Stress-Free Back To College Plan for New Students

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The lazy, hazy days of summer are wonderfully slow, but if you’re heading to college in the fall, the time to move-in to your campus housing will be here before you know it. If you thought the blood, sweat and tears you expended preparing the application last fall was the hard part -- think again! Making the physical move to college can be as stressful as writing the perfect essay or even picking the right college, especially if you ignore your mom or dad’s entreaties to get packing, and wait until the last possible minute to get yourself organized. Take it from two who have been there, you do not want to start off your college career in a discombobulated state, or have your last day at home be one spent with parents furious at your lack of preparation.

College Drive

Getting ready involves much more than going out to buy a shower caddy from Bed, Bath & Beyond. To help you get through it without too much fuss, we’ve put together five simple steps that will have you heading to college in style, and stress-free!

1. Visualize the Room & Make a Checklist.

Think about what you’ll need when you arrive before you head to the store to buy things. If you don’t, you’ll end up spending more than you need to on items you’ll never or rarely use. Sketch the floor plan on a piece of paper and picture what you will need to make the space work. There isn’t going to be much storage space in the room, so consider adding tools that will keep clutter from overrunning the room to the list of things to buy. Most colleges also provide a checklist of items that students need, which cover things like sheets, towels, etc., so be sure to incorporate the school’s list with your own. Just remember: less is more.

2. Plan the Move.

Unless you are going to college in your hometown, you will need to take a bus, car, or maybe even a plane, to get there. Figure out the best way to get you and your belongings to school. Does your school have an organized dorm move-in? Are your parents or siblings coming along to help? If so, do you need a hotel reservation? Think of this move-in adventure like a trip and plan accordingly.

3. Get your Systems Set.

Plenty of people plan for college by buying new notebooks and some new clothes, but one of the most overlooked, but most important, aspects of planning for school is how you’re going to set yourself up for success. You might have done well in high school, but you also had parents who were always there as a safety net, ensuring homework was done, schedules were adhered to, and the big picture was organized. For the first time in your life, that responsibility falls entirely on your shoulders. It is entirely up to you to dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s” in your life now. Take some time to think about how you are going to organize yourself so that you make the most of college. Whether it means seeking out tutors, signing up for one less class, or finding your favorite spot in the library, a little time now can mean a lot to your GPA later.

4. Set Up a Budget.

If you aren’t careful, you could end up in a heap of consumer debt -- in addition to any school loans -- by the time you graduate. Don’t put yourself in that kind of financial hole. It’s bad for your credit and may even hurt your chances of getting a good job upon graduation. Sit down with your parents or your financial assistance adviser and devise a reasonable budget that allows you to stay on track and have some fun. Be sure to brainstorm ways to say no to those credit card pushers that seem to pop up all over campus before you arrive as well.

5. Use Those Professors.

They are there for a reason: You. They’re getting paid to make sure that you learn something, so start right away by getting to know your professors. Take advantage of that network; visit them during office hours for extra help or advice on other classes. It might just be the smartest thing you do.

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