The transition to college life is looming. In the movies, kids show up to their spacious dorm rooms with a few suitcases and transform the place into a magical wonderland. The reality is a bit different.
See, moving to college isn’t just about the stuff you need. It’s about the process you go through — all the ways you’ll change once you're surrounded by new people in a new environment. And that’s not small stuff.
So let’s take a look at some college preparation checklists you won’t find everywhere else!
Here’s how to get yourself emotionally ready for college:
Identify your goals (academic, social, personal).
List your personal beliefs and morals so you ensure the choices you make in college align with who you are.
Know what activities recharge you and make plans to continue those at school by looking into groups and activities on or near campus. Check out student life pages on the college website and meetup groups in the local area. Follow social media accounts for different clubs and interests.
Build your confidence by making a list of all your accomplishments. Get your friends and family to tell you something they think is exceptional about you.
Spend one-on-one time with family members.
Spend one-on-one time with good friends.
Decide how you’ll continue to communicate with friends and family while you’re at school.
Take a spontaneous trip and experience what it’s like to do something unexpected.
Plan how you’ll continue to practice your religion/faith/spirituality away from home.
Accept that you’ll change because of your new experiences. Remember, sometimes change can feel uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad.
If you’ve had a summer job or a part-time gig while in high school, you probably have a handle on financial planning. But moving away to college may be the first time in your life that you’re making daily financial decisions on your own.
Living on a budget isn’t impossible, but it’s easier if you’ve done some planning before you head off on your own. Here’s how to prep while you still have some support at home:
With your mind and your wallet set right, it’s time to get your brain in college preparation mode. The actual process of leaving your family home, moving into your dorm, gathering all your supplies, meeting new people, attending welcome events, and getting to classes on time can be stressful.
Here are some tips to make move-in feel less like a juggling act and more like an event to remember:
Tour the dorms before move-in day, if possible.
Contact your roommate way ahead of time and decide who’s bringing what.
Look into stores that ship to dorms so you don’t have to pack items like bedding and refrigerators.
Plan for weather during moving. Bring lots of water if it'll be hot and tarps if the forecast calls for rain.
Get to the dorms as soon as you can on Arrival Day. Parking can get messy.
Bring snacks to help you power through the move.
Accept your family’s help to move in and arrange the room. This will give you more time to say goodbye and to attend Welcome Week events.
Pack as light as possible, but know your situation. If you’re at a rural school without a car, you’ll want to bring all the small items you can think of. If you’re at a school in the city, close to your parents, or have a car, it'll be easier to pick things up as needed.
Carol Katarsky is a contributing writer for Nitro. She is an award-winning journalist with extensive experience writing about both finance and education. Her corporate and non-profit clients include AIG, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the Project Management Institute. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, son, and one cat more than she should. Read more by Carol Katarsky