The Big College To-Do List

Everything You Need to Do, Prepare and Pack Before Starting College

Girl packing car for college
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Overwhelmed with everything you need to do before heading to college? Familiarizing yourself with everything on this list can help make the process easier.

The Big College To-Do List

1. Contact your roommate.

That first conversation is pivotal for getting to know each other, for building your relationship as roommates, and for figuring out who's going to be bringing what. A great roommate can make all the difference in school.

2. Have everything you need purchased, packed, and ready to go.

Knowing what to bring is just as important as knowing what not to bring. Deciding on what kind of computer you'll have is also a big decision that will influence several aspects of your college life. (Can you bring it home? Is it powerful enough to run graphics programs or economic models you'll need for your major?)

3. Have a solid understanding of your financial aid situation.

The last thing you want to have happen is for finances to get in the way of your academic progress. (Yes, it really does matter if you miss that deadline for submitting your FAFSA!) Make sure your finances are in order—and that you understand all you need to do while you're in school.

4. Make and understand your budget.

You'll need to know, from your first day on campus, how much money you can spend on certain things, whether or not you'll need an on-campus job, and how much money you should have at the end of every month so you don't have to beg your roommate for food come December.

5. Set yourself up to be physically healthy.

Picking the right meal plan and knowing how to make healthy choices in your new environment will greatly aid your time in school. Who wants to miss a midterm because of a stress-induced cold?

6. Familiarize yourself with college lingo before you arrive.

If your RA tells you that the problem you're having with your TA can best be handled by the dean, will you know what all of that means? What if your cute lab partner is complaining because adjunct professors weren't invited to convocation? College life is full of acronyms and new lingo: do what you can to familiarize yourself with it before you arrive.

7. Know how to get the most out of orientation.

Everything from meeting people to making it through your first week takes a lot of courage—but pushing yourself through will make a huge difference during your entire time at school.

8. Have a plan for keeping in touch with people back home.

It's a good idea to know how to manage relationships with your boyfriend or girlfriend, parents, and even siblings. If you talk about how to keep in touch before you leave, everyone will know what to expect.

9. Have a strong time management system ready to go.

Figuring out how to manage their time is often one of the biggest challenges for college students. Set yourself up early with a system that you know will work for you.

10. Know how to keep yourself—and your stuff—safe while in school.

The last thing you need to be worried about while in school is dealing with something that may have been preventable. Losing your computer, for example, can wreak havoc on your academics—and, if someone breaks into your room while you left the door open, can wreak havoc on your roommate relationship. It's easier to stay safe than to deal with theft.

Lastly—at an unofficial #11—congratulate yourself on a job well-done for getting here in the first place, and have fun!