If you’re going to be a college freshman this September, you should absolutely be working on your tan, taking a summer vacation, and spending time with your high school friends. (It may, after all, be your last chance to relax until Thanksgiving vacation.)
But in between trips to the pool and trips to the beach, there’s a few things you can do to get ready for college, which will make your life that much easier when you land on campus in the fall.
Talk to Your Roommate
Have you talked to your roommate yet? If not, now’s the time to figure out who’s bringing the fridge, the Sony PS3, and the microwave. Figure out what you want to have in your room and split up the list, so each of you contributes something and you don’t end up with two flat-screen TVs.
Now’s also a good time to find out if your roommate is allergic to your favorite incense, despises country music, or is smuggling a pet rabbit into your room. Find out each other’s preferences and pet peeves now, so you can avoid a whole lot of headaches and late-night arguments later on.
Set Up Your Finances
Are you moving out of state? Do you have a bank account? How about a credit card?
These are the questions to ask yourself before you pack your bags and leave home, as having your finances in order will be essential to starting your college career.
The first step is to get a bank account, if you don’t have one already. Since you’ll no longer have ready access to the Bank of Mom and Dad, you’ll need a way to withdraw cash for books, supplies, and the all-important late-night pizza run. Setting up a checking account for bills and a savings account for, you guessed it, savings, is a great way to get started.
If you already have a bank account, make sure there are branches close to your school. (Otherwise you can run up costly ATM fees). If you’re moving out of state, you may want to close your local bank account and open one you can access from campus. Many schools even partner with local and national banks, making it easy to access your account right from your student ID card.
Lastly, now’s the time to think about credit cards. You’ll most likely be inundated with credit card offers when you arrive on campus, which can be a great resource, but can also get you into a lot of trouble. Think about whether or not you want to have a credit card, and what credit limit would be right for you so you can keep your spending in control. Talk with your parents about setting up an account for emergencies only.
Stock Up on the Essentials
At home, you’re probably used to having the basics-toothpaste, aspirin, band-aids-right down the hall from you. But these are the things you’ll miss the most when you’re coming down with a cold in the middle of the night and there’s 5 inches of snow outside your dorm room.
Start buying the basic things you’ll need, from toiletries to sheets to towels. If you watch for sales and purchase these items throughout the summer, you can save yourself a lot of last-minute, expensive panic shopping when you arrive on campus.
Buy Your School Supplies
School supplies are another great item to buy at your local Target or Costco during the summer months. Pens, notebooks, ink cartridges, and printer paper might not cost a lot at home, but the prices at most college book stores are extremely inflated. You can even watch online stores for bulk deals on the items you know you’ll use the most.
Look for Jobs
If you plan on working while you’re in school, start looking for and applying for jobs now. With the huge influx of students arriving on campus in September, the prime internships and jobs will get snapped up right away. So grab your lap top and check out job listings while you’re working on your tan. Your school’s jobs listings are a great place to start, especially if you’re getting a work study grant. Check out local newspapers and Craig’s list too.
Before you leave, don’t forget to polish on your resume and collect a list of references.
For more tips and advice on starting college, check out this college life page.