The summer after senior year can be a nice respite from the admissions process, allowing you to catch your breath before heading to college. However, in addition to sending final transcripts to your college of choice and applying for housing, there are a few things you can do as you prepare to become a college student.
You may already have some required courses on your schedule for the fall (and possibly even the spring) semester. Fortunately, most online course catalogs lists the requirements for graduation, allowing you to plot out the your academic plan. If you already known which major you plan to declare, you can also search those requirements and fill in a tentative academic plan so you have a better idea of which courses you will take and when. If you don't know your major yet, you can review the course catalog to read about the requirements for different majors to decide which ones you may be the most interested in pursuing.
Beyond academics, colleges offer myriad resources that can help you in every category. Taking time in the summer to find out exactly what your college offers students in terms of support is a great way to get a head start on acclimating to your campus.
"Seniors should get familiar with the mental and academic counseling options their college provides," says Ashley McNaughton, founder of ACM College Consulting. "Students need to understand they can get counseling for nearly any issue, ranging from sinking grades, eating disorders, test anxiety and sleeplessness to roommate problems, depression, and alcohol/drugs — and knowing where to get that help before the problems arise is a good start. Whether or not students think they will need some sort of counseling, they should learn about their options and understand that there is no shame in seeking help because adapting to college life and adulthood is challenging, and at one point or another, we could all use some help."
Every student knows the cost of tuition, books, and room and board, but many students do not consider that there are additional costs that creep up on you during college. Over the summer, you will first encounter this when you go shopping to outfit your dorm room, if you are living on campus. Although most room items are one-time expenses, you are sure you run into expenses that you did not think of before now. For example, how much do you plan to spend on haircuts, personal supplies, clothes, socializing (such as going to movies or restaurants) and buying items you love to have at the grocery store? Start to think about how much these monthly costs will be and figure out how you can pay for them. You might anticipate working part-time or during the summer to pay for these expenses, for example.
"Seniors should also establish a financial plan which includes how they will pay for unexpected expenses and discretionary spending while in college," advises McNaughton.
But monthly expenses are just one part of developing a financial plan. College is a good time to start becoming financially independent, and you may want to start your own checking and savings accounts and possibly get a credit card to start building credit.
"Figuring out if the student will have a credit card or not, where they will bank and how they will pay for things should be done before they get on campus," says McNaugton.
Taking some time over the summer to develop a spending plan and research banks and credit cards could get you off to the right financial start once you set foot on campus in the fall.
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