Dear Estelle. With college quickly approaching for our college-bound freshman what tips do you have for making his freshman year productive and successful emotionally and academically. He has good common sense and would appreciate your counsel and expertise as he prepares to transition to his new life. We have followed your column for years and know you will have just the perfect advice.
HLM Parent, Littleton
What perfect timing! All new college freshmen should make a “must do” list of all the important tasks to complete prior to starting college this fall. Completing these assignments will facilitate your transition to college.
The list should include the following:
Learn How to Keep Track of Money. Sit down with your parents and work out a budget of what you will pay for and what they will cover regarding expenses beyond tuition and room and board. Make arrangements for banking and if you’re planning to use a credit card be sure you understand the implications of interest rates and credit card debt. Many students with cards believe they can charge without limits.
Contact Your New Roommate. Most likely you’ve already done this but if not now is the time. Decide who will bring what for your dorm room and learn about your roommate’s background, musical interests, and politics. An important aspect of attending college is meeting a diverse group of new people. Be open to this! Once at school respect your roommate’s needs. Your living environment is likely much smaller than your room at home. Be neat.
Start Using a Calendar. This will help you stay organized as you transition into this new phase in your life. The I-Cal app on your Mac or I-Phone or just an old-fashioned appointment book will do the trick and help you keep track of all your academic advising appointments, housing assignments, social engagements and all your important commitments.
Register for a Summer Orientation Program. Don’t even consider skipping these programs. They are invaluable for acquainting you with the academics and campus activities at the school .You will meet many of your classmates and form new friendships while learning about the campus culture. If you like the idea of getting to know some of your classmates more intimately consider registering for some early arrival programs too. These often include biking, hiking or doing community service projects with other new freshmen while forging new friendships before school starts.
Start Being Responsible for Your Health. Once on your own you need to look after yourself. Plan your own medical and dental appointments this summer and make sure your immunizations are up to date. Remember most colleges require a shot for meningitis. Ask your physician to complete your medical forms. If you’re seeing a psychologist or require accommodations for learning issues become your own advocate and organize for those services at your college.
Healthy habits for diet and exercise have probably been part of your regimen since you were a child. Plan to continue these good habits this summer and maintain them throughout your college life. Drugs and alcohol are available at many schools. Be wise about their use. Remember your parents are no longer around to encourage and discourage.
Learn How to Do Your Laundry. Take lots of quarters with you for the laundry. The dryers gobble them up although some colleges now have computerized billing for laundry. Separate your clothes into light and dark or else you’ll end up with pink underwear.
Leave Time This Summer to Be With Your Family and Friends. Although you’ll see them again next Christmas this is a good time for special times with your friends and possible a vacation with your whole family.
Don’t Have Regrets About Your College Choice! It may not have been your first choice but most students easily adapt to the schools they attend and love their college experience. Remember too that your parents are going through their own time of transitions and may become “empty nesters” once you leave for school. Your leaving will seem like a loss for a while. They will miss you and you will miss them.