Things to Do during the Summer before College
The summer before college can be a time to unwind from the stress of college admissions. But, it is also a good time to prepare for the transition to college life.
After you submit the housing forms and pay the housing deposit, you may be assigned a roommate. Some colleges wait until students arrive on campus to match them with roommates. Connect with your new roommate. Friend them on Facebook, contact them by email and talk or text on the phone. Get to know them, but also coordinate who will bring what to the dorm room. Discuss rules concerning noise, sleep time and visitors, which can be a potential source of conflicts.
Next, it is time to go shopping. Get some dorm room furnishings, such as bedding, a microwave oven, a toaster oven, a mini fridge and a study lamp. Buy some college clothing, including at least one set of professional attire (dress to impress) for internships and formal settings.
Check whether the college has any minimum requirements for a computer (e.g., is it a Mac or PC environment) and whether the campus bookstore has any special discounts. Then get a computer, laptop and/or tablet that has wireless and wired network capabilities, and a web cam. The web cam will come in handy when you talk to your parents. Get a high capacity USB stick for backing up your computer. Buy a good laptop lock, so your computer doesn’t disappear from your dorm room when you aren’t looking. All it takes is 5-10 minutes of inattention for your stuff to walk out the door.
Spend time with your parents before you leave. They are going to miss you and you will miss them. Schedule a time for a regular phone call or video chat. Once a week should be sufficient. You can communicate with them by email in between the weekly check-in. Keep them in the loop on your academic performance and other happenings. They are, after all, paying for your education. Plus, they want to relive their college years through you.
Start a resume, so you can keep track of your accomplishments as they occur. It is a lot easier to update this document on an ongoing basis than to write a resume from scratch after years have passed. Set up a LinkedIn account if you don’t already have one. It can help you get summer jobs and internships.
Speaking of summer jobs, the summer before college is a great time to get a part-time job to help you earn money to pay for college. You can earn up to about $6,400 without affecting your financial aid. A summer job or internship can also provide experience, which will help you get a job after you graduate from college.
Summer is the right time to start shopping around for student loans. You should always borrow federal first, since federal student loans are cheaper and have better repayment terms. But, if you’ve exhausted the Federal Stafford loan limits and still need more money, you may wish to borrow private student loans to pay the college bills.
Continue searching for scholarships, as there are some college scholarships that you can apply for only after you are enrolled in college.
The Credit CARD Act of 2009 set restrictions on your ability to get a credit card on your own, so talk with your parents about getting a credit card. Some college students make do with a debit card instead. Either way, you’ll need to set up a bank account with a branch or ATM near campus.
Get organized. Note key dates in your calendar, such as the registration due date, new student orientation, the start and end of classes and the drop date. List all deadlines in your calendar, with reminders a week or two in advance.
Don’t forget to have your final high school transcripts sent to the college. Submit your AP and IB test scores so you can get college credit. Respond promptly to all requests from the financial aid office, especially in regard to verification.
Visit the college’s web site. Look at the majors and course offerings. Try to plan out the classes you’ll take each term from matriculation to graduation, taking prerequisite requirements and class schedules into account. Register for your classes as soon as possible, since popular classes will fill up quickly. Some classes have summer reading assignments.
Just as you would take your car in for servicing before a big road trip, visit your doctor and dentist for a checkup and to update any vaccines. If you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, visit the eye doctor to update your prescription. Review your health insurance status, especially in consideration of potential changes in health care laws. Get a haircut a few weeks before you leave for college.
Look up information about the college town online. Learn about the public transportation system, if any. (Some colleges provide discounted or free access to the local public transportation system.) Make a list of restaurants to check out and entertainment venues.
Now is the time to acquire the life skills you’ve been neglecting. Learn how to do your own laundry. Learn basic cooking skills, such as how to boil water, make a sandwich, cook eggs (scrambled and hard-boiled and how to prepare spaghetti, all without hurting yourself in the process. Ask your parents for money management tips and help creating a budget.