Getting Ready for Your First Year of College

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Your senior year of high school has flown by so fast, and it’s likely that summer will go just as quickly. You’ll want to start thinking ahead to starting college and getting yourself in the mindset of a college student. Here are some things to keep in mind this summer to be sure you’re ready to start your college experience off right.

Don’t Totally Slack Off Mentally

You’ve worked hard the last four years of high school. It’s summer, and you want to have fun. That’s okay; you deserve a break, but don’t let your brain turn to mush in the hot sun. Like I said, the time will fly. To avoid being caught totally off guard with the approach of your first college semester, keep your mind active by reading books that interest you. Grab a great novel to take with you to the pool or beach. You may even want to consider buying your textbooks ahead of time and look over them just to get a preview of what you’ll be studying.

Get the Most Out of Orientation

Most likely, you’ll be required to attend a college orientation session. This is a great time to really check out the campus and get to know some of your peers ahead of time. You might even make a friend or two. It’d be reassuring to know someone your first days on campus. Beyond the social aspect of orientation there lies the academic. This is probably where you’ll choose your classes, learn a bit about campus life, and get some tips on good study habits. Pay attention. Seriously. I know it may sound like a bunch of stuff you don’t really need to hear, but they tell you these things for a reason. Pay particular attention to the presentations from the student orientation leaders or other current students. You may even want to try to talk individually with one to get an insider’s view of college life. Getting the scoop from a real student can save  you a lot of headache down the line.

Do Some Research

If you’re not able to talk to a current college student to get the low down, you can always research things on your own. Look for online resources from current college students.  A good one to consider is Making It Count’s Year One, which chronicles a real student’s first year of college in her own words. Getting personal accounts from others who’ve been there and done that is a great way to learn about the unknown. Did you know you can even get student insight on your future instructors at Rate My Professors? Check it out, but remember to look at the ratings critically. One bad comment doesn’t mean the professor sucks.

Read a book about college life. Some good ones to consider are: Your Big Sister’s Guide to Surviving College (check out my review), The Community College Experience, and Becoming a Master Student. There are countless others, but these are a few that I have read and can definitely stand behind. In fact, I used two of these when teaching my study skills course. I highly recommend enrolling in a college survival or first year course of some kind to get a good overview of study skills and other helpful information to guide you through your entire college career.

Prepare for the Dorm Experience

If you’re going away to school, it’s likely you’ll be spending your first year in a dorm or residence hall on campus. This is a whole new world for many. From what I’ve seen, dorm life has changed quite a bit since I was in school, offering more choices and larger rooms. However, you won’t be able to take all of your possessions with you. Check with your school’s residence life office to get a list of what’s recommended and permitted. You’ll also want to get in touch with your roommate as soon as you can so you can get to know him or her. Be sure to coordinate who will bring what. You don’t want to have duplicates of anything in such a small space.

Save Your Pennies

If you’ve got a summer job, don’t blow all your money. Be sure to save some for your first semester of college. You’ll want to order pizza in, go to a campus event, or enjoy the occasional shopping trip, and who knows when or if you’ll score a job on campus. Many college faculty and stuff don’t recommend working during college. While the majority of your time will be spent studying, I realize that it’s simply unrealistic for some students not to work during the school year. You’ll be a lot more relaxed if you can put off getting a job for awhile until you’ve gotten used to the college routine.

This should give you a good head start on getting ready for college. Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you’d like more information or have a question about something that I didn’t cover.


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