This post was written by Sophia Richards, a senior at Mission Vista High School who will be attending Barnard College in the fall. It was originally published on The Prospect, a college admissions and high school/college lifestyles website. You can follow The Prospect on Facebook or Twitter.
Congrats, you've gotten into college! While you're sitting there eating cupcakes and online shopping for spirited pajama bottoms, it occurs to you: you've just committed to four years, and there's so much to do.
No matter how fanatic your emotional commitment, you need to put your (deposit) money where your mouth is. Thus, I present to you a comprehensive, digestible and loosely chronological checklist covering (most) of what you have to do before packing your bags for college.
Your college will most likely have given you some sort of student number with your application that can be used to create an ID and password permitting access to your student portal, through which you perform most of the tasks in this list.
2. Talk Financial Aid
Review the documents yourself, and then have one final conversation with your parents about exactly what the plan is in terms of financing your education, especially concerning what your personal responsibilities will be. Compose and submit an appeal to increase aid if timely and necessary.
3. Accept/Deny Offers of Admission
The exact process varies per school; some supply tangible forms to mail, while others have a specific location in their portal. Poke around the website to find it, and if that doesn't work, just google "accept/deny admission ______ college/university" and it's sure to come up. Let everyone know where you've ended up!
4. Pay Your Deposit
Usually ranging from $100-$400, this serves as financial confirmation of your commitment to a school.
5. Apply for Housing
You'll find this on your admitted students portal. Do some research about the coolest places to live, talk to current students about your options and submit your app as soon as possible to get the best spots! (Most freshman housing is first-come-first-serve.)
6. Find a Roommate
Pros about choosing your own roommate: you know them and feel like you'll be good together. Cons about choosing a roommate: it's reeeeally awkward if you're not. If you decide to look for one, most students scribble a little "about me" to post in their college's Facebook group, or, if they're lucky enough, a page specifically dedicated to the roommate search. Others turn to websites like Room Surf, ULoop or Roommate Connect.
7. Fall in Love with Your New School!
You're about to spend four years there, after all! Now's the time to spend hours on their site, college prowler, student blogs...memorizing the quirky traditions, fight songs and names of famous alumni. Start dreaming up your dorm, finding places to eat downtown, potential places of worship or recreation...You earned it!
8. Buy Stuff
You need a sweatshirt and at least eight t shirts and bedding and stationary and mugs and stuffed animals and license plate frames and pajamas and printed socks. So does your entire extended family.
9. Apply for Honors Programs, Scholarships, The Works
Now that you're officially admitted, you're eligible to apply for special programs (almost always an honors program), and scholarships for enrolled students. Check them out! A lot of other freshman aren't aware of the benefits of their new status so you'll have first choice and better chances.
10. Research Orientation Programs
Most schools offer a variety of orientation programs to help freshman acclimate to their new home. Take a look at the options provided by your university, and start on your applications for programs that require them.
11. Meet People
Admitted students weekends! Facebook pages! Friends of friends! Start threads, comb through the tumblr tags, start up late-night FB message-sessions. Even start up an admitted students event in your area! Ignore everything they told you about talking to strangers, give thanks for the digital age, and arrive on campus with a family already waiting.
12. Send Transcripts/Scores
As a general rule, don't get two or more C's, or any D's/F's. Don't embarrass yourself on your AP tests, earn your IB diploma and graduate with the perfect balance of pride and crushing apathy.
13. Apply for Student ID/Parking
You need your ID to do pretty much anything on campus. You need a parking pass to park on campus. Do both before setting foot on campus.
14. Submit Health Record
No, I don't have Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome.
15. Take Placement Tests
Most schools administer mandatory freshman placement tests that vary based on intended major. (Typically college-level writing, math diagnostic, foreign language, etc.) Check the site for info, take the tests and submit your scores on time.
16. Complete Safety Courses
Students are required to complete an alcohol education and prevention course before they begin their first year. This can be found on the school's website.
17. Enroll in Classes
Sit down with a course catalogue, a free afternoon, and full lists of graduation requirements for both your major and your college as a whole. Research a bit first, both online and by talking to current students/academic advisors, be patient and take risks.
Have a relaxing and joyful summer before your next big adventure!
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