By Kelsey Mulvey
Your college debut is so close, you can almost taste the dining hall food. After a year of senioritis and Common App-induced stress, you’re finally on your way to the big, bad world of your alma mater . But before you ditch your pre-collegiette title for good, there are a couple things you need to do to prepare. Though your summer can be fun and carefree, you can’t get ready for college in a week! Thankfully, we’re here to give you a month-by-month guide to prepping for freshman year so you won't be cramming in August. What would you do without us?
Purchase Some College Swag
Now that you’ve officially made your decision, when could be a better time to purchase some college apparel? Nothing says school spirit more than a t-shirt, sweatshirt, sweatpants, baseball hat, car decal, and anything else you can get your hands on! Not only does purchasing your college goodies now satisfy your sudden burst of school pride, you’ll also be beating the crowds come fall!
Join Your Class’s Facebook Page
After you purchased the quintessential college sweatshirt, it’s time to immerse yourself in the college community. One of your future classmates was so eager, he or she probably created a “Class of 2017” Facebook group by now. Show off your enthusiasm by joining the group. After all, aren’t you the least bit curious to see who else is going to your school? Feeling extra bold? Post your name, hometown, and major on the page. You never know, maybe a cute guy (who’s also an Art History major) will like your post. Don’t forget to take a look at our Facebook guidelines before sending that request to Mr. Art History!
Create a Budget
Even though you might have secretly memorized your parents’ credit card numbers, it’s time to start using your own money. For a lot of you, this will be your first time managing your own money. Sounds miserable, right? From the stressed-induced online shopping sprees to the necessary purchases at your convenience store, everything adds up! To avoid traumatic bank statements, establish a money plan before all the spending madness begins! So how do you do it? Let’s start with the bank account. If you don’t have one, head over to your bank and set one up ASAP. Most banks even have college-friendly plans – how thoughtful! Look at your account, factor in the money you’ll make from your summer job and the ever-so-helpful graduation gifts, and think about how much money you want to have at the end of the semester. Whether you give yourself a monthly budget or decide to pick up a part-time job at school, you’ll feel a little bit better about buying that sequined tanktop! Take this money plan a step further by logging everything you spend and earn. By the time you head off to college, you’ll be extra mindful about your money.
Adopt Healthy Habits
It’s okay to be afraid of the "Freshman 15" – nobody wants to be a victim! Instead of succumbing to the world of too many voyages to your local pizzeria and too few trips to the gym, adopt healthy habits before you even step on campus. Some changes are as easy as drinking water instead of soda or walking your dog for an extra ten minutes. As you adopt a healthy lifestyle, you might start to think twice about ordering pizza for the third night in a row.
Sign Up for a Pre-Orientation Program
Though every school is different, most of them have pre-orientation programs. Um, translation? Students who sign up for a pre-orientation program move in a couple days early and partake in some new student bonding activities, like hiking or community service. Seize this opportunity! It’s a great way to meet new people and some regret not signing up for one. "I didn’t go on one and felt kind of left out that some kids were already friends and I knew no one," says Nicole Echeverria, a freshman at Wake Forest University. What if all the pre-orientation groups are full? Remain calm! We promise you there are other ways to make friends in college; however, pre-orientation programs just give you a head start! In lieu of pre-orientation, some schools have orientation programs during the summer, so don’t forget to sign up for those (if you haven’t already)!
Meet Your Roommate
Whether you picked each other or it’s completely random, you should know who your roommate is by now. After you have yourself a nice Facebook stalk, analyze her Twitter feed, and run a casual Google search, message your new roomie and start planning who will bring what to school. Between figuring out who’ll buy the microwave and coordinating bedspreads, get to know your future roomie by asking her about her family, major, and hobbies. If you live close enough to your future roomie, suggest grabbing a cup of coffee before the year starts!
Start Shopping for Your Dorm
Be honest: you’ve been flipping through PBteen and mentally decorating your dorm room since you were sixteen. Now it’s time to turn your interior design dreams into a reality. But why now? Doesn’t it seem a little too early to start shopping for your dorm? Not necessarily! "Don’t wait until August to buy your dorm stuff," says Laura Baugh, a junior and HC Campus Correspondent at Virginia Tech. "All the good things will be picked over!" Also, you might forget something as simple as a laundry hamper if you wait until the last minute. If you start the search now, you’ll have tons of time to find the perfect pieces for your dream dorm. Since you’ve already started to talk to your roomie about decorations, you'll know if you're planning on a specific theme or color scheme. So what exactly should you buy? Though everyone's shopping lists are different, we’ve taken the liberty of starting your shopping list:
- Mattress pad
- Quilt or duvet cover
- Desk lamp
- Handheld vacuum
- Drawer organizer
- Extension chord
- Cereal bowls
- Storage Containers
- Pictures of your friends and family
- Shower caddy
- Alarm clock
- Garbage can
- Laundry hamper
With a variety of stores to visit (Urban Outfitters, the Container Store, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target… you get the picture, right?), it’s important to remember that decorating a dorm is a marathon, not a sprint
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Your College Major
Most college freshmen don't know their major going into college -- and if they do, they frequently end up changing it after a semester or a year. The whole point of college is exploration: Take your time and try out different subjects until you find one that sticks.
What You're Looking For In A Relationship
It can take a lot of relationship experience to figure out what you're really looking for in a partner. And by no means is that something you need to fugure out in high school or even college. Spending times with different types of people, and having both good and bad experiences with them, will make your needs and desires clear in time.
Spending WAY Too Much Time On Tumblr
OK, so scrolling through Tumblr until 3 a.m. when you have an exam the next morning is probably not the best idea, but don't feel bad about spending a seemingly inordinate amount of time on your favorite social network. Twitter and Tumblr can be a great way to connect with others and figure out your own interests and aesthetics.
Defining Your Personal Style
Your style will likely change drastically as you get older and experiment with different looks -- don't worry about figuring out whether to label your style as "glam" or "boho." Just look at Taylor Swift, who has changed her signature style with each album. Have fun exploring and gradually figuring out what looks you feel the most, well, <em>you</em>.
Having A Perfect Resume
In high school and college, there's a lot of pressure to succeed in your academics, extra-curriculars and internships. But if you participate in activities and go after awards solely for the sake of your resume -- not out of real interest -- colleges and employers will probably be able to tell. Do things because they're what you love!
Being A Super-Fan
So what if you worship your favorite star? Now is the time in your life to declare your unfailing, til-death-to-us-part devotion to that special singer or actor you love. Don't let the haters make you feel embarrassed about that "one thing" you can't get enough of -- whether it's the Biebs or the 1D boys. You have the whole rest of your life to play it cool.
Finding The Right Group Of Friends
Finding good friends in high school is important, but don't stress about it too much if you have never found the perfect group of friends. As you move into college and the real world, where you're interacting with a larger and more diverse demographic, you'll find those people you <em>really </em>want to spend your time with.
Being Able To Cook A Gourmet Meal
Even if cooking isn't your thing, it's still worth learning how to make a meal that doesn't come out of a can or box. But don't stress about being able to prepare meals worthy of a five-star restaurant -- simple, basic recipes can still be healthy, delicious, and impressive to dinner party guests.
Finding 'The One'
Think your high school sweetheart is the real deal? Finding love when you're young is an incredible experience, but don't worry too much about finding your "forever." You have years ahead of you to find yourself before you find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.
Still Going To Your Parents For Help
If you're 12, 18, or even 30 years old, it's okay to lean on your parents for help or support whenever you need it. Growing up means learning to do things on your own, yes, but it doesn't mean that you have to do it all alone. Learn to lean on the people who will always be there for you.
Understanding Your Sexuality
Sexuality and attraction can take many different forms, and it's something you can spend your entire life exploring. Questioning your sexual orientation can be a challenging process, but try to remember that it's okay if you're still figuring it all out.
Defining Your Political Beliefs
Not sure if you lean liberal or conservative, or what exactly all the differences are between the Democrats and the GOP? Don't sweat it. While it's important to stay informed about current events and issues in our country, figuring out what side you're on isn't so important. It's the issues, not the parties, that really matter.
Getting A Credit Card
Unless you HAVE to, just don't. Credit cards are dangerous because they can feel like free money -- a track that many debt-laden college students have fallen into. Stick to cash and a debit card until you determine that you're ready to build good credit and have the resources to pay off your bill every month.
Acting Like A Little Kid Sometimes
In your rush to leave childhood in the dust, don't worry about acting like a kid sometimes -- you know, taking time to just <em>play</em>. Make a 10-minute stop at the swingset on your walk home, let yourself doodle during class, and enjoy an ice cream cone (with rainbow sprinkles) when you're having a bad day and need a pick-me-up.
When your friends are all in relationships and every teen magazine is giving you tips on how to "Get a boyfriend now!" it's hard not to feel inadequate about being single. Whether you're a serial dater or you've never been in a real relationship, learning how to embrace being on your own is a skill that will make you stronger -- and happier -- for the rest of your life.
Following A 'Life Timeline'
For the more type-A among us, it's almost instinctive to try to chart out your life: Make the varsity team by sophomore year, get a boyfriend or girlfriend by senior year, travel abroad by 18, get a job right out of college. It's important to have goals, but let's be honest -- life doesn't really work that way. Save yourself a lot of frustration by being flexible about when you accomplish things and not getting too upset when life don't go exactly according to plan.
This goes for individuals of all ages, but the pressure to be perfect can be especially challenging as a teenager. Time spent worrying about being a straight-A student, having a flawless figure or living the perfect life is time wasted. Embrace your flaws.
Knowing If/When You Want To Get Married Or Have Kids
Whether you think you may want to start a family right after you graduate or the mere idea of marriage sends you into a tailspin, knowing if and when you want to settle down isn't something to waste your energy worrying about. Chances are, you'll change your mind a handful of times during your teens, 20s and 30s before you figure it out -- and that's totally OK.
Knowing What You Want To Do For The Rest Of Your Life
When you're feeling pressured to figure out where you're going to college, what your major will be, and in turn, what you want in your career, it's easy to stress out over your entire life plan. But the truth of the matter is that interests evolve and that most people change their careers many times of their course of their lives. If you haven't found your passion, experiment with things that sound fun to you until something clicks -- and trust that, eventually, it will.
Knowing Who You Are
We've heard time and again that change is life's only constant -- and it's true. Especially when you're a teenager, you're still changing and figuring out who you are, a process that will continue for most if not all of your life. Instead of feeling pressured to define yourself based on your musical taste or relationships, enjoy the lifelong process of discovering -- and creating -- yourself.