Summer Planning Checklist: Rising College Freshmen

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Here’s What Rising College Freshmen Need to Do This Summer to Prepare For The First Semester of College

The summer before freshman year of college is exciting! You’re so close to realizing your college dreams, however, there’s still lots to be done to prepare for your first year on campus. From packing and choosing classes to spending time with friends, the months leading up to freshman move-in day can be extremely busy – and can go by in a flash.

We know how important it is to start planning early in order to be best prepared for the college experience, and that planning doesn’t stop once you have a college acceptance in hand. There’s a lot that graduating high school seniors need to do this summer in order to have a successful freshman year of college.

Here are some tips for college freshmen on what to do the summer before college.

Sign up for orientation. Most colleges will require new students to attend a summer orientation session, where incoming freshmen will get to know the campus, meet other students, and sign up for courses. As soon as it’s available, sign up for orientation. Since many freshmen students will have to take the same general education courses, you’ll want to try to get in as early as possible before those classes fill up. This is where securing an earlier orientation spot can be key. Also, many orientations have a parent portion, so make sure your parents sign up as well!

Create a packing list. Move-in day may still be a couple of months away, but there’s a lot that you’ll need to make a dorm room feel more like home. Sit down and create a list of dorm room essentials, like power strips, chargers, sheets, etc., and go through what you already have to see what you’ll need to buy. Many times, it’s wise to get smaller items like towels, sheets, and picture frames ahead of time and pack them up to take with you on move-in day. Larger items, like microwaves, mini fridges, and other furniture might be best to buy when you arrive and have a better idea of the size of the space. Also, coordinate with your roommate or suitemates to see who might be able to bring communal items, like fridges, TVs, and other commonly shared electronics or appliances. This can cut down costs and keep you from bringing duplicate items.

Get to know your roommate. Speaking of coordinating with roommates or suitemates, this is the time to get to know them better! Since you’ll be sharing close quarters, you’ll want to get to know your roommate, his or her habits, pet peeves, interests, and more. Exchange phone numbers, email addresses, and even follow each other on social media. Make an effort to speak at least once a week or so, just to get to know each other and plan for move-in day. This way, come fall semester, you’ll feel like you’re moving in with a friend rather than a stranger.

Spend time with family and friends. The summer before college is an exciting time, but it can go by fast. Make plans throughout the summer to spend quality time with family and friends. After all, it might be months before you see them again!

Continue outside reading. For some students, outside reading is always a necessary evil that they’re happy to give up once they get to college. Don’t! Outside reading is a great way to continue to develop your interests and keep your mind sharp during the summer. It’s also a way to connect with other classmates who might be reading similar material. This summer is the perfect time to pick up some books you may not have had time for during the school year.

Set a budget. For many students, freshman year of college is the first time they’ll be away from home and managing their own finances. Take some time this summer to sit down with your parents and set a budget for the school year, accounting for the cost of books, school supplies, food, clothes, entertainment, and anything else you might spend money on. If your parents are helping with an allowance, decide if it’s weekly, monthly, or per semester. If you’re paying for everything yourself, whether through savings or a part-time job, make an effort to guess your monthly income and adjust your budget accordingly. This will save you the stress of running out of money too soon during your first year.

Look for on or off-campus jobs. Part of setting a budget is knowing where your spending money is coming from. If you plan to have an on- or off-campus job during the school year, spend the summer applying for opportunities that you think will fit your schedule. The first semester of college can be a little overwhelming for some students, so make sure you have some flexibility and don’t overextend yourself. After orientation you should have a good idea of your class schedule, so work around that when deciding how many hours per week you can commit to a job, taking into account time for homework, too.

Get to know your college town. Chances are you already know a lot about your campus and college town or city through campus visits and research you did when developing your balanced college list. However, the town can look a lot different when seen through the eyes of a new student. When you’re on campus for orientation, take some time to explore the surrounding town and area again. Talk to other incoming freshmen about what they most look forward to doing outside of class. This is a great opportunity to explore some areas you may have missed before, or revisit some of your favorite spots.

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