Starting College in the Fall? 5 Things to Keep in Mind Over the Summer

Summer_1199965_98068932Congratulations! You’ve graduated from high school, been excepted into college, and now you have an entire summer to play and play some more…right? Not exactly. There are a few things you’ll need to do to get ready for your first semester of college. I don’t mean buying your dorm room décor or your new college wardrobe. Here are five things worth contemplating over the summer break:

Your Major

Some of you may have already figured out what you want to major in, some of you may still be undecided. Don’t assume that those who already have majors are all set while the undecideds are lost and confused. What if you don’t like your major? Do you have a back-up plan? If you’re undecided, think about what topics interest you, and more importantly, what topics really don’t.

Your Roommate Situation

You may be able to select a roommate or your school may select one for you. While meeting new people is exciting and you may feel like your roommate will become your new best friend, living with a stranger comes with uncertainty. Remember, your roommate is an individual with a lifestyle of her/his own, a lifestyle that may or may not conflict with yours. You may want to consider how you want to discuss living arrangements and approach conflicts with this new person in your life.

Your Budget

There are some expenses you cannot avoid in college: tuition, room, board, and books, for example. But sitting down and coming up with a weekly or monthly budget is important for everyone. Consider the following questions: How much money can you afford to spend on books? How much can you spend on social activities with friends? How much does a plane/bus/train ticket or gas cost to make it home? How much does my cell phone cost? You may or may not be the person paying for all or some of these items. Regardless, setting up a budget before you get to college is necessary so that you don’t blow through whatever savings you have in the first month.

The Classes You Will Take

Yes, there are four years to figure out all of your classes for your major(s) and minor(s). Many schools also have core requirements that students have to fulfill in order to graduate on time or at all. Knowing what those requirements are before you begin will help you plan your semesters as you go, and will keep you from being surprised in the spring semester of your senior year, when you realize you have 4 requirements left and none of the spring classes available to you fulfill them. Make a list of the classes required for the school and for your current major.

How You Deal With Stress

College is a great time. It comes with all sorts of new freedoms and is a lot of fun. It is also a lot of work, and I don’t mean just homework. I mean dealing with financial situations on your own, dealing with interpersonal conflicts (with roommates or professors) on your own, managing your time so you can balance work and play…etc. Think about how you cope with stress. What do you do when you are anxious? What do you do when people get on your nerves? What mood are you in when you don’t get enough sleep? Contemplate how you react to all of these things, and begin to develop these strategies now before you get into a situation where you need a healthy coping mechanism and don’t have one.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting about each of these issues and offering some perspectives and advice on how to proceed. So stay tuned.

Have questions about things not on this list that you would like me to answer? Head over to the “Contact Me” page to send me your question or leave a note in the Comments section below. You won’t be the only person with the question, I guarantee.

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