It’s never too early to start preparing yourself for college life—whether you are still in high school or you’re packing to leave for your first year away from home. Transitioning to life on campus is one of the most memorable experiences you will ever have. To ensure you are ready to take your higher education by storm, follow our six tips to get ready.
1. Think About Finances
College is expensive. We’re guessing you’re not a millionaire (yet), so the money for school will have to come from someplace. First, talk to your parents to find out what portion they might be able to help with and what you will be responsible for. Then, set up a plan to reach your financial goals.
Getting a part-time job and a savings account is the most proactive solution. However, you should also begin actively looking into scholarship opportunities and your options for financial aid well before senior year.
2. Do Your Best Academic Work
Although this may seem obvious, your grades are the most significant determining factor for getting accepted to the college of your choice. Additionally, they also often come into play when it comes to student aid and scholarships. Do the best work you can and then try even harder. If you feel you could have done better on your SAT or ACT exams and you have the chance to retake them, do it.
3. Work on Your Social Skills
Nobody is asking you to become an overnight extrovert, but if you tend to lean more towards wallflower than social butterfly, you should practice branching out. Communication is the glue that holds everything together. That won’t change throughout life. Your relationships (or lack thereof) with your fellow students, professors, and others all depend upon a connection.
To improve your social abilities, start raising your hand more often in class. Ask and answer questions and stop worrying about what others think of you. If you want and need something, you will need to speak up. Remember the old saying: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
4. Develop a System to Manage Your Time
If you think you are overwhelmed with activities now, college will be a whole new realm for you. Not only will your plate be pretty full, but you also won’t have parents and teachers telling you what to do and when to do it. With this newfound freedom comes the considerable responsibility of managing your own time. Get in the habit now of setting your own schedule. Buy a planner or use a time management app to block out time for sleep, school, work, and play. Your future self will thank you for the self-discipline.
5. Find out More About Your Future Home
You probably take for granted many of the things available to you right now, but when you get to college, everything will be new. Do you know where to go if you need to get your cell phone fixed? If you get sick, where is the nearest pharmacy? Maybe you are craving fast food, and nothing else will do.
Familiarizing yourself with your new surroundings before you arrive will help give you some peace of mind. Instead of going in blind, you will have a helpful list of resources and services to avail yourself of from day one.
While you are researching your town, check out student services at school as well. Read through all of the programs and perks the school offers. Then, make a mental note of those that might come in handy down the road.
6. Keep an Open Mind
A lot will change over the next four years. College is all about mind-expanding experiences. You will be learning about yourself and what you want out of life. You will also be meeting many people from different cultures and with different worldviews.
Prepare yourself for new experiences by doing something you have never done. Watch a foreign film, wear something outlandish, attend a town council meeting. It doesn’t really matter what you choose as long as it is something you would not have considered before. You will likely wind up with some new thoughts to go along with the experience.
Expanding your thoughts is the name of the game. There is so much more than what you have had in front of you up to now. Be open to new ways of thinking about and doing things. This expansion will serve you well as you prepare for the full growth experience that college life will bring.
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