Deciding which college to attend can be a huge relief as senior year winds to a close. Don’t forget to take care of these important items, however, as high school ends and college approaches.
Sign up for orientation. Many colleges allow you to choose between single- and multi-day orientation sessions and offer several different date selections. Parent sessions may be offered, and some colleges even offer sessions for younger siblings. Choose the option that works for you and sign up early. You may need to pay a fee for on-campus housing or make separate arrangements to stay nearby.
Take care of financial issues. Pay any remaining fees or deposits due before the first term begins. You may need to reserve a parking permit, sign up for tickets to games, pay to use the fitness or other facilities, or submit funds for food or housing. You should also review your financial aid award package and accept or decline any funds as needed.
Plan out possible course options. You may sign up for fall classes at orientation, so be prepared with a few alternative plans. First, check to see what existing credits will transfer from dual enrollment, AP or other classes. You may also want to look at recommended course plans for your specific major to ensure you enroll in the necessary prerequisites to take required classes later. If you have questions, contact your admissions or registrar’s office.
Take any required online tests or courses. You may need to take an online placement test for math, foreign language or other courses. Some colleges also have drug and alcohol education, campus-wide reading and other programs they expect all students to participate in. Review the requirements for your college and get these items out of the way early.
Enroll in special programs. Your college may offer camps or other programs that occur before fall move-in. Some departments also offer specialized programs for a fee or by application. Check out your options to see if any appeal to you. These programs can help you meet other like-minded students and establish a network before school even starts.
Connect with other students. Look on social media sites for groups of other incoming freshmen or current students to connect with. Becoming part of these groups may help you locate a compatible roommate, find others from a similar background or discover social events and activities you’d like to join.
Connect with faculty. If you plan to do lab research, initiate a specialized project or work in a particular department, take some time to reach out to relevant faculty. You may want to ask a researcher what classes you should take to become qualified to work with him or her or determine the requirements for employment at a specific position.
Finalize housing arrangements. It’s probably time to find a roommate and select your dorm preference if you don’t want to be randomly assigned. Follow your college’s instructions for online roommate matching services and choosing your residence hall. The online communities mentioned above can help you if you have questions about dining, shared spaces, room layout or student population in any of the dorms.
Get to know your campus. The college website is a good place to start. Look for information on student organizations as well as support systems like career planning, tutoring, mental health and physical health services. A video tour or campus map can help you visualize where the main buildings are. You may want to plan another campus visit either separate from or adjacent to your orientation session now that you have committed to this school.
Get to know your new community. Either in person or virtually, spend some time looking at the areas surrounding campus. Some commonly used community services include post offices and shipping centers, drugstores, grocery stores, book and supply shops, electronics stores and repairs, medical specialists and restaurants. Look for transportation options if you will regularly need to go further than walking distance from campus.
Make a list. Finally, make sure you are prepared for packing and moving. Think about what items you should purchase beforehand and transport with you to campus and which items you can pick up after arrival. Many retailers allow you to order online or select your purchases locally, and then pick them up at a store closer to your college. You may need to shop for clothes if your climate will change, and you’ll need a few basics like toiletries, bedding and towels.
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By: Iowa Student Loan