Personally, I forgot about having to go to college after graduating high school. I got so into Senior Week activities and actually graduating, that I didn’t realize that I’d be going to college after the summer ends. It didn’t truly hit me until I had to attend Freshman Orientation in mid-June. After going to orientation, I was so freaked out about surviving my first semester of college that I fully invested myself in making the most of my summer. So now, I’m not saying you should be freaked out about starting college. You should be excited! While it might take some adjusting at first, you’ll figure it out. However, before you officially embark on your college journey, here’s a few things you should do before your summer before college starts.

Note: We realize that due to the pandemic with restrictions in certain states and areas, some or many of these ideas may not be possible to do. Many of these ideas can be converted into online options, though!

1. Go to Your Favorite Restaurant – In high school, my friends and I loved going to Chilis. The week before we all went away to college, I think we went to Chilis everyday! We celebrated birthdays that took place in September, ordered our favorite meals, and came back the next day to treat ourselves to desert. If this restaurant isn’t open for dining, you can always order in!

2. Have a Going Away Party – If you’re going away to school, a going away party is a great way to not say goodbye to your friends and family, but see you later. One of my friends had a Going Away Party a week before we started college and it was great to see all of my friends in place at the same time. It was a great way to make some final memories before we all went away to college for the fall. In fact, my friend and I still laugh about the amount of mosquito bites we got that night because they made our legs look gross one our first day as college students! Depending on the circumstances in your area, you could have a going away party on one of the many video conferencing platforms or apps.

3. Reach Out To Your Roomie – If you’re dorming, you should know who your roommate is by the start of your summer vacation. I had originally planned to dorm at my college before officially cancelling my dorm reservation a few weeks later. However, I was able to get to know my roomie pretty well over the summer. Although we didn’t keep in touch, getting to know my roommate ahead of time allowed me to be less anxious about meeting new people when I started college in the fall. Reach out online and try to have a conversation via a video conferencing app!

4. Make an Appointment With Your Doctor – While this was not on the top of my list, I found it very important to make an appointment with my doctor before starting college. This is especially important if you’re going away to college. You’ll want to make sure your vaccines are up to date and you will want to ask your doctor on how to go about getting prescriptions when you’re away at college. A video appointment may be advisable at this time.

5. Have a Garage Sale – If you’re going away to college, you may want to think about selling some of the stuff you no longer use. Let’s be honest, if you haven’t worn a dress since your Freshman year of high school, you probably won’t be wearing it your Freshman year of college! A great thing about garage sales is that they allow you to downsize and they provide you with a little extra money to buy things you’re really going to need like textbooks. 

If you’re not into garage sales or are unable to have one — I’m not much a garage sale person myself — you can try selling your things online via apps such as Poshmark, eBay, or even Facebook Marketplace! 

6. Dorm Room Shopping! – If you’re going away for college, you may want to start thinking about what to buy for your dorm room. If you have one or more roommates, make sure you collaborate with them and decided what each of you is bringing. Dorm room shopping can get expensive so make sure to check out your local thrift stores for furniture you can reuse in your dorm. Or, check out you university’s Facebook page. You can find plenty of graduated seniors who are looking to get rid of their furniture now that they are no longer university students. Online shopping could be a good way to look for what you want and have it shipped directly to your dorm.

7. Visit Your Favorite Spot – While you should already visit your favorite restaurant, you should also plan to visit your favorite hangout sport. My friends and I had a lot places we hung out during high school from each other’s basements to our local forest preserve. Try to hang out one last time before you all go away to college. And remember, this is not the final time you’re hanging out, you can totally see your friends again during semester breaks! 

8. Money/Credit Card/Debit Card – Budgeting and making sure you’re financially secure when you’re away in college is crucial. If you don’t yet have a credit card or debit card, I would highly advise you discuss options with your parents. Some schools recommend banks where you can set up accounts but, if you’re able to work something out with your parents, it’s always a safer bet especially when it comes to money! 

9. High School Transcript – This is extremely important because my high school transcript was almost the reason I wasn’t able to start classes at my university. By high school transcript, I don’t mean grades. I mean, make sure your high school sent your transcript to your college! I had a slew of different counselors my senior year of high school and it turned out none of them ever sent my transcript to my university. It wasn’t until I decided to randomly email my college advisor one summer morning that I learned they had not received my final high school transcript yet. That’s when I had to rush down to my high school and tell a new counselor about my situation. Thankfully, my university received my transcripts before the semester started but make sure to stay on top of this! 

10. Register for Classes – Ahh, class registration time. I was honestly very confused by the class registration process because I couldn’t believe adults trusted me to pick my own classes! Of course, that’s when I realized, I’m an adult now too. When registering for classes, be aware of your credit requirements. These differ based on major. Try to register for courses that fulfill your general education requirements. This means, don’t register for five creative arts classes or five science courses (of course, maybe your major is science and you may be required to take that many courses in a semester). Basically, as a first semester student, try to keep a balance of different subject areas. This is especially helpful if you’re still exploring what major you want to pursue!

Come back to the Future Blog for more articles on college and career success!