It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy! Just kidding. You start college in a few months. You have a ton to do. Whether you’re prepping for campus life or gearing up for your first semester of online college, now’s the time to get your affairs in order. The more you do before school starts, the easier your transition will be. It may seem like there’s a lot to get done in just a few months—especially when most of us would rather be beaching, barbecuing, and chasing fireflies. (Don’t act like you’re too cool for it. Everybody loves fireflies. They’re freakin’ enchanting.)
Ah, the last summer before you finally go to college. Incoming students feel eager and excited to finally experience the “full freedom” that is college life (and dorm life), but also nervous about turning over a new leaf in your life!
It’s normal to have mixed feelings and okay to feel overwhelmed. The high-school-to-college transition evokes a complex mix of emotions.
One research study indicated that students are prone to experience what experts call a “summer learning loss” each year.
The Review of Educational Research study published a report saying that summer learning loss is equivalent to a full-month loss of knowledge. This equates to a student’s test score sliding down by roughly one-tenth upon returning to school in the fall.
In the past couple of years, students have also struggled with the “coronavirus slide.” Researchers from the University of Connecticut and Yale University estimate that Covid and the changes in school that were necessitated by it may have resulted in up to 30% loss in learning.
Summer school helps combat this alarming loss in learning. During the summer, just one course is enough to keep students receptive and engaged in learning.
In fact, there are a number of benefits of taking a college class in the summer
Summer school allows students time to think beyond their traditional subjects and try learning some new subject matter. For example, you could try developing your coding, computer, or graphic design skills in technology classes.
Attend freshman orientation. Take classes during the summer. If you’re unsure what to major in, enrolling in a summer class can be a good way to research various subjects and career paths. This is also a perfect way to complete those general education requirements.
Taking a summer class may give you the additional benefit of meeting professors. Making a connection with faculty members before the school year even starts could lead to opportunities like undergraduate research, internships, and more.
Summer school is also a perfect way to complete your credits quickly—from arts to aesthetics, mathematics to lab sciences, and even activity courses. This will benefit you, especially if you’re an incoming freshman looking to get a headstart on your studies. Those who register for summer courses also have the chance to consult with an enrollment counselor.
So how can you be sure that you are ready for the first day of college and beyond? We have got you covered with the top ten things you need to do before you step on campus, plus a handy checklist to get you started on your shopping trip!
Your new college most likely offers an online student portal, an
.edu email address, a mobile app, a learning management system, and a Facebook page. Sign up for all of it!
This is your first window into your new community and your direct line of contact with school administrators, instructors, alumni, and classmates. Not only that, but the sooner you download, sign in, and set up your accounts, the sooner you can learn how to navigate course offerings, support services, student clubs, COVID-19 rules and more.
And for online resources that every student should know about, check out the 10 Best Higher Education Websites.Back to Top
Some schools will automatically sign you up for a mandatory in-person orientation. Obviously, if it is mandatory, you should go. If it is not mandatory, or if sign-ups are not automatic, you should still go. Now that you are wired into the school’s various online portals and social media channels, you should have access to both a schedule of orientation events and a form for registration. Seize the opportunity. There is so much that you can get out of the orientation experience, including:
Get yourself to an orientation. It may be the first of the many indelible memories you will make in college. And by the way, even if you are attending school online there are still plenty of good reasons to visit your campus this summer.Back to Top
If you are living on campus, you will likely be assigned a roommate. This person could end up being your new best friend, your worst enemy, or something in between. If you have never played the lottery before, be prepared for the first major gamble of your life. After all, you and your roomie will be sharing some intimate space together. Start with a friend request on social media, then perhaps escalate to a Zoom call. Get to know one another in a preliminary way. You will have a slightly better sense of who and what to expect upon your arrival. This is also a great way to coordinate over furnishing, decorations, and dorm room frills.Back to Top
If you get a rush of endorphins every time you hear the chime of a cash register, you will love this part. It is time to shop. But before you fill up your Amazon cart or go on a Target spree, find out what your school provides for you. Most dorms are already equipped with basic stuff like chairs, desks, and a mini-fridge. Figure out what your school provides, what your roommate plans to bring, and what you absolutely must have. Not sure where to start? We have created a college shopping checklist PDF file for your convenience.Back to Top
As long as you are shopping, make sure you have got your technical bases covered. Do you have a relatively current computer or laptop? Is your machine compatible with your school’s LMS? Do you have HDMI cables, surge protectors, extension cords, and flash drives? Make sure you have everything you need, that all of it is in full working order, that your hardware is sturdy, and that your software is up to date. And if you are kind of new to the whole computer thing, use this time to learn your way around your own equipment. By the time you leave for school, your computer should feel like an extension of your own body. After all, you will be spending a lot of time with this device, especially if you plan to start online classes in the fall.
❝The college application process required you to level up your organization game. But that was just practice for the real thing…❞” – @AcademicInflux
The college application process required you to level up your organization game. But that was just practice for the real thing. You still have a lot to keep track of, from orientation dates and payment deadlines to move-in times and class starting dates. After that, you will be balancing assignments, attending classes, visiting professors during office hours, and participating in all kinds of student activities (if that is your thing). This may be the first time you are balancing all of these responsibilities without the help of parents or teachers. You will need a reliable planner or calendar, a to-do list system, and/or a workflow manager. Your approach to organization is up to you. It is best to use a method that is compatible with your lifestyle and comfort level. Fortunately, there are a ton of programs and apps out there. Play around with a few over the summer, and figure out what works for you before you find yourself inundated with assignments and social engagements.Back to Top
Your first-year schedule is likely a combination of prerequisites, electives, and introductory courses in your intended major, if you have one. While there is not much you can do about your prerequisites, you do have a little flexibility. If your school rolls course registration into orientation, you will want to prepare in advance. Review the course catalog, check out sites like Rate My Professors, and get a sense of which courses and instructors might be right for you. This knowledge could be extremely valuable as you plot out your first-year schedule.
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By the way, you may or may not be obligated to declare a major before arriving, or early on in your college education.
If you must choose a major, check out the Top 10 Myths About College Majors Debunked.
Or, for those who are undecided, check out 10 Tips for Success as an Undeclared Student.
While we are on the topic of researching, bear in mind that you will be doing more than just taking classes at college. As a part of a campus community, you have access to a wide array of student-run groups, university-sanctioned clubs, intramural sports, Greek houses, cultural societies, and professional associations. Find out what your new campus has to offer. Check out their social media pages, reach out to group leadership with questions, and maybe even attend a meeting or event during the summer if the opportunity presents itself. Locking in a few cool affiliations in advance can help you make new friends and lead to a generally more enriching educational experience.
Planning on working part-time while pursuing your degree? Well, you are not alone. In fact, you will have a whole lot of company, probably way more than you want. Remember that you will be competing with a geographically concentrated pool of your fellow students when you start submitting applications. The sooner you jump into this process, the better. Do not wait until you arrive on campus to cold-call local companies or search for now-hiring posts.
You can also check out our Focus on Work-Study Programs to find out if you are eligible for this unique student aid opportunity.Back to Top
Whether you are feeling all sentimental about your impending departure, or you cannot wait to bail on your boring, one-traffic-light town, your life is about to change. Take advantage of these last few months to hit your favorite restaurants, visit some local landmarks you have been meaning to check out, get a clean health bill from your family doctor, and — most importantly — spend time with your friends. It might be a few months or longer before you see them again.
Get your good times in now. After all, that is kind of the whole point of summer. Make sure you savor it.
Of course, before you do all of the stuff we just suggested, you have to get into an awesome school first. If you are still on the hunt, we would suggest beginning with a look at the 50 Best Colleges and Universities. And if you are considering online college, check out The Best Online Colleges in 2022!
See all kinds of tips, tricks and hacks for surviving your college experience with a look at our Blog.
See our Resources Guide for much more on studying, starting your job search, and more.