Congratulations—you’re off to college in a few months! The application process was long and overwhelming, but now it’s over and you have been accepted into one of the fine institutions you took an interest in. Now, what do you do with your summer? College and schoolwork may feel like a long time away, but there are a handful of essential things you should add to your checklist in order to smoothly survive the transition to college, along with the first semester.
Know your requirements
Get familiar with the college’s core curriculum or required courses (often called general education requirements) before you start choosing classes. They’re designed to expose students to a wide variety of academic disciplines in order to provide a well-rounded education, rather than only having the students study what they decide to major in. Although you may initially dislike the idea of taking a science course when you’re attending the school to study creative writing, take a moment to understand what this well-rounded education impart essential foundations of learning, like critical thinking and analysis, while giving you appreciation for things outside your major.
Register for classes
Compared to high school, your course options in college will be quite vast. Use the general education requirements as your guide and then choose your first classes according to what you have to take. Freshman year is the time to get these out of the way, and although you should always be thinking about your major classes from the start, you likely won’t have room for many (if any) of them during these first couple of semesters, so you can worry about registering for them later on.
Understand financial aid
Know how you’re going to pay for school, as well as exactly how financial aid works. For example, FAFSA deadlines matter! Don’t let confusion about tuition or aid stand in the way of you having a successful college career. Get in touch with the financial aid office and take advantage of the plethora of online resources.
Read the news
College students who are cultural and news junkies are often more likely to get ahead in academia. Many courses touch on current events or the situations leading up to them, and it’s always good to stay current on issues within your prospective major. Not to mention, your peers will be impressed with your knowledge of what’s going on.
Get a calendar
If you haven’t done so already, get organized! You’ll have to know deadlines for papers, registration, financial aid, and everything in between. If you start college on task, it will be far easier to stay that way throughout. Seriously consider how you manage your time—your shot at academic success will deteriorate quickly if you don’t.
Related: College Planning Calendars
Make the most of orientation
Some freshman orientations happen during summer, while others are held just before the first week of classes. Make sure you know when it is, what to expect, and allow yourself to enjoy and learn from it! Orientations usually include campus tours, discussions on student life and academics, sessions on financial aid and study abroad options, and much more. Moreover, they’re a fantastic way to get acclimated to the college’s environment and also make a ton of new friends. If your school does not host a formal orientation, take time to visit campus over the summer and take a tour to get acclimated with the campus and where everything is located.
Buy your textbooks
Avoid the bookstore rush on the first week of classes by purchasing your books in advance. Search the Web for cheaper deals, or consider renting books, for a cheaper alternative. Often, professors will require students to have all their course materials on the first day of class, so don’t be the person who shows up embarrassed and unprepared. Additionally, having your books early gives you some great leeway into getting a clear idea of what these classes will ultimately cover.
While it is good to get a jumpstart by competing these seven things, you also need to make sure to take advantage of your summer vacation while you have it! You are soon going to be moving away and on your own, so relish in your favorite aspects of your hometown, spend quality time with family and friends, and savor these last few months before making the big change.
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