College is not only a transformative and exciting time but a life-changing experience for new students.
However, ahead of spending the next few years studying and having fun with friends, there are a few things you should do before leaving for college.
Luckily, we have compiled a list to help you prepare for the next four years of your life!
A good amount of college—and the rest of your adult life, for that matter—revolves around making plans. Do yourself a favor and start planning out your college experience, from the initial acceptance to living considerations well in advance.
Planning out your whole life is unnecessary because plans change, but it’s good to brainstorm about your goals in life, education, and future careers. Ask yourself: what do you want in life? And how are you going to get it? Your first steps will help guide you through your college career.
Apply and Accept
The first step is to find your school: research campuses and their programs, professors, and locations. If you can visit a prospective school, that is a great way to get a feel for the area and the overall experience.
Make sure you apply to more than one school, just in case. Having two or three alternate schools to your favorite campus is a good idea. And once you get accepted, that’s when the real fun and excitement can begin!
Explore School Opportunities
Most campuses offer a wide variety of activities for their new and returning students. These can be a great way to connect with others, explore the area, and get comfortable with the campus. Many colleges also offer job or business fairs.
Student orientation week is an excellent opportunity for new and returning students, with discounts, offers, and freebies throughout campus. You can often find informational booths for college clubs and associations and new credit or banking options for students.
Land a Job
If you decide to work your way through college, it is a great way to keep extra finances flowing while getting your education. In the long run, your bank account will thank you! But don’t leave looking for a job until you arrive on campus—get started early, especially if you want a job on campus.
Send out applications to local businesses on or around campus, and conduct remote interviews, if possible. Landing a job nice and early will be one less worry when you arrive at school and have other things to deal with, like unpacking and figuring out your class schedule.
One of the best ways to prepare for college is to begin packing early. Even if you are not sealing up boxes of things that you want to bring months in advance, it’s a good idea to section off an area to begin compiling items for college.
Put together a box or leave a suitcase open in the corner for certain things that you’ll want in college but don’t need right now. Get a head start and get excited for this new adventure with every addition. Don’t leave your packing to the last minute!
Research College Majors
Even if you have a good idea of the field you want to work in, colleges offer various majors that can get you there. From double majors and honors to major and minor combinations, research your degree options and what will best serve your future.
Select Your Living Arrangements
College students have a wide variety of options when it comes to living arrangements. Students moving away from home have many selections to pick between, from student halls and dorm rooms to off-campus apartments and rented rooms.
However, it is crucial to establish where you will be living before you get to campus and all the details it entails. If you choose university-owned housing, do you want single or co-ed halls? Will you have a roommate?
Contacting your university’s accommodation office is an excellent way to begin, as they will have availability information for on-campus residences and maybe even private rental housing options. Attend an accommodation open day and explore your options.
Update Your Resume
Your entire college experience will undoubtedly add to your resume, but it’s important to update it before you leave. Edit your resume and remove all unnecessary or outdated information and experience, leaving room for new jobs and certifications.
Complete the Paperwork
College comes with a lot of paperwork, from applications to finances. But the sooner you get it all sorted out, the sooner you don’t have to worry about it! Getting your important paperwork completed and filed safely away early is crucial for all college students.
Apply for Funding
There are many student funding schemes offered through the school, the government, and even banks. Research which ones you are eligible for and apply, ensuring all supporting evidence is included. Funding will be a big help for college.
Don’t forget to complete FAFSA, either. It is a free application for student aid that determines your eligibility based on family and personal financial information. Even if you don’t get FAFSA, it cannot hurt to fill it out, just in case!
While considering your finances, make sure to review your budget. Take all aspects of daily college life into consideration, such as transit, food, and fun, to create a livable set of constraints for your finances, including a part-time job or parental contributions.
Get Renter’s Insurance
Setting up rental insurance for your college accommodation is crucial. For a slight fee, you can protect your personal belongings and residence from theft, disaster, and more. Insurance coverage is always a good idea, just in case!
Register for Your Classes
Don’t leave registration to a later date. When you are accepted and have a plan for your education, it’s time to sign up for classes! Keep in mind that most lectures and modules have a student limit, so register early—you can always switch classes.
Consider College Life Management
Once you arrive on campus, your new routine will likely start almost immediately. So, it’s a good idea to get some aspects of college life sorted before you get there.
Find a Doctor or Medical Practice
If you are moving to a place where you no longer have access to your previous medical practice, sign up for a new doctor as soon as you can. This is also crucial for anyone requiring regular medical assistance, such as physiotherapy or psychology.
Get Proficient at Time Management
One of the best ways to prepare for college is to increase your time management proficiency. Because students have to juggle classes, assignments, and personal obligations throughout college, knowing how to budget your time properly is crucial.
Get into a productive routine, acclimate yourself to earlier mornings, and work on your time management skills before you even get to college. This will serve you well not only in post-secondary settings but for the rest of your life, too!
Know Where You are Going
Not only when it comes to lecture halls and classrooms, learning the campus and surrounding areas is a good way to save time and prevent you from getting lost. Research the swiftest and safest routes to your destinations, both on and off-campus.
In addition, if your school is in a different state or city, find a list of local sights and activities that you can visit. Exploring the area and knowing where to go for a latte with friends or a peaceful riverside stroll is just as important as classrooms.
Set Up a Student Bank Account
Whether for loan payments or money transfers, setting up a student bank account is essential. Most banks offer special plans and bonuses to students, so take advantage of such offers when you can.
If your college is out-of-state or does not have a bank branch you are used to, don’t worry. Setting up a local bank account for your college area makes it easier to make payments and get paid!
Brush Up on Your Practical Knowledge
Once you are at college, a good deal of daily maintenance and chores become your sole responsibility. You will be surprised by how many people don’t know how to do their laundry or start the dishwasher. Counteract this by brushing up on some practical skills before you leave! Being handy in college is good for keeping your days running smoothly.
Changing a Tire
Depending on your method of transport for college, knowing how to change a tire is a vital skill to have. Don’t be late to class or an exam because of a burst tire—car and bike tires are surprisingly easy to change, and it’s a great skill to have in life!
Messes in college are inevitable. But you can tackle them easily with some base cleaning knowledge. Hone your cleaning skills—from scrubbing a bathroom to getting a stain out of carpeting. You’ll be thankful for your know-how when the time comes to deep clean your apartment or dorm when it comes time for a room inspection.
Even if you will be living in a catered residence, it’s essential to know the basics of cooking. Whether it’s for late-night snacks or your mother’s specialty that you are craving, get yourself into the kitchen before heading to college and get busy.
Knowing how to cook various basic and comforting dishes is a great skill to have, saving you money on takeout and pre-made meals alike. Learn easy but filling recipes like chili, casseroles, pasta dishes, stir fry dishes, and others!
Don’t let yourself be baffled by the laundry machines at college. Whether coin-operated or small washer units, keeping your clothes clean is important. Brush up on laundry basics—color separation, stain removal, proper detergents, and more.
Being able to keep your clothes pressed and organized is equally as important. Learn how to iron different types of fabrics, hang them properly, and keep your clothes organized. Additionally, know when to take an item into the dry cleaners for cleaning.
Prepare for Other Situations
While you can never be ready for absolutely everything, preparing for additional circumstances is a good idea. From safety measures to first aid, make sure to learn any other skills that might come in handy.
Know your school’s security measures. Most campuses have a variety of safety measures in place, including emergency phone lines and walking escort services for students who are on their own—know where and how to use these.
Especially if you are moving to a new area for school, familiarize yourself with the emergency services and people who can help during a crisis. While dialing 9-1-1 is still your best option for many situations, ensure you know where to go for help. Many colleges also have on-campus police officers and provide students with both a non-emergency and an emergency number to call for help.
Additionally, participate in fire drills in your accommodation and classrooms, and learn emergency evacuation routes. Knowing how to protect yourself during natural disasters such as floods, fires, and earthquakes can only help you in the long run!
Knowing first aid will be necessary for many areas of life, college included. Ensure that you can handle situations that require basic first aid, both for yourself and for others. This includes having a prepared medical kit and knowledge of how to use it.
Know-How to Keep Yourself Safe
Preparation is half the battle, so knowing methods to keep yourself safe is crucial in all aspects of life, especially college. Before you get to college, take self-defense classes, purchase personal security items, such as pepper spray, and be consistently aware.