Congratulations, you’ve graduated from high school. Now, you’ve got just a few more weeks to soak up all that home has to offer before heading off to college.
The summer before college can be a transformative time in its own right. It’s a time to reflect, wrap up loose ends, and spend quality time with the people you love at the places you love one last time before heading off on your own.
At the same time, there are a number of tasks you’ll need to complete to make sure your transition to school goes as smoothly as possible. Here’s a simple checklist that can help ensure you make the most of your last summer before college.
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Now is the time to clear out the old so you can bring in the new. The bedroom is a good place to start.
Clear out your closet: Use the summer to clean out your closet and dresser and get rid of any clothing you may no longer need or want for college. Start by pulling every single item out and making a giant pile on the floor, separating the clothing into piles to keep, toss, and donate. Donating gently used items to a local charity or second-hand shop will help them find a second life.
Toss old academic work: Go through notebooks, binders, and bookbags, using the same sorting method as with clothing. Cleaning out your computer and deleting any files you no longer need — perhaps moving some to cloud storage — can allow you to enter college with a clean desktop and plenty of space on your hard drive.
Start packing: To make the moving process a little smoother, try organizing your items and packing slowly over the summer instead of cramming it all into one day. Creating boxes labeled as bedding, kitchen, bathroom, academic, and miscellaneous — maybe limiting the size of that particular box, though — then adding items as you’re organizing will make moving easier when the time comes.
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Cleaning up Your Social Media
Just like cleaning out your closet, it’s probably time to think about cleaning up your social media presence, too. You may have joined Facebook groups or liked pages that no longer reflect your interests or what you believe in.
On Twitter and Instagram, it may be a good idea to look back at your content to make sure what you’re sharing is appropriate for future employers to see. If not, you might want to consider deleting it.
Finally, think about your social media handles and your email address. If possible, it might be a good idea to use your full name or a combination of first initial and last name — something clean and simple. Potential employers will likely look at this information before hiring for summer internships or future jobs, so presenting yourself as a professional might pay off in the long run.
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Spending Quality Time With Your Family
Even though your parents may have sometimes embarrassed you through your high school years and your siblings may have annoyed you since you became siblings, you’ll probably still miss them when you head off to college. Use this time to make memories with your family so you have something fond to look back on if you’re ever homesick.
Over the summer, try creating family date nights. Play board games, cook together, go to your favorite restaurants, the movies, whatever makes you all happy. As a bonus, you’ll get to visit all your favorite hometown spots along the way, too.
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Connecting With Your New Roommate
If you’re living in a dorm in the fall, you likely already know who your roommate will be. You may want to use the few weeks before school begins to connect with them, via phone, text/email, Facetime, or, if possible, in-person.
Consider making a list of dorm room items that you can share, and try making a list of ground rules before you even move in. This could help alleviate any issues before they ever begin.
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Preparing Your Dorm Essentials
After chatting with your roommate and figuring out what you both need, it’s time to make a full list of dorm essentials. This list should include bedding, toiletries that fit into a basket to carry to and from shared bathrooms, a pair of slippers to use in common areas (including shower areas), and office supplies like pens, paper, notebooks, labels, rubber bands, scissors, and sticky notes.
You’ll now be responsible for doing your own laundry, so make sure to add on a laundry basket and detergent. The list can also include decorations such as desk lamps, a bulletin board, and any fun decor that fits your style.
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Becoming Familiar With Your College Town
You can get familiar with your new town even before you set foot in it by checking out local publications, including local news sites and your school’s newspaper. You might want to make a list of restaurants you want to try and local attractions you’d like to see.
You might also consider sharing the list with your new roommate so you can explore the town together.
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Registering for Classes
It could be prudent to check out class offerings before registration even opens. Familiarize yourself with the classes offered in your degree program, which ones are available to freshmen, and which electives you’d like to take. Make a list and have it handy for registration day.
Pro tip: Sign up for classes as soon as registration is open because popular classes may fill up fast.
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Checking out Your Professors Online
Once you’ve got your classes lined up, it’s time to check out your future professors. Doing a bit of online research on the people who will be teaching you could help identify any potential future mentors.
Getting to know professors can make asking for recommendations for internships and jobs easier. If they don’t know you well, it might be difficult for them to recommend you.
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Getting Your Finances in Order
It’s time for the most adult step of all. During the summer before college, it’s probably time to get your finances in order. If you don’t already have a checking account, it’s a good idea to open one, ideally at a bank that you can access easily while at school.
Now is also a good time to explore — and discuss with your family — how you will finance all four years of your college education. If savings, financial aid, and federal student loans are enough to fully cover the cost of your education, you might also consider using private student loans to fill in any gaps.
Private student loans are available through private lenders, including banks, credit unions, and online lenders. Rates and terms vary, depending on the lender. Unlike federal student loans, private student loans will require a credit check. Generally, borrowers (or cosigners) who have strong credit qualify for the lowest rates.
Keep in mind, though, that private loans may not offer the borrower protections — like income-based repayment plans and deferment or forbearance — that automatically come with federal student loans.
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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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