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To-Do: College Prep

As you quickly approach your freshman year at college, take some time to be ready for your new independence.

Take Care of Business

  • If you haven't already, log in to your school's website to view your financial aid package, residence and dining contracts, and class schedule. Check for emails periodically.
  • If you didn't do one this summer, sign up for and attend a freshman orientation.
  • Make sure you understand your financial aid package and take any action necessary. If you don't need all the loans offered to you, decline the extra. Remember, you'll have to pay back anything you borrow, plus interest, so don't take any loans you can get by without.
  • If you have scholarships, check the procedures for receiving the money, as well as any requirements, such as a minimum GPA, for renewal.
  • Get any vaccines you need, and ensure you have a copy of your health insurance card.
  • Memorize your Social Security and student numbers.
  • Determine how to get a parking pass, a student ID, and athletic or event tickets.
  • If you're planning to work part-time, check out the job opportunities on and off campus.
  • Make a budget for the year, taking into account anticipated expenses, financial aid and any earnings.
  • If you're going to need more money, research private student loans and apply for the minimal loan amount you'll need.

Become Self-Sufficient

  • Learn how to do laundry.
  • If you'll have a car on campus, understand basic maintenance and determine when and where to get that done. Also, make sure you have a copy of your registration and auto insurance card.
  • Know how to fill prescriptions and schedule appointments.
  • Practice shopping for groceries and necessities on a budget.
  • Look for a calendar system—whether paper or electronic—that will work for you.
  • Learn about the resources available on campus—academic, medical, fitness, safety and IT—and know how to access them.

Practice Your Social Skills

  • Contact your roommate. Find out personal preferences, as well as who will bring what for the room.
  • Start becoming comfortable talking to strangers of all ages. You will need to have face-to-face conversations with professors and advisers, as well as your peers.
  • Discover what you can about the campus and the community before you go, and take any chances to learn your way around.
  • Check out welcome week activities. Choose at least a few that pique your interest.

Get What You Need

  • Check the orientation materials or school website for a list of recommended items and supplies, as well as those that are not needed on your campus.
  • Practice your budgeting and planning skills by determining where to get the lowest prices on what you need and whether to bring items with you or buy them later.

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