Starting college this fall? Preparation is about more than choosing where to go and how to pay for it

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If you’re heading off to college this fall, there’s going to be one hundred and one things that need doing (not to mention the need to pick a fabulous outfit for your prom). When you arrive at college, you’re likely to step headlong into a whirlwind of places to go, forms to sign, and parties to rock. It’s undoubtedly a fun time, but one that needs a pretty significant amount of preparation if you want to be in with a chance of a smooth transition period. You’ll probably be making a final decision on which school to attend next month (if you haven’t done so already), so the time you have to prepare for college is decreasing rapidly. Hopefully you will have made significant inroads into finalizing your financial aid package by now too, so let’s take a look at the other preparations you should be making.

As soon as you have decided which school you will be attending, you should set about familiarizing yourself with your future new home. In the first instance this means finding out what housing options are available to you and deciding whether you want to live on or off campus. The choice you make in regard to your housing will lead you to consider other factors such as whether you’ll need a car and if so where will you park and how much will it cost to insure it? You might decide you can get away with just taking a bike (the greener, healthier, and much cheaper option). If you go down the bike route, you’ll want to find out whether there is somewhere safe to store it while you’re attending classes.

By the time you’ve got those practicalities boxed off, you’ll probably be heading toward summer and the pace at which you need to prepare is likely to pick up again. Aim to enroll at college as soon as you possibly can and be sure to book a place on a summer orientation class. There might even be a freshman orientation class that you can attend. Going to these orientation sessions and taking a tour of your college will make the transition process easier when you start college and will mean you can find your feet far quicker than if you had given them a miss. During these sessions you might be able to find out who your roommate will be. Being able to coordinate with this person over the summer is priceless as not only will it mean that you already have a friend when you arrive at college, there are potential cost savings to be made as you can maybe arrange to split the cost of big ticket items such as a refrigerator, stereo, microwave etc. You might each agree to get a few things off the essentials list (which  by the way, you should have made already!).

You’ll want to create a student budget well before you go to college. Either that or you run the risk of thinking you’re actually rich at the start of term and blowing the lot. Let’s be clear; you’re not rich – that seemingly large amount of cash you’ve got when you start college actually has to last. Start as you mean to go on and create a sensible budget to cover the whole academic year. When you’ve finished your budget, you’ll know how much you can spend on items before you get there, so head off to do your essential shopping.

Starting college is undoubtedly a life changer. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed, bewildered, or lonely (or all three) in the early days. By putting in the proper preparation before you get there, you can forget about the necessities (you’ve already got them covered) and focus on settling in to your new home properly. All that should really be left for you to do at this point is for you to get stuck in!

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