There’s a lot to do before you head off to college—and even more when you’re preparing to move out of state. It’s not like you can pop home as easily as students attending colleges nearby their hometowns. You're making a big change and taking a big step into a whole new lifestyle. So there are some things you’ll want to tackle or not miss out on before heading off in the fall. For your convenience and speaking from experience, here are 10 things to do before you move out of state for college.
1. Don’t take a summer class unless it’s necessary
Even though summer classes can be helpful in preparing you for what’s to come and for adapting to the college mentality, it’s not worth the time and stress simply to try and get into the groove of things a couple months ahead of time. One of my best friends took a month-and-a-half-long college course over this summer, and having to move to Washington, DC, from California, she was shorter on time for shopping for her dorm and packing to leave in just a couple weeks after the course ended.
2. Pack and store
Figure out exactly what you’re packing for the move and what you need to store. Know what to bring, and if you’re moving into a dorm, don’t pack anything you’re not sure you’ll use. Knick-knacks, for example, aren’t really necessary and can cause clutter, which isn’t recommended for your studying environment. Make a list of what you’re taking (i.e., clothes, shoes, pillows, blankets, books, etc.) and make an inventory of what you’re storing for easy access when you come home. Labeling everything clearly makes it much more simple for you and your family to know where everything is.
3. Meet up with close friends
Something you’ll need to do, even just for a day, is meet up with your close friends before you all leave for college. Moving out of state, there’s a lot of new places and new people to meet, so take some time to enjoy the friends you’ve made and celebrate the times you’ve all spent together before you leave. Have lunch, watch movies, play games, and plan meet-ups for when you’re all back home during holiday breaks.
4. Travel around your state as much as possible
One thing I felt the need to do before I left for college is truly travel around my state and understand the ways it’s unique. Having explored more of the southern half and living close enough to the coast for annual day trips to the beach, I took a good five days to travel across Northern California with my mom to see the sights and visit a few national parks. Serving as both a bonding trip and a way to venture for the first time throughout my state, hitting the open road (even with the fires going on around us) gave me a sense of security and closure as I got ready to pursue an academic future elsewhere. Another thing you should do is hit up your favorite local restaurants. I knew my future city didn’t have an In-n-Out, so I made that stop as much as I could the summer before I left for school. Goodbye beautiful burgers and fresh fries…goodbye California…
5. Communicate with your roommate
It’s move-in day. Since most of the students out of state have to live on campus, you’re likely set up with a complete stranger. Keeping a conversation through your housing portal or getting each other’s phone numbers beforehand can make communication easier and help you get to know the person you’ll be living with for the most formative years of your life—plus, it will make move-in day less stressful. As soon as I got my room assignment this year, I started messaging my roommate, and we were able to find out more about each other and set up perameters we likely wouldn’t have thought of until we were in the middle of the semester. It’s always a good idea to forewarn each other about living habits and preferences.
6. Change your style
College is a time of change and transition. That being said, you’d be surprised what changing with the times can do for you. In college, you can establish a whole new, more professional style. You can be flirty or you can be sporty. This is your time to learn about your field of interest and yourself. So if you’ve been thinking about it, get a haircut, dye your hair, get an ear piercing—you name it! Express yourself how you want to and be true to who you are.
7. Establish a routine
You’ll be taking a lot of classes in college and will have a tighter schedule between those, work or internships, clubs, and studying (not to mention socializing and making new friends). To maintain a good balance in your life, it’s best to come up with a day-to-day routine you can follow to keep track of everything and make the transition to college life a lot easier. Map everything out before you move. It’ll free up more of your time so you get into the swing of things more efficiently.
8. Familiarize yourself with your new city and local history
Fun fact: the dwarf planet Pluto was discovered at an observatory just miles from my college. The Grand Canyon is also just a drive away. Every time I look up things fairly local to my school, I get more excited about the environment and surrounding opportunities to explore. You may not have time for sightseeing with your busy schedule, but it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the area in case you decide to head into town or hang out off campus with your new friends on weekends.
9. Join every form of social media (and be professional on it)
You never know if your classmates or professors are going to want to keep in touch with social or professional opportunities, so it’s good to have a presence on social media (namely LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). Fair warning though: you have to keep more personal information and memes for your spam accounts. Make sure the information you post is not only accurate but unbiased and professional.
10. Visit campus
One thing I wish I could have done this summer was visit my future campus. Even though I fell in love with my first choice through its excellent programs, its city, and its avid communications, there’s a lot to be said for figuring out how it feels to walk across the quad or see the classrooms you’ll spend hours of your weeks in. If at all possible, take the opportunity to tour the school, or really soak in the atmosphere when you go to orientation. It can help you acclimate to your campus while you’re there. And if you really can’t make the trip to visit, there are other ways to get to know the school.
Overall, take your time and use your summer to prepare yourself for the transition of a lifetime. Enjoy the last few weeks before the move and understand you’re not alone in this experience. There are thousands of students who start school in a new state and want to explore as many new opportunities as possible just like you, so get ready for it—you’ll be there before you know it!
If you need even more summer college prep advice, check out our blog How to Prepare for College Over the Summer!