Bucket List Ideas for Rising High School Seniors and Their Families

If you’re a parent with a student heading off to college in the 2023-2024 school year, you’ve likely got a senior-year bucket list in the works. You’re not alone.

From making the most of your time together to getting important appointments and paperwork out of the way, there’s a lot to consider.

I asked parents in the Road2College Paying for College 101 (PFC101) group what’s on their bucket list. Here’s what they had to say:1

Take a Family Trip!

If you can swing it, there’s nothing like a family vacation to make memories. Destinations for PFC101 members span the globefrom Egypt to Italy, “Chicagoland” to Disneyland. Here’s a peek at some of their plans:

Our ambitious goal was to visit all 50 states while our four children were still in school. Our oldest is a junior and we are at 39 [states]. I think we can get to 48 before college starts.
– Dwayne

Finally doing the California trip, driving down from San Francisco to San Diego via Highway 1! We had this trip planned during spring break of 2020 and have been pushing it off since then.
– Rohit

Ask Your Student What’s on Their Bucket List

Who better to design a bucket list than your student? It’s a chance to up the happiness factor (after all, they picked whatever is on the list!) and gives you a little leverage later, when the more mundane pre-college tasks elicit groans and require stellar negotiating skills.

Here’s what some of our families are doing:

We’re going on a road trip and letting him skydive.
– Alex

Our daughter always wanted to go horseback riding on Mackinac Island, so I’m taking her in two weeks.
– Jessica

We saw BTS in concert together [and] will probably go to a few more K-Pop concerts to celebrate graduation.
– Jean

Take Care of the Details Big and Small

Healthcare, legal paperwork, and other “adulting” skills are a necessary part of life. Helping your student become self-sufficient and maintain their good health now can help alleviate unneeded stress and concerns later. Some of the areas our members recommend focusing on include:

Medical Appointments and Checkups

Before they head off to school, it’s important to make sure students are feeling their bestboth physically and emotionally. Many of our families schedule the not-so-fun (but rite of passage) wisdom-teeth removal. Other health-related tasks parents are checking off their lists include:

– Christine

Teeth cleaning and wellness checkup.
– Carrie

Important Documents

It feels like a big part of preparing for college is filling out forms. From medical to legal and few more in between, here’s what some parents are working on with their students:

Getting a driver’s license.
– Nicole

Creating a medical power of attorney.
– Jana

Ordering an extra medical insurance card.
– Debbie

Renewing their passport so it’s valid for 10 years. Then we won’t have any issues with studying abroad and getting a visa. We’re getting both the passport book and card. Then, if one is misplaced, there’s an alternate form of ID.
– Betsy

Basic Life Skills

To ensure students can take care of themselves, many parents suggest using the summer before freshman year to review valuable life skills.

Here’s what PFC101 parents have in store:

Self-defense classes.
– Maria

Teaching my son how to do his laundry.
– Christine

Making sure my daughter knows how to take care of things that have always been done for her, like getting tires rotated on the car, oil changes, filling prescriptions, etc. She’s going a long way from home and needs to be self-sufficient.
– Kimberly

Make Some Money for College

College is expensive. Our families encourage your student to find work, if possible, and help make their dreams a reality:

Have him work as much as possible this summer to help with college costs.
– Jill

He’s working all summer. [He] isn’t even going on family vacation in July (his choice).
– Kristi

If you haven’t already, have the money talk with your student. It’s important they understand the true cost of college and how they’ll be paying for it post-graduation.

And don’t forget to remind them to look for and apply to scholarships over the summer – like this $1,000 monthly scholarship from College Ave Student Loans.

If you think you’ll need financial aid for your child’s college education, start researching student loan options early.

Do a Little Bit of Everything

With the goal of mixing fun with real-life responsibilities, some families are striking just the right balance.

These parents have it down. They plan to:

Celebrate graduation, recuperate in Hawaii, do legal forms, try not to cry too much, and share lots of hugs and time together!
– Anna

Hopefully take my grad to her first Broadway show! (Also [sign] legal and med forms and sign her up for a self-defense class).
– Natalie

[Take a] trip to Italy, register to vote, get [a] driver’s license, sign [the] POA, FERPA, etc.
– Chanda

TSA pre-check. COVID booster. Allergy test. Medical forms. Renew passport.
– Erin

Enjoy It All

It’s hard not to feel sentimental during the last year of high school. These parents[/standar-link] are looking forward to spending quality time with their seniors. They all agree that how they spend the time isn’t as important as spending it together.

I will listen to her go on and on about everything, and soak it in.
– Kristina

We plan to treasure the fleeting moments left of childhood.
– Barak

I plan to spend as much time as possible with my daughter who’s heading 18 hours away!
– Jacqueline

I’m giving lots of hugs.
– Greta

I plan to make memories.
– Joni

Start Planning Your Bucket List Now

As a parent who’s been through the college admissions process three times, I know the journey can feel long and overwhelming. So, I encourage you to make the most of the year before your student goes off to school.

Time flies – making a bucket list can help ensure that you get everything you hope to accomplish not only done but done together.

  1. Quotes have been edited for clarity and flow.


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