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How To Prepare For College

Updated on July 22, 2013

You should prepare for college sooner rather than later. Many of the soon-to-be college students have to do a lot on their own to prepare. Yes, there is actual physical paperwork/online forms, and shopping to do, but- you also have to prepare mentally too.The transition of going into college can be a stressful, but wonderful and fulfilling experience. There are some steps you can take to make this journey a happy one. Remember this: you get what you give. Honestly- if you take the right steps and approach to entering college, you WILL get positive feedback.

FAFSA Home Page! You'll need your parents' help!
FAFSA Home Page! You'll need your parents' help! | Source

What you should have in your backpack to be prepared for your first day.

Fill out that FAFSA

Here's a link to make your life easier: click FAFSA. This is required for all colleges, and new applications can be filled out starting January 1st. Fill this out as soon as possible! It is an online form that you fill out (you're going to need help from your parents!), that determines how much federal student aid you should receive. Once filled out, the form will tell your school how much the family estimated contribution should be and how much money they will give you- whether it be through loans, grants, work study, etc. For me, personally- I received no aid from FAFSA, because of my family's financial situation. However, I HIGHLY recommend for you to google what grants your state gives out for what type of student you are. For instance, I am a NY state full time undergrad and was able to receive $3000 for the full year through TAP grant- even though I was rejected for aid from FAFSA. It can pay to do some extra digging. (*Grant money is money that you don't have to pay back).

I would also like to mention, that just because they reject you for a state grant once for the school year, doesn't mean you shouldn't keep trying. This year, I was rejected TAP grant money. I then updated the information on my FAFSA (which I sent directly to TAP), and received roughly another $3000 in grant money.

Cute Vlog! Enjoy

Apply for any local scholarships you qualify for

Okay, so I could understand why you wouldn't want to apply for a national essay based scholarship, but for heaven's sake! Apply to all your local scholarships! Your chances are higher and make your applications shine. Also, be sure you meet all the qualifications for the scholarship.

Get A J-O-B :)

Yeah, even if it's during the school year. Make some sacrifices here and there. Even if you got a minimum wage job and worked two days a week for seven hours each, that's about $100 every week. You'll need to start building up your money, so you can purchase food, soap, shampoo, detergent while you're at college. You should even save some of that for paying off loans and student debt. I honestly regret not getting a job sooner- it would have been so SO much smarter (financially) to just get a job. And if you really can't make time for a job during the school year (come on!), then get one during the summer. You can make even more dough! It will really help you in the long run- even if it seems like something so little.


Get yourself a Credit Card (but please, use responsibly)

You should get a credit card just in case of some sort of emergency. I'm not telling you to go crazy, but you should apply for one once you get a job and have a little bit of an income. There are some great student cards. For instance, I have a Discover More credit card. No annual fees, and as long as you pay off your purchases on time, interest won't be a concern. With this card, you are able to link it with your checkings/savings account and they will withdraw the money right from your bank account. I'm happy I have a credit card, because I was able to purchase my textbooks at about 1/3 of the cost because I ordered off the internet. This is an awesome step to take because you can build up a good credit score. When you fill in applications for an apartment, depending on whom or what you rent from, they may want to check out your credit score. Some services that you may need for your apartment also, may want a credit score from you. For instance, I got Time Warner Cable Internet and they wanted my credit score.

Make a shopping list

Speaking of money, you need to make a shopping list of stuff you're going to need for school. Not just textbooks. For instance, a comforter (probably twin xl), binders, laundry bag, shower flip flops, shower caddy, towels, washcloths, detergent, laundry sheets, bowls, plates, etc. Most likely you'll arrive at college and after a week you'll realize you should have brought some other things (band aids). Better be safe than sorry. Plan out your list early. There are tons of college shopping lists online, just to give you some ideas of what you might need- stuff you would probably forget are on these lists. Do a bit of research.

4 High School Habits to Break!

College is your new job

This is the new attitude you need towards your academics. College is your new job. That's exactly how you should treat it- like a 9-5 job. Take it seriously and be focused. Plan out your schedule accordingly with your class schedule and determine how many hours for each lecture you should put into studying OUTSIDE of the classroom. DO NOT for a second think that you can get away with doing no studying outside of class. Also- don't bite off more than you can chew. You should ease your way into college by take about 14-15 credits. It'd be crazy to start out taking 17- but it's not impossible. But, you should plan to succeed.

For more tips on preparing for college, check out my College Freshmen Advice article- you won't regret it.

If there are any additional tips or advice you can give- please comment below and share!


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  • CZCZCZ profile image

    CZCZCZ 5 years ago from Oregon

    Great tips for students about to start school. Getting a job is a big one, I had a job all four years of college and it really helped not only put some cash in the pockets for additional expenses but was a great way to jumpstart a professional resume for getting a higher paying job out of school. The last year of school I spent more time in internships versus paid positions, but that was just to assist in the job hunting process.

    Great hub, voted up, enjoyed reading through it despite being out of school for several years now.

  • profile image

    ElleBee 5 years ago

    These are good suggestions. I would say with the "get a job" thing it is true that some students really have trouble working a job during the school year - especialyl if they have a learning disability or difficulty, are in an exceptionally tough or time consuming major, or if they are very involved on campus. I know that I typically didn't work much in semester time (maybe 3-4 hours/week the first two years, and at most 10 or so later on) but I made up for that by always having two jobs in the summer, and making and saving as much money then as I could. I would usually work anywhere from 40-60 hours a week in the summer throughout college.

  • Lipnancy profile image

    Nancy Yager 5 years ago from Hamburg, New York

    Great advice for students returning to college. You are right, you always forget something.

  • NMLady profile image

    NMLady 5 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

    nice....good advice

  • profile image

    mjkearn 5 years ago

    Hi Marie

    great tips here and very sensible advice. Great job and I look forward to your next hubs,