Five “Must Do” Steps Before You Start College

college student

It’s summer and all you can think about is the big road trip you have planned. But before you head out to enjoy the sun, take a few steps to start college off right.

Make sure your financial aid is lined up. Check the status of your FAFSA and call your school’s financial aid office to make sure any loans or scholarships have been processed. Also, talk with your parents about their expectations about what you will pay for and what they will pay for. This is an important step to avoid any issues down the road. Then create a budget for yourself. Tip: Many credit card companies are quick to give away credit cards to new college students. However, it’s easy to get in over your head with “plastic” so be careful. Do your research to find the best credit card offer, and be sure to pay off the balance as soon as you can to avoid late fees or excess charges.

Register for classes. Believe me, you do not want to wait until the last minute to do this. The best classes fill up quickly, so check out the course catalog online, check out the general education requirements, look at what class times are best for you, and register. Once you’ve registered, create an online calendar to help you keep track of classes and to book study times for each class. This is one way to help you manage your time from the moment you start classes.

Reach out to your future roommate. Whether you can meet in-person or just by text, it’s a good idea to get to know each other before you actually start living together. You don’t need to become best friends, but it’s good to have a conversation to learn a bit about one another. This is also a good time to talk about logistics, such as learning about each other’s class schedules and who’s bringing what to campus.

Visit your doctor. You’ll most likely need to get a physical and get new vaccinations before you go to college. Take the opportunity to talk with your doctor about ways to stay healthy while in college. A good physician should talk with you openly about things like eating right, staying fit, and ways to stay safe. They should have lots of tips for you!

Get on LinkedIn. I know, it doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing to do over the summer, but on the next rainy day, spend an hour or so setting up your LinkedIn account. After all, you’re going to college so you can get a great job, so why not start off on the right foot and begin your professional presence online. Just filling out the profile will give you an idea of the type of information employers are looking for, and will help you start preparing for your future career. Once you have your profile set up, you can start making connections! Ask friends, teachers, and others to connect with you on LinkedIn. As you start to gain professional experience – even if it’s part-time work or volunteer work – ask your manager to recommend you on LinkedIn.

[photo courtesy of A. Feldmann]