Getting Prepared for College: 5 Tips for Success

getting-prepared-for-collegeIf you’re feeling anxious or uncertain about the transition from high school to college, don’t worry! You’re certainly not alone. In fact, this may be the first time you have had to seriously move outside of your social and academic comfort zone. Use this as a guide to get prepared and start feeling more confident in your decision to go to college!

Getting Prepared for College in 5 Easy Steps

Tip #1: Consider the Financial Aspects of College

A college education is one of the most rewarding investments that you can make, yet financing that education may feel unattainable at first glance. If that’s the case, applying for financial aid and scholarships will help you to offset some of the cost of college. In fact, most students will actually pay less than sticker price when considering scholarships and financial aid.

Once you have successfully applied for financial aid, you will want to sit down with your parents and determine responsibilities as far as future payments are concerned. For example, your parents may be responsible for tuition and books, while you may be responsible for weekend activities and dorm decor. Or maybe your parents will make payments while you are in school, and once you have graduated and landed a successful career, you can take on payments.

Next you will want to make sure that your personal finances are in order – everything from setting a budget to setting up your bank account are important tasks you will want to complete before leaving for college. Check online for the bank branches local to the college you choose. Determine if ATMs and branch locations are easily accessible.

Tip #2: Plan Out Your First-Semester Schedule

Registering for classes as a first-year student can feel overwhelming, especially since this is likely the first time you have had the opportunity to pick your own classes and create a schedule that works for you. While there is a litany of required or colloquium courses for your first year, you may have the option of taking these courses at different times during the day – for example, if you’re a morning person, take your prerequisites in the morning instead of the evening hours to ensure that you stay focused and on task.

Not sure where or how to begin? Most colleges will help you to register for courses during orientation.

Tip #3: Attend Orientation

Attending your first-year orientation may seem like a no-brainer, but be sure that you have this marked and highlighted on your calendar! Orientation may occur anywhere between June and September, depending on the college you’re attending, and is often mandatory. That being said, if your orientation is scheduled in the summer, be sure to plan trips or activities with family and friends around your orientation date.

What will you learn? Orientation sessions are typically designed to provide first year students with important information, including: academic advising, course registration, as well as an opportunity to connect with your campus community and meet other incoming first year students.

Tip #4: Get Organized

In high school you followed a specific and non-negotiable schedule. In college, that schedule is going to change drastically. Instead of the 8:00-2:30/3:00 schedule, students will now have to freedom to schedule their courses sporadically throughout the day. Be sure that you have every class written down and that you make it to every class. In high school, attendance was enforced every morning; in college, that may not be the case – making it your responsibility to stay organized and true to your commitment to college.

You’ll also want to reflect this behavior with your class assignments. To stay organized and successful, mark these dates on a planner. With all of your dates organized you’ll be able to more effectively gauge when to write a paper or study for an exam – and not have to cram the night before!

Tip #5: Land an Internship

The first year of college marks an imperative turning point in your academic career, so you will want to focus energy adjusting to new academic guidelines and responsibilities. Once your second semester comes to a close, start researching different opportunities for the summer. Whether you’re interested in obtaining a part-time job, volunteering at a local organization or building your skills through an internship, it’s important to start looking at those options early.

Almost every school will offer a career center with professionals on-hand, eager to help students like you with their job or internship search. With today’s competitive nature at the forefront of every profession, it’s important to use your time in college as an opportunity to build your resume – and internship experience will provide just that!