Preparing for college
How to begin preparing for college
It wasn’t too long ago that I was in your shoes – just getting out of high school and transitioning my way into the new world of college. You’ve probably been told countless times that this is going to be “the best four years of your life.” And while I wholeheartedly agree with that statement, I have to say that in order to make it the best, you’ve got to start preparing for college sooner rather than later. So where do you start? Don’t worry; I’ve got helpful tips, advice, and information to help you get ready for the next four years.
Preparing for college: What to do
Meet the deadlines. Make sure you meet the application deadline and requirements for the colleges you’re considering. If you plan on getting government financial aid, then you’ll want to read up on my recent post about 2013-2014 FAFSA Tips and Information.
Figure out how you’re getting your stuff there. If your college is in the same state where you live, then it should be fairly easy to load up a couple cars with all your stuff and take it to your new college campus. But if your college is in another state, you may need to move your belongings another way. You could use a rental truck, but then how would you get your personal vehicle there? It’s a dilemma that lots of college students who are moving long distance face. I suggest using U-Pack’s ReloCube® moving container option. The weatherproof metal Cube can hold the contents of a studio apartment – perfect for a dorm room or off-campus apartment – and fits into a single parking space (so you don’t take up too much space when unloading). The best part is that U-Pack delivers the Cube to your new college for you, freeing you up to drive your personal vehicle on your own time. U-Pack’s Cube option is affordable, so go ahead and get a quote here to see your price.
Pack it up. One of the biggest steps in preparing for college is packing for college. You’ll definitely want to bring the essentials, like clothes/shoes, bedding, an umbrella, alarm clock, microwave and fridge, and laptop. For the ultimate list of what to bring to college, I suggest printing off U-Pack’s printable college packing checklist! Whether you’re living in the dorm or off-campus, this checklist has a list of everything you could possibly need for college, including stuff for the bedroom, bathroom, and even school supplies.
Set a budget. You can easily find yourself spending lots of money on things like going out to eat, buying items for your dorm room, and other basic necessities (like toothpaste and deodorant). Be sure to set a budget each month and watch your spending so that you won’t run out of money too fast. You can download a free college student budget template from Microsoft Office here to stay on track.
Prepare for move-in day. This day will probably be very chaotic since everyone will be trying to move in at the same time. My suggestion to prepare for college is to eat a good breakfast, get there early, and stay hydrated as you unload your personal vehicle or ReloCube. It’s also important to connect with your roommate and set up ground rules as well as decide who is bringing what. You can read more college move in day tips here.
Get ready for class. It’s easy to forget with all the excitement of moving to college that you’re going there for a purpose – to learn! To prepare for your classes, I suggest doing the following:
- Buy your books. Some students prefer to wait until their professors give them a syllabus with required books listed, while others go ahead and order their books online or at the bookstore. I always waited to know if I’d really need the book or not, then I would buy it online for typically a cheaper price at sites like chegg.com.
- Invest in a flash drive so you’ll be able to save your work and keep it with you wherever you go. If your computer decides to crash and give you the blue screen of death, you won’t have to give an excuse to your professor because you saved your work someplace else.
- Meet with your academic advisor to make sure you are on track for meeting all of your academic requirements to graduate. You can also find out if there are any holds on your account and if you’re scheduled in the right classes.
- Use websites like Rate My Professors to find out what a professor may be like before you enroll in his/her class. I also suggest talking to older students within your major to see what they think, too. One time, I read a really negative review of a professor, but then also talked with a student in my major who was two years older and she informed me that the student who wrote the review was a slacker in class, so they were probably just taking out their frustration for their bad grade by writing a negative review.
- Look at the course catalog. You’ll find course requirements as well as graduation requirements for your major. I suggest planning out which courses you want to take and when you want to take them at least one semester in advance.
Prepare for college life. Now that you’re on your own, you’ll quickly be given lots of choices about the person you want to be in college. Learn to say no to social events if you need to study, and don’t feel pressured to do anything you are not comfortable with. Being true to yourself in college is the best way to make the most out of your college experience.
Find a job. If you’re looking for a great way to earn extra money for spring break, going to see a movie, or just grabbing a cup of coffee each morning, then you might consider getting a job while in college. Part-time jobs are good for full-time college students. You can easily balance your school work, job, and social life if you manage your schedule right. To find a job in college, check with your college’s Career Center or the local city’s newspaper.
Make new friends. The best thing about moving to college is that everyone is in the same position you are – in a new place with new people. Don’t be shy; reach out and strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know. Even if you don’t hit it off, at least you are putting yourself out there and trying to get to know people. The best way to meet new people and to make new friends is to get involved on campus. Join organizations or clubs that fit your interests. It’s likely that you’ll meet new friends this way.
Learn to say goodbye. While it can be really exciting to go to college, it can also be very difficult to say goodbye to all the familiarity of home. As soon as you say goodbye to mom and dad, have something to do, whether that be meeting up with a friend, taking a walk around campus, or simply listening to music. It’s okay if you feel homesick; just take out those mementos that you packed or give your family a call – I bet they’d love to hear all about your experiences and give you the encouragement you need to be on your own.
Join the gym. It’s not called the “Freshman 15” for nothing. Your college’s fitness center is an excellent place to stay in shape and make sure that you don’t gain weight during college. The fitness center should have classes for every fitness level, so don’t be afraid to join up even if you’re not the next Jillian Michaels.
Have an open mind. You’re going to meet all types of people when you move to college. It’s best to have an open mind and open heart, especially to those who might not have your same core values, beliefs, or lifestyle.
Preparing for college – Your tips and advice
Do you have any tips or advice for students preparing for college? I’d love to hear them, so please leave a comment below with your tip!
If you have questions about how to move to college with U-Pack, you can call 800-413-4799 to talk with a moving expert or comment below with your question.