Here are a few things you can do to make sure you're ready for college.
1. Carefully read everything that is sent to you by your college. Be sure to watch for:
+ Any forms regarding special academic programs or activities to sign up for, roommate preferences, housing, medical or insurance issues. Complete and return the forms ASAP. The earlier your college gets the materials, the better the chances are for your getting what you want -- a roommate that's a good match, a special seminar, your choice of dorms, the right meal plan.
+ When Freshman Orientation begins. Sign up as soon as the information arrives to make sure that you get what you want. The best events often fill up the first day they are announced.
+ Pre-Orientations. Sign up early and go. These are wonderful opportunities to meet other freshmen. Some of the cool experiences offered include river-rafting trips, retreats in the mountains or at the ocean, special seminars with star faculty members, and unique community service projects. Take advantage!
+ Anything that comes to you about registering for classes. Pay close attention to the directions. Especially your first semester, you don't want to get stuck with a bunch of courses you don't like.
+ When tuition and room/board are due. Put the date on your and your parents' calendars to make sure that everything gets paid on time.
2. Sometime during the summer, contact the Financial Aid Office at your college to confirm exactly what scholarships, work/study and other financial aid you will be getting. Once you know what it is, sit down with your parents to discuss what they are contributing and what you will be responsible for. Also talk with your parents about what your college budget is so that you know how much money you will have to spend on trips home, movies, concerts, books, haircuts, meals outside the dorm and other unexpected things that come up.
3. Get a hold of your roommate right away when you receive his or her name and contact information. Colleges usually have Freshman Facebook pages that make communicating very easy. Do it! After you get acquainted, you can decide who is going to bring what for the room so you don't have duplicates. Remember, dorm rooms are usually smaller than your bedroom at home and will accommodate only one small TV, and/or microwave (if allowed), and/or small refrigerator (if allowed), and/or coffee pot and/or area rug.
4. Find out what the computer/Internet facilities are at your college.
Virtually every college is fully "wired" and broadly wireless. Certain colleges even provide computers for students, some MACs and some Windows. Find out so you can plan for that.
5. Develop a list of your Internet passwords and PINs, credit card numbers, social security number, and serial numbers for your computer and printer. Leave this list at home in a safe place so if you need them, your parents can get it for you.
6. Find out when you need to arrive at college for orientation, sorority and fraternity rush (if you're going to participate), or the beginning of school. Work back from that date to see when your travel arrangements should be, whether you are driving, flying or taking a train or bus. Find out if one or both of your parents can accompany you for this big occasion.
+ Make travel and hotel/motel reservations as early in the summer as you can, if you or your parents need to spend a night or two in town or near campus before you move in.
7. Depending on what form of transportation you use to get to your college, you need to determine how you are going to get all of your "stuff" to where you're going to live. Check to see if the college has a special arrangement with UPS, FEDEX, the US Postal Service, Amtrak Shipping or another delivery service. If not, call these groups to find out what the least expensive way is for you to send packages to school and when you need to send them so that they don't arrive too early or too late.
8. For a list of what to take with you to college, go to my admissions blog for "The Most Ridiculously Thorough, Detailed College Shopping List You'll Ever See."
9. Check out the New Student section of your college's website. It will tell you exactly what to do, where and by when.
10. Make sure you have great summer so that you are relaxed and ready to begin your exciting, new life.
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