Pre-College Prep: How to Get Ready for Your First Semester

Whether you're excited, nervous, or both, there are a lot of things to do before you start your first year of college. Here's how to prepare so you feel more comfortable and prepared on move-in day.

The few short months of time between high school graduation and your first day of college are no doubt filled with a myriad of emotions. If you’re like me, you may or may not be on a rollercoaster ride of thoughts and feelings, attempting to sort through the nerves that come with a new environment and an inexplicable desire for the first day of classes to just start already!

Whether you’re dying for the semester to start or just wish things would go a little slower, the reality is, there are still a lot of things to get done before move-in day. Some of these tasks are much more exciting than others. But overall, after getting some of them completed, not only will you start feeling more comfortable and excited about your first day of college, you will also feel much more prepared. 

Get to know your peers

One thing to start doing before school starts in the fall is to get connected with incoming students. With so many social media platforms readily available, many colleges are taking advantage of these sites to create student outreach pages for incoming freshmen, which is a phenomenal way to start making new friends and connections. When I found out about my college’s page for incoming freshmen, as someone who is typically shy and likes to hang back unnoticed in the shadows, I was both thrilled and intimidated. The important thing to remember is that all these other students are just as nervous as you are, so this is a great time to step out of your comfort zone and reinvent yourself.

Instead of letting my shy side dominate, I decided to step out on a limb and reach out to some students who shared similar interests. Now I already have a few campus friends, and I haven’t even started school yet! If your college doesn’t have one of these pages, it is fairly easy to create one yourself and try to reach out and spread the word to as many incoming students as possible. Either way, you’re sure to start feeling more welcome to your new home.

Handle your academics

The next thing you need to do is to make sure all your academics are in order for the upcoming year. If you took any AP, CCP, or DE classes, you need to make sure all your college transcripts and test scores are sent in to your college. You may request your college transcripts by procuring a Request Form from either your guidance counselor or straight from the college campus itself. AP scores can be forwarded by writing in your college code on your test form, or if you didn’t fill that part of your testing sheet in, you can go to the AP Central website and request your scores from there. In conjunction with this, make sure your high school has forwarded your high school transcripts as well.

Also be aware of any placement exams you may need to take before the fall semester begins. This is very important to have completed so you can get placed into the best classes for your academic level. If you don’t get your placement exams taken care of, you will have trouble with scheduling and may even end up in some wonky or unnecessary classes—a waste of your time and money.

Schedule orientation

Maybe a smaller step in the pre-college prep process—but still just as exciting—is to schedule your orientation. Many colleges have several days available for orientation, so you can sign up for the day that works best for you. College orientation is a very exciting day, and even though you will hear a lot of repeat information that you probably already know, there will be new information to hear as well—not to mention the social aspect. While heading into orientation and not knowing anyone may seem intimidating, it’s a fantastic time to meet some of your new classmates and even make some fantastic new friends. My orientation was definitely a whirlwind of nerves and excitement, but in just that one day, I made some new friends that I can’t wait to spend college with. Also, be prepared, because once you have orientation, the excitement levels for college grow exponentially.

Plan, purchase, and pack

The last big step for college planning is to make a list of all the things you’ll need for college, and then go out and buy them! This is probably one of the most exciting parts of the pre-college experience, especially if you love to shop. Start putting a list together of all the things you will need to take with you and things that you’ll need to buy. If you need help figuring out what to bring, there a plenty of lists to help you get started that you can find on the Internet (including What to Pack for College: The Essential List). You can also turn to your college for references on packing; many colleges send out a list to help students get an idea of what to bring. When shopping for these items, you should look for deals and coupons online to help you save some additional money. Another thing that will help save money and time is to coordinate items with your roommate, particularly the more expensive objects like microwaves and televisions. Try a system where you and your roommate split things evenly. For example: you bring a mini fridge, he/she brings a microwave. This way the cost is split more evenly and effectively.

Getting ready to start college is an exciting time, but there are a lot of things to put into place before fall semester begins. Even though you may be as excited as I am for college to finally begin, take some time to enjoy your last summer before college and spend some much needed time with your friends and your family.

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About Katie E. Warner

Hey everyone! If you're reading this, then I guess you want to know a bit about me, so here goes! My name is Katie, and I'm an aspiring novelist/editor, a bit of an English nerd, and a lot of a bibliophile. I like drinking tea, especially when it's raining, but not the sweetened kind. When I chance upon a wild flock of free time, I enjoy reading, writing, singing, and theater. Someday I would love to travel all over the world and experience countless adventures, meet new people, and try all the food I could possibly eat!


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