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    College To-Do List for High School Seniors

    The Pre-College To-Do list

    African-American parents helping daughter move

    So, high school’s now in the rear-view mirror, quickly fading away, and the next exit on the road of life is freshman year of college. Sounds fun, right? You’re away from home. Total freedom. You set your own hours. Come and go as you please. Hang out with friends into the wee hours of the morning. Yup, that’s about it.

    Hmmm, seems like we’re kinda forgetting something.

    Oh yeah… college.

    As in school.

    Heading off to college isn’t as simple as heading off for a weeklong vacation somewhere. You’re moving out. You’re moving on. But let’s not forget, you’re also going to be expected to attend classes, do homework and take (and pass) tests and exams.

    So, with all the fun that comes with college, there’s also a lot you’ve got to prepare for. And hopefully what we’ve gathered for you here will help out.

    Go to orientation.

    As smart as you think you are, and despite what some friends who precede you to college may tell you, orientation is still valuable. Despite being high school graduates, you still don’t know everything there is to know about the world, let alone a college or university you’ve never been to before in your life. Orientation is also where you might choose your first set of classes. It also gives you the chance to get to know some of your classmates. So, make some friends, get their numbers. You may make a friend for life.

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    Connect with your future roommate.

    You’re gonna be stuck together for at least your freshman year, so why not get to know them before your first day in the dorm. You might find that you actually have a bunch of things in common. At the very least it gives you a chance to set some “ground rules” about who gets which bunk, visitors, quiet/noise and lights out times. Some schools even require that you sign a contract with your future roommate.

    Get into a good routine.

    Staying out late all summer and then expecting your body to quickly readjust to waking up early for classes in the morning is a bad idea. Sure, you can still stay out late occasionally if you want. After all, it’s your last summer after high school, but don’t make a habit of it.

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    Organize your finances.

    Make sure your bank accounts and credit /debit card accounts are all set up. Including any online banking. Also, get your student loans, scholarships, and financial aid taken care of. And while you’re at it, you might want to reach an agreement with your parents about just who’s going to pay for what next year. From tuition, fees and books to gas and late-night pizzas.

    Get yourself checked up.

    A quick trip to the doctor is a good way to make sure you’re heading into your freshman year as healthy as can be. It’s also a good way to get some pointers from your doctor about how to take care of yourself now that you’re an adult. While colleges and universities do have campus health care the quality can vary pretty widely from one institution to the next.

    Shop for your dorm room.

    Yes, the big retailers always have their back-to-school sales every year where you can stock up on things like lamps, chairs and whatnot for your dorm room, but have you considered the local Goodwill (or whatever may be your town’s equivalent)? They’re a great place to find stuff that’s inexpensive, and quite frankly, not the same old stuff everyone else is showing up with.

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    Get a calendar or planner.

    Which is another way of saying “get yourself organized.” Mark down key academic dates: the start and end of classes, dates for finals, and vacation times. (You can find this on your school’s website.) Also, take time to assess your daily commitments (work, homework, etc.). Make sure your priorities are straight and you’ve got your support systems in place. You don’t want to have to juggle any more balls than you have to when trying to keep up with your course load.

    Take a self-defense class.

    You’re going to be on a campus that is, at first, unfamiliar to you. College can be a dangerous place. Even once you get to know which parts of town to avoid. So, take your safety seriously. Maybe look online to see if any martial arts studios are holding any summer classes, or if your local police department is offering any self-defense training.

    Save money from your summer job.

    Saving money, and not just blowing every paycheck you get, is something you need to get used to. You’re an adult now and you need to actually start saving for retirement. But first, from textbooks to late night pizza, college life can be expensive. Make sure you save money from your summer job to help cover those expenses, so you don’t have to bum money off of mom and dad all semester.

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    Finally, take time to spend with family and friends.

    Yes, part of college is learning how to leave the nest and be out on your own, and you’re probably really looking forward to it. But you might be surprised, unpleasantly, how much you begin to miss family and friends. They say most students begin to really start to feel homesick their third week away. So, make adjustments in your summer schedule so you can spend quality time with your family and friends before you leave for college. Depending on your schedule you may not be able to come home to visit as much as you thought you could.

    Most kids don’t know this, but parents are told during their own orientation that part of college is letting their children learn what it’s like to be on their own and that if their kids call for help, they should tell them to try and figure it out on their own first. (Don’t worry mom and dad will still be there for you if things seem bleak.)

    So, if you’ve read this far, you’re already a step ahead. You’ve listened (or in this case read.) Now, just take time to consider all this and then you decide what you’re going to do. After all, it’s your life. You’re a grown-up now.

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