For years, college has been rolling around at the back of your mind. Now, after writing admission essays and getting accepted to a school, scheduling orientation, and maybe even selecting a major, it’s becoming real. The summer before college is filled with anticipation of the years of undergraduate education to come, and you want to be well prepared for them.
Once you have the basics down, you may be feeling anxious to get started on the preparations. If this is the case, don’t worry, as there are plenty of things for you to do. From getting ready to face the financial reality of higher education to testing out a class or two, you can make sure you are ready for college in the months before it.
Learn to Manage College Finances
It’s no secret that going to college can put a strain on your finances. Student loans have become synonymous with getting a higher-level education recently, and going into that can be scary. Before you take the plunge, make sure to educate yourself about finances and look at other options before agreeing to any loans.
Accepting student loans can be as easy as clicking a button on your laptop, but the consequences can stay with you for years, or even decades. While student loans can be worth it if it gets you your education, you should take a look at other options first.
The number one thing you can do the summer before college is research and apply for scholarships and grants. Once you have applied for a few, you might have a better idea of how much money you will need in loans. To prepare, you should thoroughly go through a student finance glossary, and even consider reviewing the terms with a parent or teacher to make sure you understand them. Get in the mindset to take out as few loans as possible, and if you receive any checks from left-over loan amounts, use them to make payments on your loans.
Take a Crash Course
If you are nervous about handling college classes, it might be a good idea to enroll on an online class the summer before you start. Don’t overload yourself with a lot of work; you should try to enjoy this time as much as possible. However, taking one class can be a great way to prepare you for your future classes, get a few credits out of the way, and be assured that you are preparing for college.
Additionally, taking a college class online the summer before college can help you work on your study skills. This is extremely important, as you will have a lot of distractions in college, like your friends wanting to hang out with you, or just the temptation to lay on your couch and do nothing but watching Netflix for hours. Though you should enjoy the freedom you have, you should also work on ways to avoid too many distractions to ensure that you pass all your classes and make it to graduation in a few years.
According to Arizona State University, taking an online class will help you develop the discipline and self-motivation skills necessary to succeed as an undergraduate, such as:
? Blocking off study time in your week
? Keeping an end goal in mind
? Creating an assignment due date calendar
? Connecting with students to make a study group
If you aren’t able to take an online class, you can still work on these skills by choosing a class, ideally your most challenging one, and trying to get ahead. You can do this by buying your textbook in advance and searching for study guides or quizzes for the class online. Set goals for yourself, like reading one chapter a week. Take notes, and see how well you score on quizzes. Keeping yourself on track is great practice for your college classes.
Start to Pack Early
If you’re headed to on-campus housing or off-campus housing away from your parents, there is certainly a lot you can do to prepare for move-in day. The first step is getting a list together of everything you will need, including bathroom supplies, kitchenware, bedroom items, and maybe some new clothes. The cost of moving adds up fast, so spreading expenses over the length of the summer can alleviate some of the financial stress.
Most colleges will have a packing list, and you don’t have to buy everything before you move. Some things you can buy after you know the lay out of the residence hall you’ll be calling home,and you can even check for a tour date schedule to get an early look. This is important because some places will have their own kitchen, some will have one kitchen for the whole dormitory. Some suites will have bathroom that you only have to share with your roommates, some will have private bathrooms, and others will have bathrooms for the whole floor.
Your list of necessities will depend on these things, and you can always go back and buy more supplies after you start the semester, but it is best to get the basics in advance. Focus on buying these items throughout the summer, such as bedding, lamps, alarm clocks, white boards, notebooks, a backpack — items you are sure to need throughout the year.
By educating yourself about financial aid and working on your study skills, you will be very prepared for when the semester starts. If you are still nervous, you can ask others for help, such as a mentor, a college coach, or a friend who has already started college. Also remember to relax and enjoy your final pre-college days and remember that as long as you are dedicated, you will be prepared to succeed in college.
By Devin Morrissey: Devin is a jack of all trades from Daly City, but now roams the West Coast. He returns home to coach rugby and fix his friends' cars, but luckily he can write from anywhere.