College Planning

The “Going-Off-To-College” Essentials

Going off to college is, for many students, the first time you’ve lived away from home.  More often than not, you’ll probably be used to the comforts of home, where everything you could need is right at your fingertips.  That is why many are often confused as to what they actually have to bring when they start packing for college (so don’t worry, you’re not alone).

There’s a lot of considerations when it comes to what exactly you’ll be needing for the next nine months, so where do you start?  Well, while a lot universities will give you a basic checklist of what you’ll need, we put together a list of some of the things your school may include, and also some things they may not.

  • Microwave.  Most schools will allow you to have a microwave in your room.  You’ll definitely want to coordinate with your roommate beforehand to see who will bring what, but a microwave will be your best friend for those late night cram sessions.
  • Refrigerator.  Another dorm essential that you may want to coordinate on with your roommate.
  • Alarm clock.  In an article we read by Naomi Rockler-Gladen at Suite101.com, you will want to choose an alarm clock that is loud enough to wake you up.  You may also want to choose a battery-operated alarm clock, so if the power goes out in your building, you will still wake up in time for class.
  • Telephone.  Although a lot of students don’t go anywhere without their cell phone nowadays, you will still want to make sure that you have a cell phone with you when you move.  Rockler-Gladen says that you may also want to make sure that you have a plan that will fit your needs when it comes to making those daily phone calls to your friend in California.
  • Computer.  While a computer is not an absolute essential for college, it will make your life a lot simpler.  You’ll want to shop around for the computer that suits you best.  For example, if you’re trying to decide between a desktop and a laptop, you may want to consider where you want to do your studying.  Would you want to study in the library?  Would you want to bring your computer to class?  You’ll want to ask yourself questions like this to make the right decision for you.
  • Bathrobe.  If you’ll be living in a dorm with a bathroom at the end of the hallway, you will especially want to consider getting a bathrobe for those long walks back to your room.  Even if the bathroom is right next to your room, you’ll want to be sure that you won’t be giving your roommate a show.
  • Flip flops for the shower.  Trust us on this one:  you have no idea what is on that floor.
  • Shower caddy.  This makes those trips back and forth from the shower easier.  Pick a container that you can carry everything you’ll need in it, like shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc.  You may also want to choose one that is waterproof so that you can take it right in the shower with you.
  • Basic hygiene materials.  Although it seems obvious, you’d be surprised what you’ll forget.  You want to be sure to bring shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc.  Whatever you use on a regular to keep you clean you’ll want to bring with you.
  • Linens.  You may want to bring two sets of bed linens just in case one in is in the laundry.  You’ll also want to bring extra towels so that you don’t run into the same problem.
  • Cleaning materials.  Your best friend will be the disinfectant.
  • Medications and first aid.  You obviously will want to bring any medications you take on a daily basis.  But you also want to bring things like band aids, antibacterial ointment, antacids, cotton balls, etc.
  • Basic school supplies.  You’ll definitely need pens and pencils, but don’t forget things like printer paper, staplers, pencil sharpeners, and extra staples.  You may also want to get extra printer ink, in case you run out in the middle of printing out a paper the night before it’s due.
  • Good backpack.  Rockler-Gladen suggests that you get a backpack that you’ll be able to carry all your books and your essentials in.  If you’re bringing your computer to class, you may want to ensure that it will fit in your backpack.
  • Laundry materials.  You want to get laundry detergent, as well as a hamper and/or laundry basket to carry your clothes back and forth from the laundry room.
  • Rain jackets.  Trust us on this:  you’ll want a rain jacket with a hood.  You may also want to get a waterproof winter jacket if you’ll be somewhere where it snows.  We promise you when we say that you want to be prepared for all types of weather.  Remember that at most schools you’re classes will be in different buildings around campus.  That means that when it rains, you’ll have to walk through that.
  • Rain boots.  Again, you have to be prepared for everything.
  • Umbrella.  This is for the days where you could get away with just an umbrella, i.e. there isn’t wind accompanied with the rain.
  • Snow boots with treads.  Seems a little dorky, but trust us that you’ll need them.  If you’ll be in a place where it snows, you will want to make sure you don’t fall on your face walking to class.
  • Flashlight.  In case the lights go out or you lose something under your bed, you’ll want one of these handy.
  • Decor.  You’ll want to decorate your half of the room to remind you of home.  Don’t forget about those pictures that will get you through those long nights of studying.
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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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