So, you are just a breath away from experiencing the life of a freshman and are preparing for college life. What a fantastic period of your life opens up in front of you! You will now be living on your own, setting your own schedule, and managing your own budget.

To be able to experience the transition as stress-free as possible, take note of the following 5 sections. They highlight crucial things you need to take care of before leaving home. You will also find a few key points that will help make the moving and overall transition so much easier and smoother for you!

how to prepare for college

Things to Do to Get Ready for College #1: Tie Up Loose Ends

  • Make sure your future college has received your final high school transcript (there are websites like Parchment, National Student Clearinghouse, and Need My Transcript that can help you ask for and send your school transcript or you may go to your local school district or guidance counselor and ask him/her for help).
  • Submit your AP scores and your final college transcript.
  • Ensure that the financial aid office has all the required information and necessary documents, such as your parents’ income tax returns, your driver’s license, and social security card so you don’t lose a part of your financial aid.
  • Visit your doctor for a check-up. Also, make arrangements for any prescriptions you may need (if you have on-going ones).
  • Make an appointment with your dentist to have your teeth cleaned and take care of any required dental procedures before heading to college.
  • Open a bank account and don’t forget to check that the town you will be staying has an ATM or a branch of that bank.
  • Learn how to do the laundry and write checks (or use online bill pay).
  • Apply for a credit card with no fees and a low-interest rate just in case you need cash for an emergency.
  • Learn your social security number by heart as you will need it for several things (i.e. to get a job or open a bank account).
  • Call the college’s housing department to verify the situation of your dorm. If you are staying in a house or an apartment (also read below), then ensure that you double check with the roommate or landlord that you are all set to move in.

Taking Care of Utility Services

One of the most important things to do before college if you are living off-campus is to set up a new account for each utility service provider (i.e. electric and cable/internet).

To do so, call the selected utility and ask for the representative that deals with new customers, who will inform you about things like deposits. Alternatively, you can access each utility’s website and seek information there. Most utilities will ask you to fill a simple online form with moving details (name, address, a meter reading etc.).

Things to Do to Get Ready for College #2: Make Necessary Financial Preparations

It is extremely important to figure out your college finances. Where are you going to get the money you need to pay your tuition fees? This should be on top of the list of things to do before college because it can affect your college life dramatically.

Without a doubt, living on a budget is much easier if you have done some prep before you leave home. Consider the following options when preparing for college life:

  • Government Scholarships – File for government-run FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) no matter what (even if you believe they won’t accept your applications). You may qualify for a federal scholarship, grant, loan, or work-study program. In the first two cases, you won’t need to pay back the money you receive.
  • College Award Letters – You should have received an award letter from your college, mentioning what aid the institution can offer you (scholarships, grants, and perhaps loans too). So, they will offer you a sum at first, but you can appeal for more aid.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  • Private Scholarships – Funding can come from thousands of sources, ranging from national companies to churches and local businesses. Go through the varying requirements carefully and see what each scholarship is offering (some pay room and textbooks and others offer aid for tuition). You may also qualify for student loans for school supplies too.                                                                                                                                                     
  • Federal Work-Study Programs – You get a part-time job (most likely related to the field of study), and your salary goes straight towards paying your tuition fees. Plus, you gain valuable working experience.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
  • Federal Student Loans – They offer a lower interest rate and more flexibility in their repayment plans compared to private loans. Besides, you might also qualify for a student loan forgiveness plan which could delete your debt.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
  • On-Campus Job Opportunities – You may take up a campus job and put the money you earn towards repaying your loan early. Call up the college student office even before the semester starts and let them know that you are looking for an on-campus job.

    It is a good option if, for example, your financial aid does not cover 100% of college tuition.

Finally, there are private student loans, but these should be your last resort due to the more stringent repayment regulations and higher interest rates than the federal ones.

Tip: After you have determined how you will pay for college tuition, make sure you create a budget to cover the necessary (and other) expenses and stick to it in the weeks or months leading up to college.

financial tips for college

Things to Do to Get Ready for College #3: Make Moving in as Hassle Free as Ever

Planning ahead will give you the time to list all the necessary items you will need in college, as well as limit the chance of damaging your stuff. Right below, is a section mentioning essential things college students forget to pack but do follow these handy guidelines to know where to begin:

Start packing the things you know you won’t need immediately and items that you can comfortably fit in boxes (asking around your friends/neighbors and/or retail/grocery stores for boxes will save you some serious money too).

Also, consider the possibility that you may need to order collapsible box springs (i.e. to move things in spaces that a normal box doesn’t fit, like a narrow staircase).

Now, when it comes to clothes, there are various ways to save space. For example, you can roll your casual outfits and put shocks inside your shoes. Just make sure you won’t need to spend your time ironing clothes when you get there by placing your nice clothes in garment bags (and keeping them hanging until you arrive at the new location).

Don’t forget to:

  • Get all the tools you will need to assemble things like your chairs, desk, and bed.
  • Get in touch with your roommate and see who will be bringing what.
  • Have a tour of the dorms before you move in.
  • Ask for a college student discount in case you have to buy something that you forgot to bring with you.
  • Make it early on Arrival Day to avoid parking hassles and unload your items with less stress.
  • If you must purchase bulky items like a refrigerator or even things like bedding, it is best to find stores that ship to dorms.

Things to Do to Get Ready for College #4: Make a Checklist of Must-Pack Items

As it is your first time leaving home to live on your own it is easy to omit items that are important to make the transition smoother and your everyday routine more relaxed. Below is a list of things college students forget to bring to college when packing their bags:

  • Extra Lamps and Light Bulbs – Many dorm rooms lack plenty of natural light so back up light bulbs and extra lighting are definitely a necessity. Also, a desk lamp is a must while a bedside lamp will allow you to study in bed without disturbing your roommate.                                                                                                                                                                                                           
  • Batteries and a Flashlight – Power outages are not uncommon, so it best to be safe than sorry! And, try to bring extra batteries for everything battery-operated you bring along (i.e. cordless keyboard).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  • Beach Towel – This can come handy for the swim during orientation or trips to the nearby beach or lake when you want to keep your bath towels clean.                                                                    
  • Step Stools – These are excellent tools to help you benefit from vertical space for storage. Given that dorm rooms are usually small, a step stool will help you maximize the space you have. If you can find a foldable one, then you can store it under your bed and only use it when necessary.                                                                                                                                                                            
  • A Duffle and a Weekender Bag – These are required during vacation and longer breaks or for a short trip home (i.e. for Thanksgiving). Choose either one depending on the length of your back-home stay.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
  • Printer – A small printer or an all-in-one machine (printer, photocopy, and scanner) will be a life-savior in cases when you need to print your final paper in the middle of the night, a day before the due date.

Tip: Stock up on extra cartridges and printer paper. 

  • Doorstop – College students tend to leave their doors open when they want their floor mates’ company. Instead of having to use your waste basket to keep your door propped open, get a doorstop!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
  • Full-length mirror – Buy one that you can prop on a wall or hang on the back of your closet.                                                                                                                                                                               
  • Alarm clock – Your smartphone may run out of battery during nighttime, or you may forget to activate the alarm before you get to bed. Better get a reliable alarm clock to make sure you will always be on time for classes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
  • Tool Kit – A kit that includes a duct tape, screwdrivers, and a utility knife will turn you into the floor’s go-to and most popular person! 

Tip: Label your stuff, so they always return to you!

  • Humidifier – Make your dorm room a more comfy place to live in. Considering that most rooms in dormitories are dry and hot, having a (small) humidifier will not only give you a better quality of air to breathe but also help you control allergy symptoms.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  • Garbage Bags – You won’t believe how quickly garbage piles up in dorm rooms! Arm yourself with lots of large-sized bags along with bags large enough to line your wastebasket.                      
  • Water Filter – The varying qualities of water among cities can cause stomach disturbances and affect your bowel movement. If you can’t have a water filter, you could consider getting a filtered bottle and be sure you are preparing for college life the healthiest way!                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  • Ethernet Cable – It will allow you to enjoy faster internet and safer browsing. Pack one whether you have your own Wi-Fi network or your dorm has Wi-Fi.                                                             
  • Digital Thermometer – It will give you a precise idea of how sick you are so you know what to do next to get better.                                                                                                                                    
  • Crucial Little items – Don’t leave home with things like spare keys, inhalers or retainers.                                                                                                                                                                                     

college tips for freshman


Things to do to Get Ready for College #5: Get Your Car Insurance License Sorted Out

Setting up yourself with the right student car insurance policy is another critical consideration if you are taking your car with you at college. Each state has its own set of minimum liability requirements so ask for your parents’ help to go through the insurance policy applicable to the state of your college.

Typically, large insurance providers like AllState and Geico provide coverage across the country and make policy changes easy (most of the times, all your parents will need to do to make the policy change is to sign the dotted lines) but do contact your insurance agent for more details.

If your insurance provider does not have national reach, then go through various student car insurance quotes and compare them with the help of your parents.

Tip: Remember to follow car maintenance appointments and have a mechanic make an oil change before you hit the road and drive to college.

Going to college is a significant and exciting milestone in every student’s life. Preparing for college life the right way will allow you to live every moment as safely, happily, and care-free as it can ever be!

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1. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide any legal, medical, accounting, investment or any other professional advice as individual cases may vary and should be discussed with a corresponding expert and/or an attorney.

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