How to Prepare for Back to School as a New College Student
Summer doesn’t last forever and before you know it, classes will be starting up for the fall. You might be a young student, right out of high school or going back to school after your military career has ended. You might be a military spouse changing your career, or trying to complete that degree you never got around to completing. No matter what type of college student you are, here are some ways to help prepare for back to school as a new college student.
Buy School Supplies
You want to be set for the first day of class so buying your school supplies early is a good idea. While you probably won’t get a list as you did in high school you might need certain items for different classes such as a graphing calculator or even a certain type of uniform. In addition, you would need to get your typical supplies such as pens, pencils, paper, a sturdy backpack, and anything else you might need for the school year.
If you are moving into a dorm or a new apartment, you will need to make sure you have what you need for your new home. Talk to any future roommates so you can coordinate what you are bringing. You might have doubles of the same items. Find out the size sheets you will need for the dorm as well as what might not be allowed at that particular school.
Organize Your Supplies
Take some time to organize your school supplies before the first day. Have your backpack packed, your luggage packed if need be and don’t wait until the last minute to get prepared. That way, you can make sure you really do have everything you need to start the school year off right. Doing this will give you time to head out and pick up any last-minute supplies that you might need.
Buy Your Textbooks
You should know ahead of time what books will be required for each of your classes. The bookstore at your college should have that information even before your class starts. You can choose to purchase directly from your college but you might save money by buying your textbooks in other places. Amazon and Textbooks.com will often give you a better price. Just make sure you have the right edition for the classes you are going to take.
Sign-Up For Classes
You will need to sign-up for classes and when you do that will be based on several factors. If you are active duty and attending classes at your duty station, you might have priority. Your school should let you know when you can sign-up and how to do so. You should have an idea of what classes you will be taking before the sign-up date. In some cases, classes fill up quickly, within an hour or less, and you will want to be one of the first to sign-up.
Budget For The Semester
You should have a budget for the semester. Think about any changes you might need to make. If you have previously worked full-time and now will go down to part-time, your budget will need a little tweaking. If you need to pay for childcare now when before you were a stay-at-home parent, you should account for that. Make sure you know what educational benefits you will receive and plan for that money as well. For example, with GI Bill, you would get a textbook stipend and possibly money for housing.
Find Your Study Spots
Figuring out where you will study before school actually starts can be a smart choice. Even more so if you have young children in the home. Studying in a quiet house might not be an option for you or there might just be certain times during the day when you can do so. See if any local coffee shops will work as well as your local library or school library.
Know Your School
If you are going to a physical school, you should head out there before classes start for a trial run. Figure out where your classes are, and how long it will take you to get there. Map out your route and then once the first day of school comes you will know exactly where to go. Not all college campuses make it easy to find the classrooms and being able to take your time before the first day to find them is a good idea.
Study The Syllabus
Sometimes you won’t get your syllabus until the first day of school, other times you will be able to get them earlier, especially if you are taking classes online. Make sure you read and understand what it says. If you can do that, you can go into your first class knowing what is going on, a little about what your teacher or professor expects, and will be a little bit ahead of the game.
Download Some Apps
We all know apps can make life easier, and finding the right apps for school is a must. Apps such as Quizlet, Google Docs, and Cited can make writing papers and studying a bit easier and apps such as Spotify can be good to get you in the mood to study. Getting yourself set up with some productive apps can help you start your school year off feeling a bit more organized.
Remember Your Goals
Once school starts and the pressure of tests, papers, and attending classes starts, it can be easy to lose track of your goals. Make a list of your college goals and plans, and remind yourself that you can do this. Having your goals in front of you will set you up for more school success. This is especially true if you have a long college road ahead of you.
Being organized when you start college is a must. Use these tips to help you start the school year off right.
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About the author
Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.