There’s a lot to do before you head off to college. To help you and your family prepare, I’ve created a master to-do list. Below you’ll find the 12 most important tasks to complete for you make the trip to move into your college dorm room this fall.
1. Tune Up Your Car + Purchase A Campus Parking Permit
Visit your mechanic and have your oil changed. Ask him or her to check your brakes, tires, and fluids. Your mechanic at home may be able to refer you to a mechanic near campus for emergencies. Be sure to purchase a parking permit before you pack up your car for move-in day. Your college will be able to tell you which parking permit you’ll need based on whether you plan to live in a dorm or at an off-campus community.
2. Visit The Doctor
Schedule a physical before you leave for school. Your college’s health clinic is better used for when you’re sick than for your routine medical needs. Ask your doctor to provide you with enough prescription refills to last until you’ll be home during the holidays. Be sure to get any vaccines you may need — meningitis, hepatitis B, and tetanus are common requirements. You’ll also want to visit your dentist and optometrist. If you wear glasses or contacts, consider ordering a new supply for the school year ahead.
3. Research Professors And Schedule Classes
Visit Rate My Professors to read reviews from other students about your college’s professors. The ratings and reviews will give you an idea of how easy the class is, how helpful the professor is, and how clearly he or she communicates the information. Keep in mind some reviews may be significantly biased because a student received a bad grade.
If you haven’t already, schedule your classes. Keep a calendar in front of you while you review class schedules and always ensure you’ll have enough time to walk from one class to the next. If you really want to attend a particular class that’s currently full, check back often. Many students drop classes up until the Friday of the first week of school.
4. Order Textbooks
Professors typically send textbook requirements a few weeks before classes begin. If you haven’t received notification of which books you’ll need to buy, check the class syllabus or email your professor. Double-check the return policy; if you decide to drop a class during the first week, you don’t want to be stuck paying for a textbook you’ll never use.
Compare textbook prices to save money. Visit the on-campus bookstore as well as off-campus bookstores in the area. Check for deals on websites like Chegg, bigwords.com, textbooks.com, and eBay. If you are taking student loans, you may be able to purchase books from the campus bookstore before your loans come through by putting the books on your student account with the college.
5. Update Or Order A New Computer
Make sure the software on your laptop or desktop is up-to-date. If you plan to order a new laptop to take to school, check for student prices at your college’s on-campus computer store as well as other computer retailers. You may be able to get a better deal or a free upgrade by purchasing the computer with your student ID. Finally, call your college’s police department — some colleges offer free laser engraving for student laptops.
6. Attend Orientation And Take A College Campus Tour
If you weren’t able to make it to your college campus before now, schedule an orientation ASAP. Orientation will give you a better idea of your college’s culture, students, and campus. Some orientation programs will walk you through class registration and advise you on how long it can take to get from one place to another. You’ll also have a chance to get your student ID and check out your on-campus dorm room.
7. Complete Your College’s Summer Reading Suggestion
Many colleges organize a committee of faculty, staff, and students to select a book for all students to read over summer. Typically the school hosts a discussion in August and it can be a great opportunity to connect with other students and meet new friends.
8. Download A Campus Map From the College Website
A campus tour will help you become familiar with the campus, but you may still need some help getting to your first few classes. Print out a campus map or save it on your phone, and circle the buildings in which your classes take place. If you have classes back-to-back, figure out the fastest path between them. You may also want to plan for where to grab lunch if you have mid-day classes that are far away from your dorm room or campus cafeteria.
9. Choose A Meal Plan
If you plan to live on-campus, you’ll want to sign up for a meal plan. Every college’s meal plans differ so research your options. If you plan to eat out frequently or use a community kitchen to cook, estimate how many meals you’ll want to eat at your school’s cafeteria. To save money, purchase a mini-refrigerator and microwave for your dorm room (if permitted). When you visit home, prepare easy-to-microwave meals to take back with you to campus.
10. Make A Decision About Health Insurance
Many universities require you to have health insurance as an enrolled student. Typically a college-provided health insurance fee is automatically added to your account. If you’re covered by private insurance or plan to remain on your parents’ insurance, you’ll need to let your college know. Check your student account for a health insurance waiver form. Once you provide proof of insurance, the fee will be removed from your account.
11. Shop For College + Dorm Room Supplies
Shopping for your dorm room is one of the most exciting parts of going to college. Download my College Dorm Room Supply List or create a detailed list before you head out to the store. Here are a few commonly used dorm room items you will want to remember:
- Cleaning supplies: laundry detergent, paper towels, all-purpose cleaner, trash bags
- Electronics: ethernet cable and router, TV, computer, surge protector, batteries
- Accessories: bedding, beanbag chairs, area rug, floor lamp, full-length mirror
- Desk supplies: pens, pencils, scissors, tape, paper clips, ruler, calculator
- Personal items: first aid supplies + medication, hairbrush, hairdryer, shampoo + conditioner, shower caddy
12. Connect With Your Future College Roommate
Most colleges will provide you with the contact information of your future roommate once your room has been assigned. Email them and decide how to divide the cost of common-use items such as a TV, rug, refrigerator, microwave, mirror, etc.