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Head Start: 12 Things to Do Your Final Summer Before College

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Deciding where to apply to college can be a stressful decision. Filling out applications, writing essays, and playing the waiting game to find out whether or not you’ve been accepted can be even worse! But even once you figure out where you’ll be going to college this fall and determine how you will finance your education, you still have plenty of other items to check off your to-do list.

Some are more fun than others, but we’ve compiled 12 things to accomplish during your final summer before college. Read on and get cracking!

1. Attend freshman orientation. New student orientation is a mandatory event for most incoming freshman, but even if it isn’t—go and participate! Orientation is the perfect time to get acquainted with your new surroundings, learn campus policies, find out about services offered, find out about groups and clubs that interest you, and meet the people who may very likely become your new best friends.

2. Connect with your new roommates and future classmates. Your college most likely provided you with contact info for your roommate or roommates. Text them, call them or friend them on Facebook to get acquainted before you show up on campus. Find others who will be attending your school via social media, and start chatting.

3. Make sure you have the necessary electronics and supplies. Is your computer fairly new? Does the school recommend that all incoming freshmen have iPads? In some instances, laptops or tablets are provided (even if they seem “free” you’re certainly being charged for them somehow) but you might have to purchase devices outright. Stock up on basic school supplies like printer paper, pens, Post-Its, index cards, and any other items you generally use while you study.

4. Get a physical and go to the dentist. If you’re going away to college in another city or state, your regular physicians and dentist won’t be nearby (obviously)! Make sure you have had your annual physical and visit the dentist’s office for a cleaning and exam. Get refills written for any prescriptions you take regularly.

5. Save your money. If you receive cash as graduation gifts, make every effort to save at least some for the upcoming semester. Get a part-time job, or do odd jobs like baby-sitting and running errands for neighbors, and set aside as much of your earnings as possible. You might not have enough time to work and take classes this fall, and you never know when you might need the cash.

6. Take a breather. Every now and then, take time to stop and smell the roses. You’re probably really excited about going off to college in a few months, which is normal and expected, but most freshmen wind up at least a little bit homesick once in awhile. Make an effort to visit your favorite places, like the non-chain restaurants and stores that are exclusive to your hometown, at least once or twice before you leave for school.

7. Hang out with your high school friends. Facebook and ooVoo will help you stay connected to your BFFs once your social circle has disbanded for geographic reasons, but there’s a lot to be said about seeing one another in person. Spend time with your friends while you still can, because a few years from now these friendships may be little more than a distant memory—sorry, it’s sad but it’s true.

8. Spend time with your family. Don’t let your friends get all of your free time! Visit with your relatives, too. Your parents are probably a bundle of emotions right now, especially if you’re the first of their children to go away to college or you’re the last one out the door and they’ll be turned into empty nesters. Eat meals together, have conversations without arguing, and do things together. If your other relatives live too far away to see often but are within driving distance, ask your parents to host a going away dinner or party a week or two before you need to leave so you can see everyone all at once.

9. Gather any pertinent information and paperwork that you will need. Do you have your Social Security number memorized? Are you covered under your parents’ health insurance and car insurance plans? Do you have copies of the insurance cards? What are the telephone numbers for your regular doctors, in case you have a medical emergency and need records sent?

10. Go back-to-school shopping. Purchase the necessary dorm room essentials like a couple sets of sheets, pillows, a comforter or blanket, a lamp, and storage containers. Stock up on toiletries and other necessities like shampoo and toothpaste as well as Band-Aids and over-the counter-medications or a prepackaged first aid kit.

11. Learn how to fend for yourself. Learn how to cook basic meals. Learn how to do your own laundry. They’ll be just a phone call, Skype session, drive, or flight away, but Mom and Dad will no longer be able to come to your rescue for every minor emergency.

12. Explore campus. Once you arrive at school and move in, learn where things are. Determine the best ways to get from your dorm to your classes. Find the library. Figure out where you’ll be eating. Locate the fitness center. Explore, but do it safely—don’t walk alone after dark and keep your head held high like the successful student you are!


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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