Final Countdown: Your Pre-College Checklist

Article-Photos218Congratulations on your high school graduation! This fall, you will embark on an incredible journey through your undergraduate education. You have likely encountered many legends about college, and you no doubt possess multiple expectations about this experience, but what can you do this summer to prepare?

June: Do Not Forget Who Helped You Arrive Here

Departing for college is exciting. But there are dozens of individuals who aided you in one respect or another, who now deserve a hand-written thank you or a meeting before you move on. Counselors, high school teachers, and other mentors are invaluable during your initial months at college, and they may serve as references in the future. Each person dedicated time and effort to you. Thank them for their help, if only to pave the way for a continued, if different, relationship in the years ahead.

July: Get Connected

The majority of incoming classes now maintain a Facebook group, as well as an e-mail listserv via your campus account. Join in and register for your school’s email server, then actually read a message or two. Fantastic campus employment opportunities and special summer programs are typically announced in early- or mid-summer. This is also an excellent method to establish contact with your new roommate and to discover which professors and courses you should attempt to schedule in your first semester.

End of July: Make Plans to Stay in Touch

Sometimes, the individuals you must leave behind are the greatest sadness of the transition to college. You will need to make major adjustments in the near future, and it is important to set aside time for the people at home. This may mean speaking to your parents and promising to call regularly, or it may mean visiting your best friend on his or her campus. It is easy to get swept up in the swing of college life, but remaining in contact with old friends and mentors can assist you the most when you find yourself struggling.

Odds and Ends

Do not forget to determine the financial budget you will need to follow, to plan with your new roommate who will bring which items, and to explore any new technology. The best time to open your unfamiliar laptop, tablet, etc. is not the first day of the semester. Decide if you are adhering to pen and paper, or if you are permitted to use a laptop or tablet in class. Purchase your textbooks online, rather than at the school bookstore. If you require a special item, such as disability compensation on tests or a vaccine waiver, arrange for them well before the term begins. No one is easily accommodating when there are hundreds of students with various problems.

College is, truly, the opportunity of a lifetime. There are a multitude of good suggestions online about what to bring (an extra extension cord is my hint!) and what to do (join clubs!), but the best answer is this: pursue what makes you happy and what enables you to take maximum advantage of every university tuition dollar. This is your money—make it count for you!


This article was written by Andrea Deck

Andrea Deck is a professional GRE tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. She is a graduate student at Columbia University in the class of 2015.

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