5 Ways to Prepare for Freshman Year of College

If you're nervous about starting college, this is the guide for you. We have five valuable tips on how to prepare for your freshman year of school. Take a look!

Most people who have gone to college will tell you those were some of the best years of their lives—but they often forget to tell you that transitioning from high school senior to college freshman can be difficult. It’s exciting to start college, but it can also be daunting. Luckily, there are some things you can do leading up to your first semester that will help you prepare. Here are five tips you should follow to get ready for your freshman year of college.

1. Sharpen your mind

No matter what they say, college is about learning. You’re essentially preparing for a career by studying with real experts. However, all the graduation parties during the summer leading up to your freshman year can easily cause you to forget this. Of course, it’s good to have fun with your high school friends before you set off for school. But you have to make sure to keep your brain in study mode so you’re on your best game when you start classes again. What’s the best way to sharpen your mind? Reading! It doesn’t matter what you read, just that you read. If you’ve already chosen your major, it might help to read related material. If you haven’t chosen your major yet, read a few novels over the summer. They’ll help you focus your attention and give your brain some exercise. Don’t feel like you have to lock yourself in the library all summer—you don’t have to read the entire canon of Western literature in three months. But it helps to keep your mind as sharp as possible so you’re not taken off guard when it comes time to hit the books in the fall.

Related: Why Extra Reading Matters in High School

2. Do some networking

You’ll probably hear the term networking about 650,000 times while you’re in college, but only because it’s that important. Some of the most valuable things you’ll get from school are professional connections and friendships. It’s never too early to get a head start on meeting people. By reaching out to your future classmates ahead of time, you’ll be a bit more comfortable when you arrive on campus. Most schools have a Facebook page for incoming freshmen; this is a great place to get to know some of your fellow classmates. If possible, consider meeting up with some people in your area who are attending the same school. This may seem strange, but most people will be grateful for having some connections before school starts. After all, everyone feels anxious about jumping into a whole new environment, so no one is going to judge you for trying to meet people before the semester starts.

3. Communicate with your roommates beforehand

One of the most nerve-wracking parts of freshman year is having new roommates. Living with strangers is weird at first, no matter how well you end up getting along. There’s no way to truly prepare for this, as you never really know what a person will be like until you meet and live with them. The best thing you can do is reach out and have a conversation. Chat with your roommate to find out what they’re like and to discuss what you’re bringing for your dorm. If you have a minifridge, for example, they might not need to bring one. Just making basic plans like this will break the ice and make the initial stage of your relationship a bit less awkward.

Related: How to Be Smart When Picking Your College Roommate

4. Make a budget

Now that you’re heading off on your own, it’s time to start taking responsibility for your finances. For a lot of college students, this is something entirely new. But if you don’t prepare, you’re likely to run out of cash by the end of the first month. To avoid having to call home for money, take some time and put together a budget. Allocate some cash for books, food, and entertainment. Then do your best to stick to that budget. Keeping a budget is tough in the beginning, but it’s an important part of life. You’ll be better off teaching yourself to stick to a budget early on.

5. Think about your social life

Although you’re going to school to learn and prepare for the workforce, your social life is also important. However, you have to stay in control of the type of social life you lead. It’s fun to go to parties every once in a while, but it’s not necessary to party all the time. You’ll find that there are plenty of things to do in college besides drink and a lot of people to do them with. However, it’s also easy to get carried away by those around you, especially during the early days of college. Spend some time thinking about the type of social life you want to lead once you’re in school. Figuring out what you want to get from your college social life will help you steer toward the right people and activities for those goals. It will also help you spot less-savory relationships before things go too far and you find yourself in with the wrong crowd.

Related: Video: Party Schools: Fact vs. Fiction

No amount of preparation can truly prepare you for freshman year. After all, you’re being thrown into a whole new environment with strangers. It can be scary! But these tips will make things much easier and allow for a smoother transition into one of the most fun and exciting phases of your life.

Find the right college fit for you on using the CollegeXpress College Search tool.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Aaron Hunt

Aaron Hunt is the Property Manager for Prime Place UNL student housing in Lincoln, Nebraska. You can reach him via email at lincoln@myprimeplace.com or by phone at 402-858-2858.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Farrah Macci

Farrah Macci

High School Class of 2016

CollegeXpress has helped me in many ways. For one, online searches are more organized and refined by filtering scholarships through by my personal and academic interests. Due to this, it has made searching for colleges and scholarships significantly less stressful. As a student, life can already get stressful pretty quickly. For me, it’s been helpful to utilize CollegeXpress since it keeps all of my searches and likes together, so I don’t have to branch out on multiple websites just to explore scholarship options.

Tariq Adam Khatib

Tariq Adam Khatib

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me a lot. I am a Tanzania boy who finished my high school studies in Tanzania. I never knew I could get an opportunity to get a scholarship to study abroad. I am happy that now I know how to find the school to study abroad through CollegeXpress.



High School Class of 2019

CollegeXpress has helped me by opening my eyes to new opportunities. I learned about such easy ways to get financial help to achieve my dreams while also learning about myself and who I truly am. I know this isn't a very long explanation of what CollegeXpress has done for me, but nonetheless, I believe it's crucial to how I developed as a person throughout my time as a college student.

Keydi Banegas

Keydi Banegas

Scholarship for Students of Color Winner, Class of 2022

CollegeXpress is a great application that helped me search for many different scholarships, and it narrows the scholarships depending on how you set your profile. Not only that, but it helps you choose different colleges to apply to by finding matches through the description of your profile. It was the best experience for me.

Anthony Vidal

Anthony Vidal

High School Class of 2023

CollegeXpress has helped me in a series of different ways when it comes to finding scholarships and learning information about different universities. I actually found my dream university through CollegeXpress and am working on getting there.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Gardner-Webb University

Boiling Springs, NC

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD

Trine University

Angola, IN