What You Can Do Right Now to Make Sure You’re Campus Ready
If you’re a sophomore, junior, or senior in high school, chances are good that you’ve got about a million things on your mind when it comes to planning for the future. Will you go to college, an out-of-state university, a trade school? Will you go directly into your career field or take time out for a mission or other important work first? Will you stay at home with your parents or venture out on your own?
All of these questions—and their respective answers—play a huge role in how you’ll move forward. In this post, we’ll talk about the college experience and all the things you can start doing right now to make things easier during your senior year and beyond. That way, when it’s time to make the leap to college, you’ll be ready. All it takes is a little bit of planning ahead of time, and you’ll be prepared and confident to take on whatever campus you’ve set your sites on!
What to Know Before You Go
It’s easy to trick yourself into thinking you’ve got plenty of time, but it’s funny how time flies by—especially during your junior and senior years of high school when you’re focused on making great grades (and memories). Don’t blink, because before you know it, graduation will be here, and you’re gonna need a plan!
Here’s what to start thinking about before you head off to college. Remember the old adage that “Knowledge is power”? It’s true. Focus on gathering information about ALL THE THINGS! The more you know before you go, the more comfortable you’ll feel…and the fewer roadblocks you’ll run into at the last minute.
Here are some things you can do ahead of time:
- Research your top college choices. It’s really fun to visit your top campus selections and get to know the specific schools of study at each location. Plus, when you visit your top schools, you’ll get a feel for what it would really be like to be a student there.
- Know your financial options. One of the biggest decisions regarding college choice revolves around cost and financial aid. Start this process early and stay on top of it to ensure everything is completed successfully and on time so you can go where you want to go.
- Know where you’ll stay and where you’ll eat. We’ll get into dorm life a little more below, but another crucial item on your list should be what you’ll eat! After all, you have to have some way to energize all that brain power you’ll be using, right? Look into your college’s cafeteria plan and check to see if there are restaurants on campus that accept your campus ID as payment and later bill it to your account.
- Know the weather, local restaurants, and shopping opportunities. If you’re planning on studying far from home, be sure to get to know the lay of the land! What’s the weather like? Will you need more cold-weather gear? Are you going to a small town with fewer shopping opportunites? If so, you may need to take more of the essentials along with you than you thought.
- Know who to call and where to go. If you’re away from everything that’s familiar, one of the first things you’ll want to learn is where to go in case of emergency. Every campus offers medical services for illnesses and minor injuries, but you’ll want to know where to go if you get sick, need to fill a prescription, or need to get a filling in a sore tooth.
What to Do Before You Go
The journey from high school to college is exciting, but it can also be stressful. You can leave the stress behind and focus on all the good stuff with just a little planning and some forward thinking. If you knock out some of the time-consuming tasks, you’ll have more time to settle in and get used to your new college life when you get there.
Here are a few things you can start working on ahead of time:
- Practice study skills and brush up on time management. In combination, these two things can make or break your success in college! When you leave high school, you’ll be saying good-bye to all the reminders from teachers and parents, and you’ll be the one in charge of making sure you are successful.
- Take advantage of college credits early. If possible, take classes that count for college credit to give yourself a bit of a head start on all the hard work that’s in front of you.
- Rock those SAT and ACT scores. They matter. Seriously. And don’t be afraid to take your exams twice…or even thrice if it means you’ll land a better college spot or get more money for your scores!
- Get experience and take advantage of internships. Colleges love seeing you take initiative and participate in activities that will help others and help you progress in your chosen field. Be open to new opportunities and don’t be afraid to share your success on your college applications!
- Get your financials in order. Be sure you fill out the FAFSA and any other financial aid paperwork you need to take care of. And don’t neglect scholarship opportunities! There are hundreds of them hiding out there, and some of them will be right up your alley. Don’t let any financial aid opportunities pass you by!
- Start saving money. Everyone jokes about broke college kids, but it’s pretty close to the truth! Gone are the days that mom and dad are right there in the kitchen ready to hand you a spare $20 before you head out the door. Sure, you’ll still have your support system, but things are a little different when you’re living on your own. If you already have a part-time job, practice saving your money and stretching it so it lasts. You never know when you’ll need an emergency cup of coffee to get through that next exam!
Connect with Roomies Before You Go
Once you’ve figured out what college you’re going to and you’ve gotten everything lined out financially, it’s time for some fun stuff! Start thinking about where you’ll be living, who you’ll be sharing a living space with, and how you’ll furnish your digs.
This is a great chance to reach out and get to know future roommates. After all, they are the people you’ll be spending a LOT of time with!
Here are some ideas:
- Decide where you’ll live. Will you stay in a dorm, an apartment, or another rental property? As a freshman, you’ll likely be required to live in the dorm, and the great thing about that is that you’ll soon get your room assignment AND information about your roomie. Wherever you live, be ready to reach out and build friendships because that will make your life at college fun!
- Connect with your roommate and suitemates. Student housing may give you contact information for your roomie and suitemates, but if you only get their names, you may have to do a little online searching on social media to find them. Not only does this give you a chance to get to know each other and start building friendships, it also lets you start planning your living space. Create a group chat or arrange video calls, and before long, you’ll feel like you’ve known each other forever.
- Decide who will bring certain essentials. If you’re bringing towels, maybe your roommate can bring bathmats. Or if you have a full-length mirror, maybe your suitemates can bring a microwave. However you pool your resources, it’s a great way to save money and start working together on your shared space.
- Learn likes and dislikes. If you start talking to each other ahead of time and learning things like little pet peeves and irritants, you can avoid roomie arguments that escalate into bigger ordeals than they need to be. Start laying the ground rules before any of you even move in, and you’re more likely to have a happy year living together.
- Define your alone time. This is especially important if you have a roommate who has a vastly different personality than yours. (It happens!) If you’re an introvert and your roomie is an extrovert who enjoys inviting 10 people at a time over to hang out, it’s essential to decide how you’ll separate your space and your time. Find a way to get alone time, yoga time, naptime…whatever time you need. And if this is exactly the opposite, be sure to be open-minded about your roomie’s needs, too. It’ll make for a happier, healthier year of co-existing!
You Got This, Grad
Sure, college is right around the corner, but everyone’s rooting for you. You’re smart and strong and ready! Take a few deep breaths, relax, and dive into your favorite sport or read your favorite book to ease the jitters. Enjoy every last moment of your high school career and know that AMAZING things are in store for you!
Whatever path you’ve chosen after high school, I have no doubt you’ll end up changing the world.
Just don’t forget these famous last words from moms everywhere:
“Fill your gas tank.” (Anything under half a tank is unacceptable.)
“Don’t forget to eat dinner.” (Sushi and chocolate milk from the gas station DO NOT count.)
“Study hard and go to all your classes.” (No, they don’t take attendance. This one’s on you.)
“Call your mom.” (Your mom WILL call campus police to locate you if you fail to call. This is way more embarrassing than simply picking up the phone.)
“Remember you can do anything.” (We’ll tell you that every time we get a chance.)