As you start making college plans, adapting to a new environment, meeting new people, being independent, and having more responsibilities are some of the things you need to think about. And as such, you may feel a rush of emotions running through your mind. And when those nerves come into play, it's only natural to feel anxious yet excited about what’s about to come.
Whether you're planning to go to college in your hometown or across the country, there are a few things that all freshmen should consider doing before heading off to college. To start, here are some of the items to include in your checklist:
1) Have Your Finances In Order
Generally, knowing how much money you will need to cover the cost of your education is one of the essential initial steps. It is crucial to figure out how much financial aid you can expect to receive, as well as what expenses will not be covered by loans or other forms of financial help.
For instance, if you're looking for ways to save money on your education, applying for scholarships can be a great option. Scholarships can be awarded through your college or university or directly through the organization offering them. Some of these may even offer programs exclusively for summer students who want to take a class during their break from high school.
Once you know what money is coming in, it's time for some self-discipline. You’ll need to keep track of all your spending, and it would be best if you could create a budget to maximize and manage your finances better.
2) Prepare Yourself Mentally
One of the first things you have to do is prepare yourself mentally. This means being mentally ready to face the good times, the bad times, and even times when you will possibly be alone. While college is generally a time in your life when you can explore your individuality, passions, and interests and know who you are, it can also be a stressful journey, especially with the challenges that you may face.
In addition, it can be hard being away from home, making new friends, and being independent for the first time in your life. Not to mention the pressure that comes along with studying and getting your degree. For instance, you may have to study hard and perform well academically to get accepted into graduate school programs or even employment opportunities outside of college once graduation arrives.
3) Arrange Your Accommodation
You're going to need a place to stay while you're at university, and so before the semester starts, you should sort your accommodation. Generally, you have several housing options, such as shared houses, dormitories, halls of residence, or even renting a room from a local family. If you're worried about the cost of accommodation, don't panic just yet. Some universities offer financial support programs for students. And so, check the requirements and apply for this by putting in an application form.
When choosing where to live, note that there are several things you should consider.
Location is one, as you don't want to be miles away from campus. You’d also want a place close to commercial and food establishments, so, should you need supplies, it’ll be convenient for you. You may also want to think about how many people will be living there with you and what facilities are available. As much as possible, you want a conducive place to rest after a long day of studying.
Furthermore, you might also want to look up your accommodation options in terms of the best women’s or men’s housing. Generally, a great facility will have the right security features and other essential amenities to make your everyday life easier. For instance, if you’re a woman wanting to study at a college in Idaho, consider looking up the best women’s student housing in Rexburg.
4) Start Buying Supplies And Essentials
Getting your supplies ready is also another task that should be on your college checklist. You'll want to gather all the essential supplies you need before moving out. This could include basic items such as toiletries, clothes, and linens. You can also buy a new backpack, suitcase, a laptop or tablet.
Depending on the facilities or amenities provided by your housing facility, you can also opt to buy a microwave or mini-ref to aid you in your daily life at university. Furthermore, you can cross-check what supplies, furniture, or appliances your chosen place is offering to avoid duplicate purchases.
5) Get A Physical Health Assessment
Consider getting a health check and assessment, which includes having your blood pressure checked and other necessary tests all up to date before you start college. Ideally, it would be best to start this new chapter of your life with good health and well-being. This is especially the case if you have current health concerns and conditions that require regular medication and checkups. Your doctor can give you clearance and may prescribe do’s and don’ts that will help you better manage your health while in college.
In addition, during your trip to your physician, you can also consider getting the necessary vaccines to help boost your health. For instance, you can get shots like the meningitis vaccine and MMR vaccination, as they can help protect you against common diseases. More so, if you’re traveling abroad during term-time, you could opt to receive a yellow fever vaccination. But note that it is always best to consult your local physician for more information and their medical advice.
6) Learn Basic House Chores
One of the things that college experience will teach you is how to be independent. Essentially, once you head off to college, you’ll be on your own. And this means that you’ll have to take care of yourself, which includes basic things such as food preparation, laundry, and keeping your place tidy.
If you don't know how to cook, this could be an opportunity to learn. You don’t need to be an expert in cooking for your college life to run smoothly, but knowledge in the kitchen can certainly help. Aside from being able to eat healthy meals instead of relying on fast foods, preparing your food can also help cut down on food expenses.
Laundry is another chore you’d have to deal with daily. After all, you’ll need clean clothes. And while there are laundry shops that can help you with this, knowing how to do your laundry can be more cost-effective. You can utilize the appliance provided by your housing facility so you can save money.
7) Prepare Your Clothes
Before heading off to college, you'd have to understand what kind of clothing will work best in the climate where you will live. Note that some places tend to be hotter than others, and some may have colder winters or occasionally very warm summers.
And with that in mind, you may want to pack thicker clothes and jackets if you plan on attending university in the northern area. If it's really hot during summertime, consider buying lightweight materials like cotton or linen instead of heavier synthetic fibers like polyester blends or wool blends. Ideally, they can trap heat more than lighter-weight fabrics.
Also, consider how easy each item will be to clean. It may be practical to get clothes that can easily get cleaned.
8) Make Sure You Know Your Way Around Campus Before Move-In Day
As a new student, it would be to your advantage to know and be familiar with where everything is on campus. Not only will this help with your safety, but it can also make it more convenient for you and makes you feel more at home during your first few weeks. For instance, knowing where your classes are can help ensure that you're not late for class, which may lead to tardiness and docked points from the professor.
Or perhaps, if you want a quiet place away from distractions to study during breaks between classes, you can check where the library is so you’ll know where to go. The same goes for any other buildings or facilities around campus. It is best to know their locations so that if something urgent comes up, there would be no problem finding them quickly.
Having a map in hand can also be helpful when traveling around the campus after dark or during inclement weather conditions, such as rainstorms and heavy snowfalls, the latter of which are common at northern universities. Digital maps can also come in handy if one gets lost while walking around town as they show safe routes back home. It can prevent you from heading to unsafe areas like dark alleys or abandoned lots.
If you can't physically go to your college before schools start, a virtual tour may suffice. You can check the university’s website for this feature. Being familiar with the new environment you’ll be spending a lot of time in can help reduce the anxiety and nerves you may be feeling. And more so, it can even make you feel more excited and hopeful for the new chapter ahead of you.
9) Attend And Get Involved With Fresher's Week
Fresher's Week can be the perfect time to socialize and meet fellow freshmen and get involved with various clubs and societies. Your department might even host icebreakers and social get-togethers, and attending such events can help you be comfortable and feel welcomed as you settle in before college officially starts.
You can meet your classmates in different ways, whether it's through sports or volunteering, or joining a club or society. You may even find that some of the people you meet during Fresher's Week will become lifelong friends! And with that in mind, consider getting involved with Fresher's Week at your school as much as possible. It could be one of the best decisions you can make for your future university experience.
10) Start With Your Reading
Some colleges will post their reading list or course syllabus on the website way ahead of opening day, and you can take advantage of that. It can be good to walk in with a clear sense of what your workload will look like once school starts. In addition, attending to this task ahead can help lighten your workload. And as a result, your first weeks may not be as stressful as you figure out new material coming from each course.
Although note that the reading list is not meant for you to buy in its entirety.
You can find out what the core texts are and focus on those, at least primarily. Once you get to school, you may look for the other books in the library and borrow them from there. You could also try looking for second-hand copies online from old students as they are usually way cheaper, that way you can save on resources.
11) Spend Time With Your Friends And Family Before You Go
Heading off to college can be both an exciting and emotional moment, not just for you but your family too. And so, consider spending and maximizing your time with them before you go. It is even more important the further away from home you're going to study. So, while you're still at home, spend as much time with them and hoard those good memories. They can take you through some of your homesick moments.
You can even host a party to see and hang out with the special people in your life. This can be a fantastic way to celebrate your success and kick off your college life.
College life can be one of the most memorable experiences you’ll have. It’s a phase where you can express yourself and explore your individuality. And it’s normal for you to feel excited yet anxious at the same time.
With that in mind, one of the best things you can do is start preparing early. Referring to the list above can be a start. It could feel overwhelming at first, but once you've got these preparations in place, you can feel better about what lies in store for you on this very significant journey.