10 Things To Do the Summer Before College

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.)

10 Things To Do the Summer Before College

So how can you be sure that you’re ready for the first day of college and beyond? We’ve got you covered with the top ten things you need to do before you step on campus, plus a handy checklist to get you sorted on your shopping trip!

10 Things To Do the Summer Before College

1. Get All the Apps

Your new college most likely offers an online student portal, a .edu email address, a mobile app, a learning management system, and a Facebook page and a more general social media presence. 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, and more.

Oh, and while you’re at it, clean up your own social media accounts. Delete those ill-advised party photos and poorly-aged Tweets before they have a chance to get you in trouble.

2. Register for Orientation

Some schools will automatically sign you up for a mandatory in-person orientation. Obviously, if it’s mandatory, you should go. If it’s not mandatory, or if sign-ups aren’t automatic, you should still go. Now that you’re 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’s so much that you can get out of the orientation experience, including:

  • Class registration,
  • Opportunities to clarify college credit transfers and transcript issues,
  • Financial aid information and bill payment clarifications,
  • Walk-through of a typical day for students,
  • Campus tours, often with a focus on housing,
  • Interaction with college leaders,
  • Introductions to student advisers and counselors,
  • Meet-ups with fellow students and their families,
  • Promotion of campus clubs and organizations,
  • Discounts at the bookstore and cool swag bags,
  • Fun activities, and
  • A chance to breathe easier about this whole college thing.

Get yourself to an orientation. It may be the first of the many indelible memories you’ll make in college.

3. Get in Touch With Your Roommate

If you’re 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’ve 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’ll 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.

4. Go Shopping

If you get a rush of endorphins every time you hear the chime of a cash register, you’ll love this part. It’s 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’ve compiled a friendly shopping checklist for your convenience. Download and print this PDF file for easy convenience as you gather provisions.

College Shopping Checklist Screenshot
✓ College Shopping Checklist [PDF]

5. Plug In

As long as you’re shopping, make sure you’ve 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’re 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’ll be spending a lot of time with this device.

6. Get Organized

❝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’ll be balancing assignments, attending classes, visiting professors during office hours, and participating in all kinds of student activities (if that’s your thing). This may be the first time you’re balancing all of these responsibilities without the help of parents or teachers. You’ll 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’s 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.

7. Research Courses and Instructors

Your first-year schedule is likely a combination of prerequisite courses, introductory courses in your intended area of study, and a handful of electives. While there’s not much you can do about your prerequisites, you do have a little flexibility. If your school rolls course registration into orientation, you’ll want to prepare in advance. Review the course catalogue, 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. And if you’ve already done so, the summer gives you a bit of a cushion for shifting gears. Learn everything you can about your courses and professors in advance. If you need to make a change, you’ll save a lot of time, energy, and misspent effort by doing it now rather than once classes have already begun.

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 Top 10 Myths About College Majors Debunked.

Or, for those who are undecided, check out 10 Tips for Success as an Undeclared Student.

8. Research College Clubs and Activities

While we’re on the topic of researching, bear in mind that you’ll 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.

9. Look for Job Hookups Around Campus

Planning on working part-time while pursuing your degree? Well, you’re not alone. In fact, you’ll have a whole lot of company, probably way more than you want. Remember that you’ll be competing with a geographically concentrated pool of your fellow students when you start submitting applications. The sooner jump into this process, the better. Don’t 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’re eligible for this unique student aid opportunity.

10. Make the Rounds in Your Hometown

Whether you’re feeling all sentimental about your impending departure, or you can’t 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’ve 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’s 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’re still on the hunt, we’d suggest beginning with a look at the 50 Best Colleges and Universities! And if you’re considering attending college online, check out 10 Tips for Adjusting to School Online.