Hey there and welcome back to the Send Your Kids to College blog! We are a locally operated nonprofit that helps kids and their families better understand planning for college. Here on the blog, we offer up insights and tips for readers to learn a few things, and be more prepared. Today on the blog, as we sit in the first days of summer, we wanted to give some thoughts on what students should be doing this summer if they're planning to attend college in the fall!
Here are 10 things to do the summer before your parents drop you off at campus!
The transition from home and high school to living alone and going to college can be both exciting and overwhelming. The summer prior to going away can be a fruitful time to prepare yourself to ensure your first-year experience is smooth and productive.
1. Take a Visit
Many colleges will open up their campus for guided tours and visits during June, July, and August. If you haven't taken a trip to see and feel the school in person yet, now is the time! Summer in the Northeast offers up just about the most beautiful time to see your new home. Families can ask questions, and students can familiarize themselves with the important landmarks to get an idea ahead of time of where their classes may be, where they'll be eating, sleeping, etc.
2. Get a Summer Gig
Hopefully, you've already had The College Money Talk and you've had a summer job before, but a lot of students start saving money with summer work to start tackling their future student loans before ever taking a class! You're going to need some spending money to get you through the semester if you don't plan on working, and you're going to need some supplies and books. Full-time or even just a part-time job can give you some cushion.
3. Learn How to Feed Yourself
One customary tradition we like to recommend is ensuring that students become a bit more self-sufficient PRIOR to getting to college. Your college experience will teach you so much through experience living on your own but don't make it more difficult. Learn some things that your parents may have done for you in the past, like cooking. Your independent life is starting, and that means you won't have somebody looking over your shoulder. Getting up on time, studying on your own, setting goals, and even doing your own laundry is going to be your responsibility soon! Get used to it sooner rather than later.
4. Clean Out Your Old Stuff, and Consider a Yard Sale
You're going to need to pack, but you can't bring your whole bedroom. Start looking at your inventory of your clothing and belongings and decide what's going to stay and what can go. Your parents will thank you later, though some parents may try to keep your room how it is until you're 40, that's ok too. Another way to earn some quick cash is to have a yard sale with some of this old stuff! Either way, the earlier you start organizing, the less hectic your packing session will be.
5. Spend Some QT with the Fam & Local Friends
Having close family & friends is going to come in handy the first time you get homesick. You will miss those special ones back home, but summer is the time to ensure you spend some quality time with them. Once school begins, you're going to be busy and making all sorts of new connections, but this is the last time for a while you're going to get to see these folks, so make good use of your summer to see everyone prior to your departure.
6. Introduce Yourself to Your Roomie!
Not every roomie relationship flourishes. Let's get that right out there now, as it can be difficult if you don't like your roommate. One way to mentally prepare yourself is to introduce yourself to your roommate ahead of time. Many schools will offer this info up ahead of schedule so you know who the person is before meeting them on your first day, but why wait? The sooner you become comfortable, (or realize you might not ever be), the sooner you have a fruitful relationship with them (or someone else).
7. Go To Freshman Orientation!
Whether you're going away to school or commuting locally, you should always make sure to attend orientation. Most colleges have some form of summer orientation for incoming students, and it's a great way to establish some new relationships so you walk in on day 1 with some connections. This is a great time to ask questions of your upperclassmen, advisors, and volunteers who attend college there. The more you soak in, the easier your first year will be.
8. Send Final Transcripts
Be sure you're aware of your school's transcript deadlines if you haven't already submitted. Most universities require transcripts from high school to be sent prior to the fall term. Some (dedicated) school counselors will submit these for you once finished.
9. Finalize Financials
Student loan approvals can take anywhere from a day or 2 to a few weeks. Financial aid, scholarships, or help from family can help pay for your college, but not if you don't have tuition and fees paid prior to the first day of classes. Ensure you finalize your finances and a payment plan schedule the summer before college starts. If you need help with anything regarding FAFSA, you can always reach out to us here.
10. Go Shopping
Not for clothes, but for your supplies! Well, for clothes too. Make a list of anything you need for college that you don't already have. If you did your inventory and cleaned out your closet, you should already have a pretty good idea! Consider all the things you may need for classes, bookbag, pens, and organization materials. Think about your dorm room and things you may need like a mini fridge, laptop, bedding etc. It's always best to wait and see on textbooks, as some professors will not rely on the assigned textbook, and you can find used versions on campus potentially. Your school bookstore will have a lot of your common needs, but usually, those stores are higher priced and it's best to prepare yourself ahead of time with regard to materials and dorm utilities. There you have it! What'd we leave out? Let us know! If you or someone you know is planning to attend college but becoming lost in the planning process, don't hesitate to reach out. Our team is dedicated to helping WNY families better understand the college money talk and we're more than willing to help! Stay tuned here on the blog, Facebook and Linkedin for more tips and insights!