college transition, going to college, transition to college

The senior year of high school is a very exciting time, but it’s also incredibly busy for students going to college. Not only are students wrapping up their high school experience, but they are also preparing to enter college. This transition can be thrilling as well as anxiety-inducing. 


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As parents of these young adults, it can be equally nerve-racking for you. Parents want to prepare their students as best as they can, but it can often feel like you’re missing a thing or two. It would be easier with a roadmap listing every activity, deadline, and possible suggestion to make the jump to college as seamless as possible. Luckily such a roadmap, or checklist, exists. 



The going to college transition checklist helps make the road to college more enjoyable for the student and their parents. It includes suggested activities and research opportunities to make the most informed choices, the responsibilities of both the student and parent, and the financial hurdles that come with a college education.



The checklist also considers other financial issues or concerns. Small mundane details like travel expenses and car insurance may go unnoticed in the jumble of must-do activities, but are just as important to the college transition experience. 


Regardless of where your student attends school, you can bet on commutes to and from campus or back home for those long school breaks. You need to keep the car maintained and insured properly to ensure everyone’s safety and peace of mind. 


Parents can often wonder if there are ways to make these costs cheaper. Some even ask if driver’s ed online can lower insurance costs. 


Tips and tricks like online driver’s ed will be outlined in the checklist, so you can easily check off each activity as you get it done. You and your student will be ready to take on that first year of college in no time. 



The Going To College Transition Checklist

The going to college preparation should and does rest mostly on the student. This is usually the first foray into adulthood for many students, so they need some college-specific guidance. 


Most of the “to-do” items are meant as light-hearted suggestions to help assure you that all your bases are covered. Some items listed are requirements, whether at the college or federal level, and will have due dates. 


Make sure you are in contact with your school and aware of all impending deadlines. Let’s just consider that your first lesson in college success


Student To-Do List

As you wait for the college semester to start, here are some things you can do that will help prepare you for the school year.


#1 – Check Your School’s Website 

The best place for up-to-date, institute-specific information is the school website. Everything from financial aid to upcoming events and deadlines can be found on the website. Bookmark the webpage and visit it often to make sure you are aware of any changes or important upcoming activities. 


#2 – Get a Calendar 

In every facet of life, including for students going to college, organizational skill is key to success, especially when there are multiple dates and activities to remember. Get a calendar, whether it’s a wall, desktop, or electronic calendar, and start writing down important dates, upcoming activities, and deadlines. 


The calendar can also help you start a crucial study habit. The calendar you start for the going to college transition process can also be used to set up a study schedule, mark homework due dates, and impending essay or test dates. Starting this habit now will help set you up for success during the school year.


#3 – Find a Part-Time Job 

Find a part-time job during those summer months between high school and college. The money you make here can be used to cover college expenses like tuition, room and board, or a dining hall meal plan. 


If you have those costs covered without a part-time job, consider saving this money for unexpected expenses or fun activities once you arrive on your college campus.


#4 – Register for New Student Orientation

Most schools offer a new student orientation to help ease the going to college transition. Take the time to register for the orientation (and mark the date and time on your new calendar) to give yourself some peace of mind and important information.


Some of these orientations will be held online because of COVID-19 restrictions or concerns. Other schools may be holding new student orientation on campus. 


If your school is one of the latter, make the time to attend. On-campus orientations allow you the opportunity to get familiar with the feeling and culture of the campus. 


#5 – Connect With Other Students on Social Media

The age of social media makes staying connected even easier. Take the time to find your school on any social media platform. In many cases, these platforms provide important information in real-time and you will be more likely to see the notification. 


Social media also gives you the chance to connect and interact with incoming and current students at your school. 


#6 – Connect With Your Roommate

Most incoming freshmen live on campus with a roommate or two. Once you have been assigned a dorm and a roommate, get connected. 


Getting connected early can help break the ice and find common interests. You can also divide responsibilities of bringing necessary room items to campus.


Check with your school about how roommates are matched. Some schools do the matching for you, but others require the students to find their own roommates. Those schools that require students to match on their own may have websites to facilitate the process.


#7 – Find Your Advisor and Register for Classes

As the school year approaches, you’ll need to register for next semester’s classes. The time for registration will vary. Some schools allow students to register early online, or you may need to register at orientation or move-in day. 


Before you make any class decisions, contact your advisor. They will be a great resource for all degree and course requirements. 


Also, talk with them about your academic goals and ultimate hope for your degree or occupation. This relationship will help guide you through the next four or more years and will ease some of your anxiety.


Remember, the process and deadline for class registration will vary based on your institution, so make sure you stay in contact with your advisor and be aware of those dates (and mark them on your calendar).


#8 – Research Your Professors

It’s always a good idea to do some research before or just after making a big decision. The same is true for your classes and professors. 


Before or after you register for classes, check out the possible professors. You can get an idea about the personality of the professor and the requirements of the class, including any necessary textbooks. Some of the rate my professor platforms can help with this.


#9 – Apply For Scholarships

Even though you have completed mountains of paperwork at this point in your going to college journey, it’s not over quite yet. Take some time to research and apply for scholarships in the remaining summer months. These scholarships may be specific to your school or freestanding. 


Remember, you can apply for scholarships throughout your college experience. Continue to check out scholarship offers and websites to fill in any financial gaps you may have.


#10 – Take Care of Appointments and Prescriptions

Consider making all health-related appointments before leaving for college. These checkups will give you peace of mind and allow you the opportunity to take care of any issues that you may be experiencing. 


Be sure you understand your specific health needs and insurance coverage so you can be an advocate for yourself while on campus. Make sure any prescriptions you take regularly or might need are filled as well. This will ensure you are fully prepared for those first few weeks and months of college life


#11 – Check on Your Financial Aid Verification

If you are the recipient of any financial aid, make sure you have all paperwork turned into your school’s financial aid office. Any missing information or paperwork can delay your financial aid, which can lead to other delays in class registration or dorm room assignments. 


Remember that financial aid has to be renewed every year. Make sure you understand all renewal requirements and know the final deadlines. 


#12 – Research Campus Jobs or Work-Study Positions

Some students are awarded work-study positions as part of their admission into their school. These students will need to research those opportunities and apply for positions that interest them. These positions are filled quickly, so do your research and start the application process.


If you are interested in working but are worried about the school-life-work balance, check out campus jobs that may be offered. These jobs can help students get connected to the school and fill their pockets to cover any related expenses. 


If this process seems daunting, there are ways to find a job with flexible hours on or near many college campuses. In many cases, there are campus associates and entities that can help find the job that best fits your interests and schedule.


#13 – Purchase Necessary Textbooks and Materials

Once you have your classes set for the next semester, you will need to purchase or rent any required textbooks and materials. Many textbooks can be purchased at the campus bookstore, but they often come at a premium. Check out preowned or rental book options to save money.


#14 – Learn Good Study Habits

After you have your room assignment, are registered for classes, and are on the hunt for required textbooks it’s time to relax, right? 


Relaxation should be a part of your summer plans, but you should also read a few books. Some schools offer summer reading lists, but any reading will help keep you in the “academic habit” as you wait for classes to start.


Learn how to study better before you start your first semester classes. These tips and habits will set you up for success and less stress in the coming months. 


Parent Going To College To-Do List

It’s a good idea for parents to have their own going to college transition checklist, too. There are some responsibilities still left for parents and moments you don’t want to miss as your child prepares to enter this new chapter of their life.


#1 – Attend Parent Orientation

Just like new student orientation, many schools offer parent orientation for the parents of incoming students. Parent orientation will go over important information like campus policies and give you the chance to ask questions. 


Orientation will also let you explore the campus and calm any worries about this transition. You will start to feel more comfortable with this new environment for your child. 


#2 – Make a Family Weekend Visit

There is a second opportunity for family involvement on campus. Many schools offer family weekends that encourage family members of incoming and current students to experience campus life. 


These weekends are usually full of exciting activities and informational offerings to keep you connected and up-to-date.


#3 – Make Time

As the going to college transition nears, parents often feel like time is speeding past. Plan some time with your soon-to-be college student. Try to schedule some family time around all the important activities and your student’s friends. 


However, don’t force quality time. There’s a lot going on in a short few months, but offer it as a relaxing alternative to some of the more stressful activities and appointments. You and your child will appreciate the break from preparation and the quality time together. 


#4 – Talk Life Skills

The going to college transition marks the beginning of adulthood for your child. It’s the first time your child will be on their own and in control of every aspect of their life. Take this opportunity to further prepare your child for their time away from home. 


Walkthrough the important life lessons/skills like how to do laundry, how to change a tire, and how to stick to a budget. It won’t be possible to cover every eventuality, but it will be a great start.


#5 – Arrange Fall Tuition

Make sure you are aware of all tuition payments. The first payment is often paid over the summer before classes begin, but subsequent payments will be spread out over the fall semester. You should note all due dates and payment processes to keep everything running smoothly. 


#6 – Time to Shop

There will be a few necessities your student will need for their dorm room. Have all these necessities purchased and packed in preparation for move-in day. Make the time to shop smart for those items and have fun.


Don’t forget that dorm rooms are small, so grab what’s most important for the first few days. Anything that is still necessary can be purchased on move-in day.


#7 – Look for Parent Programs

It can be hard being away from our children. That distance, whether physical or in communication, can make it difficult to stay in the loop. Look for any campus programs offered to keep parents engaged and up-to-date on campus goings-on. The campus newsletter is always a good place to start.


#8 – Communicate with Your Child

It may seem odd, but it’s a good idea to talk to your child about how and when you will communicate with each other. The transition from seeing your child daily to talking sporadically can be a tough transition. 


Try having a conversation about how often you can expect to speak with your child in the first few months of school. This will help you both feel more comfortable with the distance and get you through until the next phone call. 


#9 – Prepare for Move-In Day

Make sure you discuss the schedule and expectations before the big day. There may be set times for activities on move-in day, and your child may want your help to unpack. 


These details must be discussed and understood before move-in day. Having these discussions beforehand will help move-in day be a time of excitement and great memories. 


Car Prep and Insurance

There may be just one other step of preparation to accomplish before your child leaves home. Find your child a safe vehicle, or take your child’s existing vehicle in for a full inspection and oil change. Be sure to make any major repairs as well. 


The vehicle they drive should be reviewed and fully serviced before move-in day. Even if your child is only going down the street, their car needs to be in full working order. This will give you both peace of mind and you can be sure the car will get your child home for their first visit back home. 


Review your car insurance coverage as well. The going to college transition could mean some changes to your coverage are necessary. Any lapses or gaps in coverage could mean big problems later on. 


If one more cost seems like too much to handle, be sure to ask your representative how you can lower insurance costs. Many insurance providers offer a number of discounts that you may qualify for. 


There are even small insurance discounts for having your child complete driver’s ed online. It can be just one more activity to complete on your summer to-do list before fall classes start. 


Going to college transition times are often difficult and can be incredibly overwhelming. The transition to college, however, should be a time of excitement and a sense of impending adventure.


Follow the going to college transition checklist, take one step at a time, and this transition will be less of a shock.

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