Spend Your Summer Wisely Before Heading Off to College!
written by: Lisa Phelps for Student Choice
The summer before your freshman year of college you’ll probably be hit with a variety of feelings: excited, nervous, overwhelmed, busy, sad, and maybe even a little lost. You’re on the verge of a whole new life, yet still firmly planted in your old one. The best advice? Embrace it all and enjoy each day as it comes. Have a great time, but keep an eye on the things you need to accomplish before you pack up your old room and move into a dorm.
Here are a few tips on things you should do over this pivotal summer vacation to ease the transition to life at college:
Attend your freshmen orientation
When my daughter started college a few years ago, she spent two days on campus meeting with her academic adviser, touring the buildings, registering for classes and most importantly, meeting other students. She immediately hit it off with one of the very first girls she met and they stayed in touch throughout the summer. When she arrived on campus in August, she already had a good friend with whom she could hang out, go to the dining hall, and navigate the unfamiliar waters of college. It made it much easier for her to adjust to her new life.
Get a summer job
Earning money to help pay for college expenses will make your life a lot less stressful. A little hard work now can mean you’ll have to pay back less student loans and less interest in the future.
Figure out your finances
Sit down with your parents or even a teacher and figure out what you’ll have to spend each month so you’re not broke and eating Ramen noodles every night (unless you choose to of course). Check out this handy budgeting checklist to help with your planning.
Choose a financial institution
Choosing a place to help you handle your money is a big decision. Did you know that lots of colleges have credit unions on campus to help you with just that?
Don’t know what a credit union is or where to find one? Check out our CU Select Tool to find a credit union in your area and you’ll soon see the difference.
Choosing the right checking and savings account, ATM/debit/credit card can seem tricky. Shop around and consider whether you want to have an account close to home or near the school you’ll be attending. If your parents are going to be making frequent deposits into your account, make sure the credit union offers convenient online services or can accept transfers from other credit unions (often called Shared Branching).
Whether you’ll be living on campus in a dorm, off campus in an apartment, or commuting from your parents house, adding your style to your room can make a big difference – even if it’s just sprucing up your room at home. You’ll need bedding, lamps, storage units, bath supplies, and maybe even some new technology. Look for sales and spread out your purchases over the summer. Stores like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond have checklists you can pick up when you enter the store. You do not need to buy everything on the list, but it’s a good starting point for things to consider purchasing. It can even be a little fun if you budget yourself!
Write a resume
If you’re planning to have a job at school – either work study or something off campus – have your resume ready to go when you arrive. You can start contacting employers right before you get to school so you’ll have some interviews set up as soon as you arrive on campus. A handy tip is to write down all your references’ info on a card a take it with you – this will make filling out job applications much easier!
Contact your roommate
The first phone call might be a bit awkward, but it’s a good idea to talk about what you’re each bringing to school to make sure it will all fit in your room. Friending them on Facebook or following their Twitter feed are good ways to learn more about them. Don’t let first impressions scare you and remember, they are as nervous as you are.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and so many more networks are great ways to connect with other students and professors at your school. Groups related to your college or university makes connecting and becoming part of a community easy and will help you feel more a part of the group.
Just like anything else in life, the more prepared you are, the better off you’ll be. Adjusting to living on your own, getting used to a roommate, navigating classes and managing your time is a lot to handle. Increase your chances of success by doing as much as you can over the summer.
Still need help with your finances or getting a loan to pay for school? Find a credit union to help by clicking below: