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Things to Do During the Summer Before College

a student looks inside of a refrigerator with a to do list hanging on the door.


The summer before college can be a time to unwind from the stress of college admissions. But it is also a good time to prepare for the transition to college life.

Secure Your Housing

After you submit the housing forms and pay the housing deposit, you may be assigned a roommate. Some colleges wait until students arrive on campus to match them with roommates. Connect with your new roommate on Facebook, contact them by email and talk or text on the phone to coordinate who will bring what to the dorm room. Discuss rules concerning noise, sleep time and visitors, which can be a potential source of conflicts.

Next, it is time to go shopping. Get some dorm room furnishings, such as bedding, a microwave oven, a toaster oven, a mini fridge and a study lamp. Buy some college clothing, including at least one set of professional attire for internships and formal settings.

Get Your Technology

Check whether the college has any requirements for a computer (Mac or PC) and whether the campus bookstore has any special discounts. Then get a computer, laptop and/or tablet that has wireless and wired network capabilities and a webcam for when you talk to your parents.

Get a high capacity USB stick for backing up your computer. Buy a good laptop lock, so your computer doesn’t disappear from your dorm room when you aren’t looking. All it takes is 5-10 minutes of inattention for your stuff to walk out the door.  

Appreciate Your Parents or Guardians

Spend time with your parents before you leave. They are going to miss you and you will miss them. Schedule a time for a regular phone call or video chat. Once a week should be sufficient.

You can communicate with them by email in between the weekly check-in. Keep them in the loop on your academic performance and other happenings. They are, after all, paying for your education. Plus, they want to relive their college years through you.

Make a Resume

Start a resume, so you can keep track of your accomplishments as they occur. It is a lot easier to update this document on an ongoing basis than to write a resume from scratch after years have passed. Set up a LinkedIn account if you don’t already have one. It can help you get summer jobs and internships.

Take Care of Your Finances

Speaking of summer jobs, the summer before college is a great time to get a part-time job to help you earn money to pay for college. You can earn up to about $6,400 without affecting your financial aid. A summer job or internship can also provide experience, which will help you get a job after you graduate from college.

Also, summer is the right time to start shopping for student loans. You should always borrow federal first, since federal student loans are cheaper and have better repayment terms. But if you exhausted the Federal Stafford loan limits and still need more money, you may wish to borrow private student loans to pay the college bills.

The Credit CARD Act of 2009 set restrictions on your ability to get a credit card on your own, so talk with your parents about getting a credit card. Some college students make do with a debit card instead. Either way, you’ll need to set up a bank account near campus.

Plan the Final Details

Note key dates in your calendar, such as the registration due date, new student orientation, the start and end of classes and the drop date. List all deadlines in your calendar, with reminders a week or two in advance.

Don’t forget to have your final high school transcripts sent to the college. Submit your AP and IB test scores so you can get college credit. Respond promptly to all requests from the financial aid office, especially in regards to verification.

Visit the college’s web site. Look at the majors and course offerings. Try to plan out the classes you’ll take each term from matriculation to graduation, taking prerequisite requirements into account. Register for your classes as soon as possible, since popular classes will fill up quickly. Some classes have summer reading assignments.

Take Care of Yourself

Visit your doctor and dentist for a checkup to update any vaccines. If you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, visit the eye doctor to update your prescription. Review your health insurance status, especially in consideration of potential changes in health care laws. Get a haircut a few weeks before you leave for college.

To become familiar with your new town, look up information about the college town online. Learn about the public transportation system, if any. Some schools provide discounted or free access to the local public transportation system. Make a list of restaurants and entertainment venues to check out.

Finally, get those life skills in place. Learn how to do your own laundry and acquire basic cooking skills, such as how to boil water, make a sandwich and cook eggs. Ask your parents or guardians for money management tips and how to create a budget. 

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