After the Admission: Preparing for the College Transition
Compiled by Katherine L. Cohen, Ph.D., CEO & Founder and the team of counselors at ApplyWise.com
With the class of 2015 entering college in just a few months, now is the time for students (and parents) to prepare for the major life transition that comes with being (and parenting) a college student. On the one hand, students, you will need to be independent and responsible while adjusting to a new array of demands: time management, living in close quarters with a complete stranger, doing your own laundry (should the striped shirt be washed with whites or colors?). Meanwhile, your parents may be torn about encouraging this newfound autonomy as they struggle with their own feelings of relinquishment and an impending “empty nest.” The expert counselors at ApplyWise have some great tips so you and your parents can make the most out of the remainder of senior year and the summer while easing into your new roles this fall.
Students, don’t wait until the day you unload the car to start building a new support system and making new friends. Colleges have Facebook pages for their entire school communities, as well as designated “Class of 2015” pages for incoming freshmen. This allows you to share info, start discussions, and get to know other students before you even get to campus. Join the conversation online today! Also, get a sense of what’s happening on campus and which activities you may want to take advantage of: follow the college’s Twitter feeds, read the campus newspaper online, and look at the schedule for upcoming athletic competitions and other student life organized events on and off campus. As with all online interaction, ApplyWise advises safety first – never give out personal information such as addresses or phone numbers, and be aware of scams.
You will receive your housing assignment by early August, so take the initiative and reach out to your roommate. Get all of the small talk out of the way via phone, email, or even Skype, so when you show up on moving day, there’s already a familiar face. You and your roommate should also coordinate which items you’ll each bring to school, so you don’t end up with two DVD players and no TV! You’ll need to get used to living with this new person, which may be challenging especially if you have had your own room up until now. This includes adjusting to each other’s habits, sleep schedules and music preferences--you’ll need to learn how to compromise!
Get into (the) gear:
One way to feel mentally prepared for your new adventure is to get physically prepared. First, get organized: make piles of things to bring, things to store, things to toss, and things to give away. Most schools have suggestions on their websites of things to bring, as well as those that you should leave behind. This is a great exercise to do with a parent who may be more objective about what you will and won’t need at school.
Shopping for dorm décor will help you picture where you will be living and get you excited about furnishing your own space. Decorating your dorm room according to your own taste and style will help make it feel like home, which may also ward off any home-sickness. Don’t forget the necessities, including extension cords, cleaning supplies and laundry detergent. These basic items, which were always just there before, signal the realities of independence. If you haven’t already, now is a great time to ask your parents questions, learn basic housekeeping, bookkeeping and checkbook-balancing skills, and start practicing good living habits (like keeping your room tidy!).
Keep checking the mail and doing your research:
Many students think that once their admissions decisions have been received there is no need to keep track of mail from their college or further research the school. However, that’s not the case. In addition to important information regarding new student weekends, housing contracts, meal plans, and class registration, schools will also send you information regarding activities and programs in which you may want to participate. These can include special freshman seminars and new student deals that may have limited space/quantities, so pay attention! Be sure to check your mailbox and your email inbox regularly. This summer, you’ll also want to take the time to look through your college’s course catalog so that when you register for courses (often during orientation), you can secure a spot in your preferred classes. Knowing what you want to participate in, and how to take advantage of it, will also allow you to meet fellow students with whom you already share some common ground.
Discuss expectations with your parents:
There can be a significant gap when it comes to the expectations students and their parents have surrounding the roles each will play during these formative four years. Your parents, who may be paying for college, may presume that they still have some control over your life and expect you to come to them before making important decisions regarding academics, social life, or finances. However, you may assume that because you are living on your own, you can make your own decisions. Take some time now, as opposed to in the heat of the moment, to reach some common ground regarding resources, priorities, budgets, and values. Some good topics to discuss are grades and academic commitment, finances (including living expenses, internships and work, and financial responsibility), and lifestyle (such as communication expectations, weekends and nightlife, and future summer plans).
This is both an exciting and anxious time for students and parents alike. By following this advice from our expert counselors, there will be plenty of time to enjoy summer, prepare for fall and smoothly transition to the next phase of your life. Good luck from all of us at ApplyWise!
Get expert help applying to college with ApplyWise’s online college counseling program. Copyright ApplyWise LLC ©2011
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