The summer before college can be both exciting and terrifying; there’s a lot to get done and a deceivingly short amount of time to do it in. You’re getting ready to start an amazing journey full of challenge and discovery, and adventures like that always generate a mixture of uncertainty and eagerness. You may feel like you’ve got all the time in the world to prepare or that move-in day couldn’t be here soon enough. Just know that this summer is going to fly by and you’ll be starting classes soon, whether you’re ready or not. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of these next few months. But where do you start? Here are seven things you should definitely do the summer before college.
Spend Time with Friends and Family
It can be easy to get caught up in the whirlwind that is college preparation, but don’t forget about the people who have helped you get here. While setting out on your own can be exhilarating, you may not realize yet what you’ll be missing. Many first-year college students can’t wait to get back home during Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks to be with friends and family again. It’s important to treasure the time you have with them now, so make sure you plan some fun outings between the packing and prepping.
Attend Freshman Orientation
Most colleges and universities offer end of summer pre college programs to orient you to your new life on campus, better known to the masses as Freshmen Orientation. These summer precollege programs are perfect opportunities for you and your family to learn even more about your school of choice. It’s also a great time to meet others in your class, see residence halls, and meet your academic advisor. You should have already received information about your orientation, but you can also look it up on your university’s website.
Buy Your Books Ahead of Time
College textbooks can be expensive. Like crazy expensive. Unfortunately, you absolutely have to have them. The good news is that you can save a lot of money by ordering them online instead of buying them in the university bookstore. You can find out which books you need by checking your student portal, contacting your professors, or asking the university bookstore for a booklist. Most professors will give you a pass your first day of class if you don’t have your books yet, but it’s best if you order them early so you’re guaranteed to have them on time.
Read Any Required Reading
Most Freshmen Orientation programs now require all incoming students to read a particular book over the summer. The book then becomes a focal point in Freshmen Seminar classes and is often used by other university officials. It’s also possible that some of your professors will expect you to have reading assignments completed prior to your arrival. If either or both of these are the case for you, make sure you actually complete the required reading. You absolutely don’t want to make a poor impression by skipping your very first assignment.
Communicate with Your Roommate
It’s likely that your university will send contact information for your roommate during the summer or you can probably locate it on your student portal. While you may be nervous to reach out to someone you’ve never met, doing so will help you both transition a lot easier. You can get to know one another ahead of time, share course schedules, and coordinate dorm room furniture. It’s a total bummer when both roommates bring refrigerators but neither one has a television!
Strategically Plan for Your Dorm Room
TV shows and movies have a bad habit of portraying dorm rooms as enormous living spaces. Sadly, reality is not so grand. In all likelihood, you’ll have very limited space for your belongings, so it’s important to plan accordingly. After receiving your housing assignment, find a room layout on your university’s Housing and Residence Life webpage. It should include standard room dimensions, as well as information about desk and mattress sizes. Knowing this information early ensures you don’t over pack, bring items that are too large, or buy the wrong sheets for your bed.
Take Advantage of the Tax-Free Weekend
Books aren’t the only thing that can be expensive about starting college. There are lots of items that you’ll likely want to bring with you, from school supplies to dorm room accessories. One way to cut down on expenses is to shop during the tax-free weekend. Not only can you shop tax-free, but many stores run excellent deals and promotions over the weekend as well. If your state doesn’t participate in the tax-free weekend, consider taking a shopping trip to a neighboring state that does. You can also hit some great deals on holiday weekends like Memorial Day and 4th of July.
Contributed by Amanda Vosloh Bowyer