You know where you’re going, so what’s next?

First some insights from my favorite college student, Scott Visy:

If you plan to rush, ask friends and friends of your parents to write your Recs.

GOOD ADVICE

ACADEMICS

Textbooks – buying from your school’s bookstore can be very expensive.  Consider renting, especially for your non-major classes.  Check out these sites and use the ISBN number to get the correct version.

Professors – research your options before registration.  Look up professors on Rate My Professors and try to find a course syllabus.  Set yourself up for success.  If you’re a good writer and struggle with multiple choice, look for classes with papers and essay tests.  Don’t take too many heavy reading courses in one semester and give yourself a balance of easy and hard courses, ones you find interesting and ones that are required.

Transfer Credit – Taking your “weaker subjects” at a community college or online from another school can be an inexpensive way to get credit for core requirements without the grade calculated into your GPA.  Check with your school’s policy and get pre-approval.  High school Juniors & Seniors may benefit from acclimating to a college setting and getting ahead on courses.

MONEY

Take advantage of Discounts for College Students

Budget and live within your means.  Try Mint or another free budgeting app.

Many banks offer free student checking accounts.  Know how to balance it & add to savings as you are able.

Use Venmo or other app to settle up with friends and family.

Most schools charge a flat tuition rate for 12-18 hours.  Do the math, but it may make sense to take 16-18 hours each semester to maximize your value and work during Christmas & Summer breaks rather than 12 hours with a part-time job during the school year.

Find out if you school charges a service charge for putting tuition on a credit card.  Ex:  Alabama state schools do not, so it’s a great way to accumulate credit card points.  Just make sure to pay it off when the bill comes to avoid high credit card interest rates.

Open a credit card to begin establishing credit.  Make sure to pay off each month!

MEDICAL 

Find your Urgent Care & Hospital and save the contact so you know where to go in case of emergency.  Things to consider:  Facilities are on your insurance plan, hours of Urgent Care, ratings/reviews, distance.

Learn how your college health center works – is it included in your tuition or covered by your health insurance?  What is its reputation?  (Our children did not have good experiences at either college they attended and received better care at Urgent Care facilities).

Don’t forget to take your insurance cards and medical history.

LEGAL MATTERS

In the unfortunate event of an emergency, certain legal documents need to be in order.  Critical Documents for College Students stresses the importance of a Power of Attorney and HIPAA Release.

DORM ROOM

See my recent blog.

WHEN YOU ARRIVE

Balance is the key!  This will likely be the time in your life with the most discretionary time – use it wisely and enjoy work and fun.  My son was advised at Orientation to treat college like a 9-5 job, then evenings and weekends can be filled with fun and activities.

Look for quality relationships and activities, not quantity.

Seek out friendships that will last a lifetime.  I am so thankful that mine are still a huge part of my life 36 years later.

Develop your faith.  Get involved in a local church with community groups and check-out a campus ministry (RUF, CRU, Intervarsity, Navigators, Young Life).  Read Your College Choice by Todd Lesher.

Get involved in service opportunities via a campus organization or directly with a local non-profit.  Stretch beyond your campus, become “other-focused,” and contribute to your community.

Get to know your professors personally and network for your future.

FOR PARENTS

Move in day is emotional & exhausting!  A few tips:

  • Enjoy a good breakfast together & get hydrated.
  • Let your child be in charge & help set things up the way he/she wants.
  • Don’t linger with goodbyes.
  • When you leave, stop for a treat or do something fun before heading home.

Travel

  • Sign up for the reward program of your favorite hotel.
  • Book hotel rooms far in advance for Move-in, Parents’ Weekend, football games, Graduation, and any other times you may visit.
  • Use hotel points for high-priced weekends.
  • Consider AirBNB and VRBO.

Resources

Roots & Wings