A little college preparation goes a long way.

College-prep essentials


Reading your college acceptance letter can feel like an emotional rollercoaster, moving from anxiety and excitement to triumph and relief in the time it takes to spot the word “congratulations.”

Of course, after being accepted, you may find yourself feeling a different emotion entirely: worry. After all, heading off to college is a big life change, and there’s plenty you need to sort out before attending your first class.

Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Check out our college preparation checklist for first-time students:

Your first order of business should be taking care of your finances. Beyond costs like tuition and textbooks, keep other expenses in mind, such as those associated with room and board.

Make sure you apply for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible. Also reach out to your new school to find out about potential scholarship opportunities, payment plans and other financial aid options or requirements.

And remember, you haven’t left high school just yet. Talk to your high school counselors for more information on ways to pay for college.

Figuring out your living arrangements should come next. In general, most college students either live at home with their parents, or find accommodations in a college dorm, off-campus apartment or fraternity or sorority house.

Not all options may be available to brand new students. For example, some colleges require freshmen to live on campus for a specific period of time.

Find out what your school allows and weigh your options. While you may be excited to break away and gain some independence, if your school is close to home, commuting may make the most sense. Also consider how different living arrangements will impact your finances. For example, on-campus living arrangements may come complete with meal plans that can help you save money.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to decide on a major or career path on day one.

First, find out the enrollment dates for your school and make sure you register for classes by the appropriate deadline. In general, you’ll want to register as early as possible to make sure you reserve a spot.

Next, review your college’s course catalog. If you already have a major picked out, you can begin signing up for classes that meet its general requirements. Otherwise, focus on classes everyone is required to take, such as core math, English and history courses.

Be smart with your schedule. Enrolling in too many classes or choosing inconvenient class times is a recipe for poor academic performance.

Leaving for college can be a scary time for many students. Just remember your university has staff on hand to answer your questions and guide you every step of the way. Never hesitate to reach out for information or advice.

Finally you can focus on the task giving you and more than 20 million other American college students anxiety: Choosing the right outfit for freshmen orientation.

Good luck!

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