You graduated high school, and as you enter the hallowed halls of academia, you’re fully prepared to live off of Doritos, coffee and cold pizza for the next four years of college, right? Not so fast.
There’s plenty of planning to do this summer to ensure that your transition into college is not only smooth, but also all-around healthy.
Nothing makes you grow up faster than the word “paperwork.” Turning in orientation information, financial aid forms and housing applications promptly gives you better options than waiting until the last minute.
Andy McKee, director of residential life for the University of Saint Francis, says turning in your housing preferences as soon as possible helps relieve one of the fears students face as freshmen – roommates.
“Fill out the appropriate information in June and pay your deposit early,” McKee says. “We try to match your preferences, but it gets little tough by the end of July. We’ll find you a spot, but we can’t guarantee they will meet your preferences.”
Sara Garcia, director of student housing at IPFW, says that students should also start researching class courses, student groups and freshmen activities that are available on campus.
“I think the collegiate experience is a mental experience,” she says. “Getting involved really changes the mentality as to what academia looks like.”
Before you pack up an 18-wheeler with all those “dorm essentials,” look at what you have and leave half of it at home. Garcia says contacting your roommates should be a priority to figure out who brings what.
“We have on our website tips for getting along and questions to ask your roommate. I think the biggest thing is to start communicating those things,” she says. “One of the biggest things people fight about is food – I have seen roommates hang a Sharpie on the fridge, so that you can write initials on food that you don’t want to share.”
Instead of bringing everything at once, McKee advises packing what you will need for a few weeks at first.
“You’re going to home for a weekend eventually or Thanksgiving break, so you don’t have to bring your winter gear right away,” he says.
Before you officially leave your parents’ nest, make sure you know how to take care of your own. Help your parents do laundry, cook meals and clean up the house to pick up some tips.
“We’re not a hotel. You’re going to have to learn how to do laundry,” McKee says. “That doesn’t mean we can’t or won’t help you, but you have to gain some independence.”
Garcia says that this is a time for parents to be the encouragers, not the enablers.
“They need to understand that this is the first step of going out on their own,” she says. “Have them cook dinners during the summer, make sure they know how to boil water or scrub a toilet if they don’t know how. Plus it’s a great way for parents to get a vacation.”