How to Prepare for College out of State

If you are one of the thousands of first-year students getting ready to travel to a college far from home, you are probably both excited and anxious about the move. While you are looking forward to experiencing new things, it can be hard to leave your familiar surroundings. In this article, we have some helpful suggestions to help you prepare for college out of state. This way, when the big day arrives, you will be ready to meet the challenge with enthusiasm rather than stress.

1. Become Familiar With the Weather

If you are traveling even a few hours from home, the climate may be drastically different than what you are accustomed to. To make sure you are ready for the changes in the weather, do your research ahead of time.

You might try logging on to one of your school’s social media sites and asking current students about the climate and what you should be ready for. If you grew up in Maine and are getting ready to attend college in Florida, you will need to make sure you have clothes to help you stay cool.

If, however, you are leaving Texas to attend school in New Hampshire, you are going to want some high-quality winter gear. A warm parka, some snow boots, gloves, and a wool hat will see you through the chilliest of days on campus.

Consider any medical issues you have as well. If you are prone to allergies or asthma, make sure you bring extra medication and inhalers. A new region is likely to have flora and fauna you are not accustomed too, which could trigger an allergic episode.

2. Figure out Your Transportation Options

If you will be going home frequently during the school year, you should find out precisely what sort of transportation will be available and at what cost. Check out every avenue—from trains to buses to air travel. Look over the schedules and fees well in advance, so you get a general idea of how to budget and plan your time.

If you plan to fly, sign up for a frequent flyer account or travel rewards program with your credit card. Amtrak and some bus companies also offer discounts and rewards programs you might be able to take advantage of as well.

Try to set aside enough money for at least one emergency flight home. This can help calm your nerves when you are feeling homesick or concerned about the health of a loved one. Having the money already set aside will make you realize you are not trapped and can leave anytime you need to. Sometimes this type of security is all you need for some additional peace of mind.

3. Get to Know Your New Town

One of the best ways to acclimate to a new environment is to learn all the ins and outs of a place. Exploring a new town or city can be enormous fun, and it doesn’t even have to cost much. If public transportation is an option, hop on a bus and take a ride around the area, taking note of particular places of interest you might want to return to.

Check out the local eateries, coffee shops, and stores to see what is available. Take a walk in a park or visit the library and public buildings. If you meet a friendly face, start up a conversation. others know you are from “away” and find out what local residents like to do in their spare time. You may even find a new hobby to try out like ice fishing or bingo!

Make a note of any festivals, fairs, or upcoming events. If you find yourself interested, schedule a time to attend. Maybe you have never been to a model railroad show or a holiday bazaar at the local church. You never know what you might like until you try something new. 

4. Build a Support Network

If you have friends or family in the area of your school, reach out and connect with them as soon as possible. Knowing you have a familiar face nearby can help you feel more secure. If you don’t know anyone, do your best to make some friends among other incoming students. Join a club right away or say hello and get to know the person next to you. Eventually, you will find yourself with some contacts that you will look forward to seeing regularly.

If you find yourself homesick or have trouble making friends at school, consider attending a local place of worship or social organization to meet people. They will likely be just as eager to see a new face among them as you are to build your support network.

Don’t forget it is normal to feel a little homesick. It’s OK to let your family and friends at home know how you are feeling and ask for a bit of help. Maybe they can send you a care package or schedule an overnight visit to bolster your spirits.

Finally, traveling any distance to go to college can seem a little intimidating at first. However, if you know what to expect, you can arm yourself with ways to make the transition easier. By being proactive and utilizing a few of the tips on our list, you can be prepared for college away from home before you even cross state lines.