It’s the end of February and we are almost halfway through the semester. Crazy, right? I cannot believe how fast this semester is flying by. For those of you who are high school seniors, you have probably already chosen a college and are enjoying your last semester of high school. Right now, your top priorities might be what you’ll wear to your senior prom and what graduation parties you’ll be attending. While it is important to have fun during your last semester of high school, you should also start thinking about ways you can start preparing for college. Your first semester of college will go a lot more smoothly if you start planning for it way before the day that your parents drop you off at your dorm. Here are some ways you should prepare:
1. Get a part-time job.
If you don’t have one already, consider getting a part-time job and beginning to save up for college. Even if your parents are helping you pay for college, expenses such as groceries, eating out, and entertainment add up quickly. Starting college off with some spending money will definitely make your first semester less stressful and more fun. Additionally, a part-time job will teach you valuable lessons in time management and working with others – lessons that you’ll want to learn before you set foot on a college campus.
2. Work on time management skills.
I grew up in a very small town and went to an even smaller high school. For lack of a better term, high school was a walk in the park for me. I can count on one hand the times I actually had to study in order to get an A in a class. I learned the hard way that college is much more difficult academically. Suddenly, I had to dedicate a good majority of my time to homework and studying, which I had never done before. I barely even knew how to study! Prepare yourself for college level coursework and figure out now how you’ll manage your time.
3. Start thinking about what you’ll need to buy.
Saying goodbye to your family and friends, move-in day, and the first week of classes are all stressful enough without having to run to Target multiple times to get things that you need. Make a list early on of what you’ll need in terms of dorm items, school supplies, etc. and plan out when you’ll want to buy them and how you’ll pay for them. Buying notebooks, pencils, highlighters, etc. before I arrived on campus was a major time saver, since both the university bookstore and Target were completely packed during the first week of classes.
4. Buy a planner.
I never used a planner during high school, but now, I would be absolutely lost without mine. When you’re a full-time student with a part-time job who is a member of multiple organizations, you’ll want to be able to visually map out your days. During the first week of classes, I fill my planner with due dates, exam dates, and other important events so that I am sure to never miss an exam or turn an assignment in late. Personally, I like having a large calendar above my desk filled with important dates in addition to my planner, where I can write more detailed descriptions of my days.
5. Make sure you have a high quality, working laptop.
I haven’t gone a single day in college without opening my laptop at least once. I use it constantly for homework, papers, and even for studying. If my laptop crashed or something happened to it, I would be completely lost, so it’s important for me to have one that is of top quality that I can rely on. Personally, I think that laptops make for the perfect high school graduation gift. Do your research and see what you can afford and what will best meet your needs. Laptops can be expensive, so make sure that you are buying the right one for you. I also recommend a warranty that includes accident coverage. For $200, I was able to purchase a three year warranty that covers everything under the sun. I definitely wish I would have had such a warranty during my sophomore year, when I accidentally spilled water all over my precious laptop.
6. Get to know your roommate.
If possible, find your roommate’s contact information and get to know her (or him). Discuss any ground rules you may have (does one of you have to get up at six in the morning for practice?) and find out who is bringing what. For instance, I brought a mini-fridge, and my roommate brought a microwave. Personally, I think it’s better for each person to bring their own items rather than splitting the cost of everything. That way, if anything happens and one person moves out, they can simply take what they brought with them and there is no confusion over who gets what.
7. Use caution when figuring out your class schedule.
If you’re not an early bird, don’t sign up for morning classes if you can help it. During your freshman year, you’ll probably be taking a lot of electives, so you should have some wriggle room in your schedule. I made the huge mistake of signing up for an eight am class my first semester. Long story short, I was not a morning person, I rarely went, and I got a lower grade than I was capable of. If you absolutely have to take an early class, get yourself on a sleep schedule before school starts that allows you to be awake and alert in the morning.
8. Clean out your closet – and honestly, your entire room.
Most likely, you’re soon going to be moving into a tiny, cramped dorm room that you have to share with another person. Closet space is sparse, and there’s practically no room for storage. Spend some time cleaning out your closet and getting rid of those Hollister hoodies from the eighth grade that are still lurking in the back of your closet. Doesn’t fit? Get rid of it. Not a snowball’s chance you’ll ever wear it again? Get rid of it. My mom and I had a huge yard sale that I promoted on social media and in the town newspaper. I made several hundred dollars and got rid of all of my old stuff. A win-win!
9. Clean up your social media.
Professors, employers, and your fellow peers are all looking at social media nowadays to scope out students, potential employees, and new friends. Delete any pictures, statuses, or “liked” pages that do not portray you in the best possible light. You’re about to move to a new town with thousands of new people! Put your best foot forward and don’t let anything hold you back – especially not a silly Facebook status.
10. Have fun!
This is your last semester of high school. While you should be working hard and thinking about your next steps, you should also make sure that you’re soaking everything in and enjoying the rest of your time in high school. You’ll never get to go back, but you’ll make memories that you’ll cherish forever. Spend time with your family and your high school friends. You’re moving on to a new chapter in your life, and you won’t get to spend nearly as much time with them as you do now. Enjoy it.