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  • Genine Babakian

Please, College Student. Do Something. Anything

Dear College Student,

The times have found you. That’s what they say to generations faced with difficult times. I know you didn’t ask for this honor.

For what it’s worth, I’m sorry you have to shoulder the burden. I wish you didn’t have to finish the semester online, far from your friends and your independence. But now that that semester is over, and you are facing the void we will hereafter refer to as the #SummerOf2020, you’ve got to suck it up.

Does that sound harsh? Good. I want it to sound harsh. Drill Sargent, tough love kind of harsh. Because if you are going to make it over that wall, you’ve got to dig deep. And do something.

And when I say do something, what I really mean is, do anything. Seriously. Get out of bed (preferably before 2pm). Make yourself some breakfast (preferably before 5pm). And fill your day with small increments of activity. Create a schedule – or at least a list, of what you want to get done that day. (Helpful tip for list-making: Write down something you’ve done already, so you can cross it off.)

What’s that? I can hear you mumbling there’s nothing to do. Hogwash, I say. There is always something to do. Here are 24 ideas to help you get started. One for every hour of the day:

1) Learn something by heart. A poem, a song, the Declaration of Independence.

2) Make something with your hands: knit a scarf, build a bench, create a rock garden. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Or pretty.

3) Read “The Diary of Anne Frank.” It might give you some needed perspective. And when you are finished with that, just read. Every day.

4) Find something broken and fix it.

5) Ride your bike. It’s been waiting for you in the garage since you got your driver’s license.

6) Run around the block. Ten times.

7) Don’t want to ride or run? Then pick your poison, but do something physical every day. Break a sweat.

8) Paint something. A room. A banister. A bookcase.

9) Learn to cook something new every week. Look through cookbooks or go online to find a recipe you want to make. Here’s a free pasta-making class:

10) Grab a sibling and play catch, or bounce a tennis ball off a wall. See how long you can dribble a basketball.

11) Tour a museum online. You may be cooped up in your room, but in a virtual sense the world is your oyster. You can start at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and end up in an Egyptian tomb.

12) Design a new board game, write a screenplay, produce a video.

13) Write a poem, flash fiction, a screenplay, a letter to a locked down relative. Write one haiku a day. It’s only 17 syllables. You can do it.

14) Learn a language. Duolingo is free, and you can even learn Vulcan, if you so choose.

15) Wash the dishes in the sink. Even the ones you didn’t use. You’d be amazed how much time washing dishes consumes.

16) Leave your phone in another room and be bored for 30 minutes. Stare out the window. Look up at the sky. Epiphanies are born in boredom.

17) Design a trivia quiz with a new theme every week. Professional sports, the French Revolution, weird mating habits. Share it with friends and family. Here’s one to get you started.

18) Have a contest to see who can find the most compelling podcast. Can’t find one you like? Then come up with your own.

19) Do something nice for somebody else. Kindness is just as contagious as the #coronavirus.

20) Streamline free, live theater! This week the National Theater in London is streaming Tennessee Williams' “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

21) Watch a silent movie, a foreign film, or something that is not typically “recommended for you” by Netflix.

22) Figure out the answer to one thing you’ve always wanted to know.

23) Find out something about a relative you never knew. Try this out on your friends, too. It’s perfect for those socially distant circles on the front lawn.

24) Register to vote by mail. Get your friends to register, too. Your country needs you.

And speaking of your country needing you: Think of your grandparents and great grandparents. Do you know what they did on their summer vacation? They went to war. That was much worse than playing Call of Duty. And need I add, as Drill Sargent Mom, that you should limit your video gaming hours? I'm not saying stop altogether, but PS4 should only be one of the items on the list. Not THE list. Ditto for binge-watching TV.

Okay, the drill is over now. I’ll try to be Compassionate Mom again. The parent who wishes your summer jobs, internships, travel plans and social opportunities had not evaporated overnight. I wish you could hang out with your friends and live the life you considered normal two months ago. But you can either rise to the challenge or sink into despair. So, please, choose the former.

Think about it. When your kids ask you about the Global Pandemic of 2020, don’t you want to have something to say? Oh, and in the meantime, you might want to keep a journal. It will have historic value some day.



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