more adventurous activities.

10. Host holiday potluck dinners

When you get to college, you may not have the time or money to fly home for every holiday. That doesn’t mean you have to eat ramen alone in your apartment. Invite other stranded students to join you in your apartment for dinner.

Ask them to bring certain side dishes so no one is burdened with the stress and expense of cooking a huge meal. You may even find yourself establishing new holiday traditions as a result. 

11. Go on fun runs

Exercise doesn’t have to be a grim slog. There are all kinds of themed races that make exercise fun. If you and your friends are fitness buffs, a Spartan race is a down and dirty intense obstacle course. If you’re more into the fun than the run, there are all kinds of silly 5Ks out there.

You can run in your underwear, stop and drink a beer every kilometer, get chased by zombies - the possibilities are endless. 

12. Schedule weekly hang-out sessions

Even large groups of friends can make time to hang out if you pick a standing night. Have it revolve around an activity.

It could be a viewing party for a TV show, karaoke night, a book club, a board game tournament - whatever your shared interests are. Sometimes people may miss a meetup here and there, but having regular plans can help the group stay cohesive. 

Summer Bucket List Ideas for College Break

No matter how old you get, you never stop looking forward to summer break. College is the best time in your life to enjoy summer break. Odds are you have more free time than college graduates do, and more disposable income than kids have. Head on over to our selections for great summer bucket list ideas if you're looking for more inspiration.

13. Go camping

Summer camp is a pretty iconic experience for younger kids. Recapture that magic with your college friends.

Visit a state park or wildlife refuge that allows camping and get away for a few weeks. Go on hikes, swim in a lake, eat s’mores by the fire, and sleep under the stars. It’s the kind of experience you’ll always remember. 

14. Entertain your inner child

In the summertime, kids practically live in their bathing suits. Take a page out of their book and have a wet and wild summer. Have water gun fights, set up a slip and slide, throw water balloons, hit the beach, or visit a water park. The best part of summer is having fun in the sun. 

15. Go check out a baseball game

Summer and baseball is an iconic combination. If you live near a professional baseball stadium, go with some friends and enjoy an evening game when the summer heat has begun to dissipate a little. No pro teams near you? Collegiate baseball summer league games are also fun to attend. 

16. Do an internship in your field

Summer should definitely have plenty of downtime. But it’s also good to plan for your future. Most colleges have advisors that can help you find an internship in your chosen profession.

Get some valuable experience in your field before you graduate. If you can land a paid internship, you’ll even earn some extra spending money.  

Funny College Bucket List Ideas

A lot of people think that bucket list items have to be serious or a big challenge. It’s okay to have easy, silly things on your bucket list, too. Accomplishing these tasks will give you the confidence to tackle bigger items in the future. Here are some fun ways to get started on your bucket list. 

17. Be dressed up in unexpected places

Get your friends organized to wear their finest formalwear, then go out to a fast-food restaurant and have dinner.

The more elaborate the ensembles, the funnier it is. Top hats and tiaras all around. If anyone asks what the occasion was, just shrug and say it was a total coincidence you all dressed up like that. 

18. Organize a scavenger hunt

Come up with a list of odd scavenger hunt items that will take your friends to iconic spots in your college town. Arrange for the hunt to finish at your favorite bar so you can greet the winners and celebrate while you wait for everyone else to arrive. 

19. Play a harmless prank

Silly pranks that don’t hurt anyone physically or emotionally can be fun. Try this one for size. Wash out a mayonnaise jar and fill it with vanilla pudding. Sit on a park bench and eat the pudding out of the jar with label prominently displayed and see how many people give you a double-take on their way past. 

20. Live every day like it’s Halloween  

Some college professors dislike the trend of college students rolling out of bed in their pajama pants.

Show them some people still care about their appearance by showing up to class in increasingly elaborate costumes. If anyone asks you why you’re dressed in Victorian garb and face paint just reply, “It’s laundry day.” 

Check These 20 Items Off Your College Bucket List

College is a transitional time in life. In these four years, you will make the jump from child to self-sufficient adult. Make the most out of your time by making a bucket list for your college life. It will help you balance having fun with making good decisions for your future. 

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