College Planning

Tips for Preparing for College

If you’re heading off to college in the fall, you may have already realized that this summer is going to be intense.  While it’s probably the most exciting time in your life, it’s also the saddest, the scariest, and the most stressful.  It’s the time of graduation parties and group outings sending off everyone who’s going off to college.  However, it’s also that time you realize you won’t see those same people everyday anymore, the time you’ll have to meet a whole group of new friends, the time you realize you’ll most likely be living on your own in the fall, and the time you’ll have to prepare for all of this in 3 short months.  It’s nowhere close to being easy, however, there are some things that you can do to get everything in order and reduce some of your stress.

In an article we read by Lynn Jacobs and Jeremy Hyman in U.S. News and World Report, they suggest some tips to get you prepared.

  1. Go to orientation.  Although it seems pointless to you now, it’s something that will really help get your prepared for what is to come in the fall.  While those “ice breaker” activities may be killer, you’ll learn some important things about your school, including how to get around campus, what the dorms look like, and where to go if you need help.  This is also the time that you’ll set up your course schedule.  This way, you’ll know what to expect come September.
  2. Surf the school’s website.  Surfing the school’s website is a great way to see what majors they offer (if you haven’t decided yet or you’re considering double-majoring), you can see what on-campus activities there are, you can see what the requirements for your major will be, and you’ll get a taste for what other courses are offered.
  3. Friend your roommate.  When you find out who your roommate will be, you may want to initiate contact with them via Facebook or Twitter.  That way you can get a sense of who they are, what they’re like, and maybe you’ll get a chance to decide who’s bringing the fridge and who’s bringing the microwave.
  4. Get some furnishings.  When it comes to dorm room decorating, it isn’t a bad idea to start thinking of the things that you’ll need and the things that will make your half of the room seem a little like home.  You’ll want to make sure to bring desk lamps and bedding, but you may also want to consider some picture frames or posters to personalize your space.
  5. Improve your mind.  You’ll want to catch up on your reading, before your professors start packing on the required readings.  Believe us when we say that you won’t really get a chance to read for pleasure once the semester starts.
  6. Get wired.  If you don’t already have a computer, you’ll want to start shopping for one.  This doesn’t mean you have to buy one now, but you may want to start looking to see what’s out there, what you can afford, and what you couldn’t live without.  You may also want to wait until late July or August to purchase a computer.  A lot of stores willhave back to school deals on computers.  This will shave some of the cost for you, and you may get some an added bonuses like repair coverage or a rebate for an mp3 player. If you’re considering getting a desktop computer, you may want to consider the benefits having a more portable computer that you could bring with you to the library if you want to study there, or if you want to bring your laptop to class.
  7. Make a deal with your parents.  To avoid future conflicts with your parents, talk to them about how often you’ll be coming home, and how often they should expect to hear from you while you’re at school.  You may also want to talk about who will be covering what college costs, if you will be splitting some of the costs.  It’s worth the conversation now to save everyone the grief later.
  8. Service your car.  It’s the perfect time to make sure you get your oil changed and get an inspection before you head off to school.  If you’re leaving your hometown, this may be particularly helpful so that you won’t have to find a mechanic while you’re at school.
  9. Get yourself checked up.  You’ll have to make sure you’re up on all your vaccinations anyway before you head off to school, so you can also use this time to get a check up and fill any prescriptions you need.  While your school will most likely have a health service on campus, you may prefer to talk to your own physician beforehand.
  10. Organize your finances.  You’ll want to make sure that all your bank accounts and credit cards are set up and in order before you leave.  You’ll also want to make sure that you fill out all the necessary paperwork for any loans, scholarships, or financial aid you’ll need.
  11. Organize your life.  This is the perfect time to get a calendar or planner to start figuring out your schedule will look like.  When will you start classes?  When will you have finals?  When is your winter break?
  12. Start looking for part-time jobs.  To make a little extra cash, we suggest looking for a part-time job.  A lot of universities offer student positions, so you may want to check their employment websites.  You may also want to look around the campus to see if any businesses are hiring.
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