At this point, you’ve probably already been inundated with tasks from the college to complete– signing up for orientation, submitting your housing paperwork, registering for classes, sending your final transcripts, and more! Now that you’re entering summer, you’re probably thinking that this is going to be the best summer of your life. And it will be…BUT there are some things you can do to help prepare for the transition to college.
1. Create a budget for yourself.
Whether you plan to work in college or not, it’s wise to set a budget for yourself so that you can track your spending and not run into any emergencies. If you have an idea of your income (money that you earn, allowance, etc.), you can start to track your fixed expenses (things that you HAVE to pay) as well as you variable expenses (things that are optional). Balancing your budget can help ensure that you’ll have enough money to cover your expenses each month and starting to save can help ensure that you have a back-up plan for those unforeseen expenses (i.e. your car breaks down, your hard drive crashes, etc.). The Federal Student Aid Office has a great guide for how to create a budget.
2. Schedule your time.
Once you set your class schedule, create a weekly schedule for yourself. Start by scheduling in your non-negotiables (class, work) and then schedule in everything else around those items. It may feel funny, but schedule time for sleep, exercise, and fun. Many college students report feeling completely overwhelmed their first year of college just because they’re not getting enough sleep! If you know that you function best with at least 8 hours of sleep, make sure that your schedule allows for all of those hours! Also, it may feel silly to schedule fun things, but devoting a dedicated time for fun activities can help you to switch gears and unwind or release stress in a productive manner that works for you.
3. Get involved on campus.
It may seem counter intuitive to get involved in school activities when you’re just trying hard to maintain your grades, but getting involved may actually help more than you think. Joining a club or organization may help you to feel more connected to your campus and may help you to meet new people with whom you have a common interest. Through these networks, you may be able to find upperclassmen who can advise you on courses to take, professors to avoid, academic resources, and other tips and trick to be a successful and happy student.
4. Start collecting reminders of home that you can take with you to college.
It’s more than likely that you won’t be able to take your whole bedroom with you when you go to college (and it may not make a ton of sense to do so). However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t bring things with you that remind you of home. Start thinking about items you can fit in your suitcase or bag that will remind you of home and help you feel less homesick. Consider going through some photos and printing out ones that you want to take with you. Determining which of your 25 track medals you want to bring with you (or even that stuffed animal you’ve had since you were six years old).
5. Say goodbye.
You may not actually be leaving home to attend college or you may not be going far enough to think that saying goodbye is necessary. However, you are entering a new stage of your life and sometimes allowing yourself a level of closure on your pre-college years can actually give you permission to fully enjoy your college experience. Meet up with your friends from high school, spend some extra time with your family, re-visit your favorite high school hangouts, make lots of memories, and then start the new chapter in your educational journey.
6. Keep an open mind.
College may be everything you imagined, but it could also be nothing like you imagined. Keep an open mind about what you’re experiencing and try not to let your expectations get the better of you. No one knows what you were like in high school so challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and try some new experiences.
7. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
That first year of college might be tough. You may find that it’s a lot to make new friends, get involved, AND do well in your classes. That is completely normal. Give yourself some time to adjust to being in college. Don’t overload on the toughest classes your first term (even if you were the valedictorian !) so that you can focus on finding balance. If you find that you didn’t quite meet your own goals or expectations, brush it off and adjust for the next term. Many students struggle with the transition to college so don’t worry; you’re not alone!
Veritas Prep is committed to helping students put together the best college applications possible. All of our consultants have prior admissions experience at the top colleges in the world and have evaluated students just like you. For more information, visit us at www.veritasprep.com/college. Complete our FREE college profile evaluation and talk to one of our expert evaluators today!
By Jennifer Sohn Lim, Assistant Director of Admissions at Veritas Prep.