The summer before freshman year can be a time of both excitement and nervousness for students and their families. You are not alone. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 70 percent of high school graduates are college bound each year. Smart preparation can help smooth the transition and ensure a successful start to your college career.
Once high school graduation is over, you might be tempted to lounge around and enjoy the days of freedom. However, being academically prepared for that first semester is essential. You might be able to find out which textbooks you will need and purchase them online. Although you will not know your full class schedule until registration, reading lists for many freshman-level courses will be available in advance of the start of the semester. Brushing up on language and math skills is also helpful. Make sure your computer software is up to date.
Getting your finances in order requires discussing your budget with your parents. Be clear about how much tuition assistance they will be providing and whether they will add a spending allowance for books and personal needs. In preparation for your move, open a checking account at a bank in your new community; according to Forbes magazine, many banks offer special rates on checking services for colleges students. Your financial aid office can tell you whether your funds will be ready on the first day of school. A summer job will help you prepare for unexpected expenses.
Your new school will likely require a current vaccination record before you can enroll, so make an appointment for a full physical. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many schools require incoming students to be vaccinated against meningitis to protect dorm residents from infection. This is also a good time to fit in visits with the dentist and eye doctor. Staying physically active during the summer will help you maintain conditioning and keep your weight under control.
Summer is the time to take a hard look at your belongings and decide what you can live without. Since the average dorm room is only about 200 square feet, plan to pack conservatively. You may be able to reserve a loft and refrigerator for your dorm room, depending on your school. If you intend to bring a car, make sure to have routine maintenance performed before you hit the road.
Set aside time to visit with friends, family and pets before you leave home. Although leaving comfortable people and surroundings can be wrenching, you can ease the transition by establishing a support system at your new school before arrival. Email your roommate and join your college's social network. Get to know the town by visiting before orientation. Scout out locations of restaurants and stores. These efforts can go a long way toward making your new environment seem familiar and less intimidating.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: College Enrollment and Work Activity of 2011 High School Graduates
- Forbes: 9 Great Checking Accounts for College Students
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Adult Vaccination: College Students and Young Adults (19 to 26 Years Old)
- Today's Homeowner: Tips for Moving Into a College Dorm Room
Debra Charlton is a theater director and educator with expertise in Shakespearean production and performance. She holds a doctorate in theater history and criticism from the University of Texas at Austin. Charlton is the author of "Holistic Shakespeare: An Experiential Learning Approach," as well as numerous articles on theater, performance and pedagogy.