For many of us, going to college is something we spend so much of our young lives dreaming about. The independence of moving away from home, making new friends, and getting the first taste of adulthood–it’s all so exciting! Yet even if you’re counting down the days until you begin this next chapter, it’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed with preparing for college.
If you’re looking for your guide to starting college, we’re here to help. We remember what those last few months before heading off to college were like, and we know what things you need to do to prepare. Before you pack up the car and drive off to your next adventure, here’s how to get ready...
Take care of logistics
You likely want to just enjoy your time before college–and you can! However, there are some important logistics to take care of before starting college.
Complete all college admin
The last thing you want is to show up on the first day of the semester and realize you didn’t do something important! It may be boring, but one of the most important things to do before college is to take care of the little details.
Once you’ve decided on where you’re going to college and have confirmed your place, make sure you take care of all the admin. Your university will send you some sort of guide outlining what you need to do before your first day, but there are some basics you’ll likely have to complete regardless of where you’re studying. These include:
- Set up your student ID and student email. 💻
- Pay all necessary fees. Whether your parents are paying for college, you received scholarship money, or you're using loans, ensure you have all the financials taken care of by any necessary due dates. (Your college wants your money, so they definitely won’t let you forget to do this!)
- Enrolling in modules. As a first-year student, it’s likely you will have some required modules. However, if you need help determining what exact modules to take, a member of your academic department or your local school counselor can advise you.
These little details can be a lot to take care of, and writing down a college preparation checklist can help you keep track of everything. 📝
Finding somewhere to live is a significant part of how to prepare for college. 🏠
It’s likely this is your first time living away from home, so you may be unsure what kind of accommodation you want. Determining your budget is the first step to sorting out accommodation. However, there are also some important questions to ask yourself to help you determine where to live:
- How much time alone do you need? Are you comfortable living with many people, or do you want some space to yourself at times?
- Do you want to live close to campus to easily commute to class and other activities, or are you okay being a bit far away? Will you have a car or a bicycle, or do you plan on walking everywhere?
- Do you want where you live to be very social and full of parties, or do you want your home to be quiet?
Your living situation is a huge part of your first-year experience. Though you’ve likely heard horror stories of terrible roommates, your accommodation will most likely work out well. If you’re nervous about potential issues, living in dorms might be your best choice, as your college will have procedures in place to help with roommate disputes.
Figure out your moving plan
Once you know where you’ll be living, you need to figure out a way to get there! Even if you’re bringing your own car, it may not be large enough to transport all your things. Determine if you’ll need to rent a moving van, or simply hire a larger car for the day.
This might be the first time you’ve moved before, and it can feel overwhelming! Start by making a list of everything you want to bring with you. Then, a few months before you’re set to leave, start doing a clean-out of your things. Begin small, with your closet or drawers. Packing and moving step by step will help it feel less stressful. Start putting things into boxes you know you won’t need, like your winter clothes. 📦
Preparing for adult life
Going to college is an important right of passage into adulthood! Before you leave, here are some basic things to check off your list.
Brush up on basic life skills
It’s possible you’ve been helping out around the house for years. However, going to college means being wholly responsible for your own chores, and that can be a bit stressful.
Make sure you have basic “life skills” down. Learn how to do laundry–not just the basics, but how to make sure you don’t shrink your sweaters or ruin your pants! Learn what cleaning products you need in your house, which ones are safe to fix, and which aren’t. If you’re bringing your car with you to college, make sure you understand basic maintenance in case you run into an issue. 🚗
It’s important to know how to cook, too! You don’t have to be the next MasterChef, but it’s important to know at least a few simple meals. 🍳 You might think you can survive on takeout and frozen meals, but you’ll soon find that your budget (and your body) will need a home-cooked meal at times. Ask your mom or dad to teach you how to recreate some of your favorites, or even look on TikTok or Instagram for some ideas!
Pack some supplies
You won’t realize how many things you need until you leave home. While you’re busy packing for college, make sure to create a “just in case” box, too. This can be full of things you often find around the house, such as:
- Safety pins
- Small sewing kit
- Cold & flu medicine
- Elastic bands
If you’re not sure what to pack, have a look in your bathroom medicine cabinet or kitchen junk drawer–both are likely full of things you might need!
Prepare for the big stuff
It’s possible that you’ve drunk alcohol before going to uni, and you might already be sexually active. Still, being away from home often leads young people to get more into these very grown-up things and potentially end up in dangerous situations. This is why it’s important to be prepared.
If you’re sexually active or think you will be at university, make sure you're prepared for safe sex. Buying condoms may feel embarrassing, but it’s normal! If you’re feeling shy, ask someone else to buy them for you. Your college health center will likely have some available for free, too. If you take hormonal contraceptives, make sure you know where to continue to get them while you’re at college. Safe sex is an important part of being a grown-up!
It’s necessary to understand drug and alcohol safety too. Know the signs of alcohol poisoning or an overdose, and what to do if you see one. Your college probably has systems in place to help students who have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol or use drugs. Be aware of what your school can do to help, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you think you or a friend may have a problem.
College may be one of the first times you encounter these kinds of adult problems. No matter what happens, remember you’re not alone, and there are people around you to support you.
Preparing for college can feel stressful; however, remember to enjoy yourself, too! There’s a reason so many movies take place the months before college. This is a special time in your life and one you certainly want to remember! Spend time with your friends. Have sleepovers and parties. Enjoy all the school leavers' traditions. Soak in all the fun stuff as much as you can. Take care of what you need to do to prepare, but also enjoy your time with your friends.
You might be worried about the future, and how things will change when you go to college–and it’s inevitable that they will. However, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing! This is a new chapter for you, and an opportunity to enrich and grow your life in ways you may have never even expected.
Before going to college, write yourself a letter of everything you want to get out of these next three years and keep it somewhere safe to revisit right before your commencement. A lot happens during college, and you’ll be shocked at how much you’ve grown and changed during your time.
Starting college is a big step. You may be feeling a bit stressed and anxious, but just remember how many people before you have gone through it before, too, and not only survived but thrived. You’re going to do great–all it takes is a little preparation. ❤️