The Summer Before College

The applications, essays, standardized exams, campus visits, and graduation day are all over and you have a couple months before it’s time to move into the dorms.  Now you’re left wondering how do you make the most of your summer before college.  It’s important that you enjoy your last summer, while also continuing to keep your college goals in sight.  Here’s some things you can focus on.

Get a Job. Aw man, you mean I can’t just sleep in everyday and play video games?  No, not exactly.  If you haven’t had a job before, now is the time to suck it up and get one.  The fact of the matter is that college is expensive!  No, you won’t be able to make thousands and thousands of dollars, but it is possible to make enough money to buy many of the items on yourdorm checklist, while also having a nice stash of cash in the bank to use as spending money during the school year.

I know this may seem like hard work, but you can do it!  How can I be so sure?  Because I did it!  The summer before my freshman year of college, I worked part-time at a local electronics store.  By the end of the summer I had earned enough money to purchase a 20 inch TV, alarm clock, new clothes, and a few other dorm accessories, in addition to adding a little over a thousand dollars to my savings account!

Where should you work?  It really doesn’t matter.  You’ve already been accepted into college, so we’re not using this job as an application booster.  You should search for jobs that pay relatively well and have flexible hours, but don’t be too picky.  You can do anything from babysitting for your next door neighbor to washing dishes at a local restaurant…just keep your eyes on the money.

Make time for friends. Although you’ll be pretty busy preparing for college, like many of your other classmates, you should try to make time for your high school friends.  Sadly, this is likely the last summer that you’ll see most of them so you should make the most of it.  From this point forward, you’ll be taking different paths and meeting new friends.  Try to do things in your hometown and enjoy the home life as much as possible.  Also, be sure to get contact information for your closest friends.  Exchange addresses and dorm information before you leave.

Call your roommate. Your college should send you additional details in the mail regarding move-in day and contact information for your roommate.  As soon as you receive this information, you should call your roommate.  It is important that your relationship with your roommate gets off to a good start.  This will give you time to get to know each other a little bit better before the big move-in day.

You should also coordinate with your roommate to figure out who’s bringing what.  You don’t want to end up with two microwaves, two refrigerators, two TVs, etc.  Not only is this impractical, your dorm room just won’t be big enough to accommodate all this extra stuff.

Create a Dorm Checklist. By now you should have contacted your roommate and figured out who’s bringing what.  The next step is to create your personalized dorm checklist.  This list should include everything you plan to bring with you.  Refer to my post: Dorm Checklistfor a comprehensive list of everything you’ll need to bring with you to campus.

Although this list is a good start, it’s important that you take this list and personalize it to meet your own individual needs.  Maybe you have specific medication that you’ll need to order before you leave or maybe you have a collection of baseball hats that you just can’t live without.  This is why it’s important that you take the dorm checklist and update it accordingly.  However, try not to over-pack.  Not only will you have a limited amount of space in your dorm, you’ll also want to purchase some new items throughout the school year so you want to make sure that you have enough space to put your new goodies.

Get your class schedule. Typically incoming college freshman get the opportunity to move into their dorms a few days to a week earlier than the other students.  This will give you time to get adjusted to campus before all the other more experienced students start flooding the campus.  This is also a great time for you to find out what buildings your fall classes will be held in.  In order to do this, you must have a print out of your class schedule handy.  You can usually print these out from the school’s website using your assigned user name and password.  Take this schedule and put it somewhere where it won’t get lost in all the chaos on move-in day.

Open a bank account. You’re a young adult now, so if you don’t have your own bank account yet…now would be a great time to open one.  You’ll need to learn how to manage your own money and survive without depending on your parents for everything.  Now if you find yourself in a crunch, mom and dad are only a phone call away, but you want to try to be as independent as possible your first year.

If you focus on these 6 things the summer before college, you’ll make the transition from your room at home to your dorm room on campus a lot less stressful.

Good luck!

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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