A Summer Checklist for Incoming College Freshmen

Congratulations on your college acceptance, and on choosing your home for the next few years! By now, the pressure you feel has probably eased a bit, and there’s time to relax. However, the transition from high school to college is a significant one, and preparation is key when it comes to a successful first semester as a college freshman.

You may be wondering where to begin when it comes to preparing for this new chapter. When writing a summer checklist as an incoming college freshman, prioritize tasks like signing up for orientation, registering for classes, searching for extracurriculars, and exploring the school as a whole.

Here is a sample summer checklist for incoming college freshmen:

Summer checklist item #1: Sign up for orientation

Register for an early orientation to (hopefully) get the classes you want, as well as to familiarize yourself with the campus and to see your official dorm and cafeteria options firsthand. Orientation is also the first real chance you’ll have to make new friends, so be open to introductions and don’t be afraid to start a conversation during campus tours.

Summer checklist item #2: Consider your options

Maybe you’re the person who’s wanted to be a teacher since the age of three, or maybe you’re still not sure about what to study. Spend a few hours looking through the course catalog to see what majors are available, and keep in mind that you can start as an undeclared student.

[RELATED: What I Wish I Knew About Picking a College Major]

Summer checklist item #3: Explore online

While you’re perusing the course catalog, you should also navigate the school’s website. See what it offers, and ask yourself a few questions: 

  • What kind of resources does this college have for students?

  • What is the online learning system like?

  • Where can I find school policies on dorm life, academic integrity, and student rights?

  • When are the major sporting events?

This is also a great opportunity to look at the school calendar and to note holidays, midterm and final schedules, and other important dates.

Summer checklist item #4: Register for classes

Waiting until the last minute to register for courses might leave you stuck with that 8:00 a.m. English class on the other side of campus. Make sure you know when the first day of freshman registration is, and have your classes picked out beforehand so you can be confident in creating your first college schedule. You can knock out some of the introductory courses for your potential major or try a couple of classes from different disciplines in-between general requirements. Be ready with a list of first and second choices on registration day, especially at a large school with lots of students.

[RELATED: How to Create Your First College Schedule]

Summer checklist item #5: Choose at least one extracurricular

The first year of college can be a little intimidating and even occasionally lonely. One way to combat the discomfort of this major transition is to choose a club or activity to join right away. Take some time during the summer to see what’s available in terms of intramural sports, student clubs, volunteer work, or even popular campus jobs, and figure out how to work an interest of yours into your schedule.

Summer checklist item #6: Buy textbooks

Once you’re registered for classes, you’re going to need school supplies. Textbooks can be a major expense, so see if you can find used copies in local bookstores or online for less than they’ll cost in the campus bookstore. If you don’t have a computer, you’ll also likely need one of those.

Summer checklist item #7: Friend your roommate

Sometime during the summer you’ll be notified who your roommate is; get in touch over social media or email, and get to know them! You may hit it off, or at the very least you can coordinate who’s bringing the mini-fridge and other dorm room must-haves. You can also talk about preferences for having visitors, sleep schedules, and other roommate issues.

Summer checklist item #8: Take a look at your finances

This is a great time to learn a little about finances, and to make sure that you’re set up for success. You’ll probably want to open a bank account. Make sure you’ve filled out all of your financial paperwork for scholarships, grants, and/or student loans, and build yourself a budget for covering tuition, books, living expenses, and spending money.

Summer checklist item #9: Speak with your parents or guardians

Make sure you communicate clearly with your parents or guardians about things like finances, expectations for how often you’ll call or come to visit, and other pieces of your relationship that might change now that you’re off on your own. If you build a plan together, it can help prevent future conflict.

Summer checklist item #10: Get check-ups

Finally, get check-ups for yourself, any pets you’re taking with you, and your mode of transportation. There may be mandatory vaccinations that you’ll need before moving into a college dorm. If you’re moving far away, you’ll want to guarantee your car or bike is reliable and in good working condition.

Your first semester will be full of new experiences, people, and situations, but you can easily set yourself up for success (and a lot of fun) with this summer checklist for incoming college freshmen.

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