dorm life

The Incoming College Freshman Checklist (What to Bring to College)

Congratulations, you’re officially a college freshman! This is both an exciting and frightening transition for most students. There are many things to do in the summer before college, and it can be difficult to know how to get ready. There are things to pack, people to say goodbye to, and forms to fill out. 

For those already stressing over this new life chapter, there are plenty of ways to prepare before even stepping foot in a classroom or dorm. We’ve compiled a list of all of the important must-do items, so if you work through it a little at a time – you’ll be done before you know it!

Before you arrive on campus, use the following checklist to make sure you stay on track:

1. Make a Commitment

Once you’ve made your decision about which college to attend, you’ll need to commit to that college. You may be able to do this online or you may have to do it in writing.

You’ll need to send in your deposit, complete and accept the financial aid application, and fill out any health forms that are required the summer before college. Be sure to read the information closely and promptly respond to all of the forms you receive from your college so as to not miss any deadlines. 

Read through your acceptance letter completely and take note of important dates. Dates to keep in mind may include:

  • Deadline to accept admission (and pay the acceptance fee, if applicable) 
  • Deadline to submit final high school transcript 
  • Deadline to take placement tests 
  • Deadline to apply for housing 
  • Deadline to file your financial aid documents 
  • Deadline to sign up for orientation 

2. Establish Housing

Since many colleges require incoming freshmen to live in dorms, chances are high you’re going to have a roommate. Whether you are living on campus in a dorm or off campus in an apartment or house, make sure you have your housing lined up as early as possible. If you’re staying on campus, see if you can request housing that is close to your classes so you can save time each day. 

If your college has assigned a roommate, reach out by phone, connect through social media, get to know each other, and coordinate on furnishing and decorating your dorm. 

If you are looking for off-campus housing, make sure you check out several locations that meet your budget and your needs. Also, be sure to read your lease in its entirety, so you know what your landlord expects.

3. Schedule a Campus Tour

You can walk around the campus on your own, but scheduling a guided tour will give you more insight into the different areas of campus and what you can expect on your first day. While you’re exploring campus, make sure you note where the emergency points and security office are located. Both parents and students should take time before the semester begins to become familiar with the campus’ safety resources and procedures.

If you’re attending a college out of state, use this time to explore your new location. Now’s the time to research the popular restaurants, the nearest theaters and music venues, the parks in your proximity; to research the history, culture, and local population; and to identify some of the neighborhoods, landmarks, attractions, and adjacent towns worth seeing.

4. Register for Orientation

Orientation for incoming students may be mandatory at your college, but if it isn’t – try your best to attend anyway. This is especially important if you haven’t been able to visit the college beforehand. Register for an early orientation to (hopefully) get the classes you want, as well as to familiarize yourself with the campus and to see your official dorm and cafeteria options firsthand.

Orientation is a crucial time to start making friends, research clubs and organizations, and get to know your campus environment. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to ask questions and get involved. It’s important to note that everyone is going through the same thing, so don’t be shy – try to make as many connections as you can. 

5. Practice Life Skills

Your parents are most likely not heading off to college with you. This means you are responsible for your cooking, cleaning, and laundry – maybe for the first time in your life. Now is a great time to practice. Take the opportunity to learn how to cook some quick and simple meals, wash and dry your clothing properly, and clean up after yourself. 

Make sure you have established a checking and savings account that you can access to pay bills or withdraw cash as needed. These essential skills will keep your life outside the classroom on track.

6. Visit Your Doctor

Get up to date on all your vaccinations; most colleges require that you submit updated vaccination information before or during your first year.

If you have a regular or essential prescription, work with your doctor to have it transferred before you leave to a pharmacy near your campus, or get a second prescription written. In general, this is a chance to get a clean bill of health, update prescriptions, and ask your doctor any pressing questions before you leave home.

7. Start Networking

If you haven’t done this already, now would be a good time to engage with your college online. It’s a great way to participate in ongoing discussions and also familiarize yourself with the culture and lingo of the college.

One of the best ways to connect with other prospective or accepted freshmen at your university is through social media. Try searching your university with your prospective class year and see if any groups exist. Add your future school onto your profile on Facebook and LinkedIn to help encourage the connections even further.

Use this time to clean up your social media and make sure everything you post online represents your best self.

  • Double check that comments made by you and your friends are positive and professional
  • Make sure all photos (not just your profile image and cover images) are appropriate
  • Set your privacy settings accordingly 

Look for ways to get involved on campus, whether you want to join a club or team (or both). Spend some time researching the clubs and organizations related to your major, or check out some of the varsity, intramural or club sports your school hosts. Get an idea of what’s available before you get to campus so you don’t waste any time once you’re there.

8. Pack, Pack, Pack! 

The best way to feel prepared for your new adventure is knowing you’re fully prepared. Explore our college packing list for dorm room and apartment essentials. 

Before you buy or pack anything, be sure to check with your school about what items are and are not allowed. Most schools have to be very careful about health and safety regulations, and rules differ from place to place. Check out our Official College Packing List (College Must-Haves), which includes dorm room essentials (or apartment essentials), school supplies for college, and other key items for move-in day.

College move-in day can be extremely thrilling and a little scary. Even though moving into the dorms, finding your classes, and adjusting to your new surroundings can be overwhelming, remember to enjoy the experience. You’ll be making friends, discovering new hobbies, and learning more about yourself than ever before in no time!

Be sure to connect with us @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!

References: 

  1. https://blog.collegeboard.org/summer-before-college-checklist
  2. https://studentaid.gov/resources/prepare-for-college/checklists/12th-grade
  3. https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-in/making-a-decision/off-to-college-checklist
  4. https://thebestschools.org/magazine/summer-before-college/
  5. https://www.nitrocollege.com/blog/4-checklists-for-college 

The Basics of Being a Good Roommate

20100407students4663Almost every college student has their fair share of roommate horror stories. What most people don’t realize, however, is that they probably have some not so great roommate qualities themselves. But don’t fear, it’s not difficult to be a good roommate! Here’s a list of roommate stereotypes, and some tips on how not to be labeled as one of them.

Pig Pen: This is almost exclusively applicable to guys. This gross person can usually be found eating in bed, or right behind his giant trash pile on the floor. Be considerate of your roommate and throw your trash in the trash can. Also, take the trash out. Otherwise, the garbage will overflow the and inevitably attract bugs….believe me, it happens all the time.

Music Show-off: Every dorm floor will have at least one of these. You can usually find them in their room bragging about their powerful sub-woofer that can shake the building, or showing off their brand new album. Please, for the love of God, be considerate of everyone else on the planet. Whether it’s quiet hours or not, there is no reason that everyone in the building needs to know what song you’re listening to. Only play music loud enough for you to hear, and if your roommate’s trying to work, or just relax, turn the volume down.

The “Borrower”: I get that it’s OUR room, but unless you ask to use something that isn’t yours, it’s not cool to use it. This rule can be completely disregarded if you’re very good friends with your roommate, in which case, do whatever you want. However, if you’re really just roommates, or acquaintances, take the time to ask before you borrow. It’s really just common courtesy.

Just remember, people aren’t always going to be exactly who you want them to be. So just relax, go with the flow and try to accept your roommate for who they are. Unless of course they’re all three of these examples in one. In which case, you should probably go ahead and move out. Have any awful roommate stories? Share them in the comments section below!

How to Resolve Conflict with a Roommate

Odds are, in college, you’re going to find yourself bickering with a roommate. Two people can only be around each other for so long before they begin to argue. The best thing to do is to understand that these arguments are going to happen before they actually happen. Here’s how to be prepared.

A fight can cause a lot of drama between two people that have to live in the same room. Arguments may spark from the tiniest things. My roommates used to argue over the dishwasher.  One of them didn’t like how the other one placed their dishes to be cleaned. She would take the dirty dishes out and rearrange them to her content instead of yelling. This is a great plan, because if you’re the one being picky, you must also be the one to compromise.

I once got into a debate with my roommate over noise. She thought I was too loud and I thought she was too sensitive. This debate lasted all year long. She would go to bed at 10 o clock on a Saturday and then expect me to be quiet when I returned home. She would also sleep away most of her afternoon and expect me to be dead silent in the middle of the day. This fight could have ended sooner if we had communicated and formed compromises.

What happens if you have a fight with a roommate that isn’t over something as simple as your living habits? I mean a REAL fight. The best thing to do in this situation is to give each other space for a while to cool off. After you cool off, try talking it out. Place yourself in their shoes and try and see their point of view. Sometimes role playing can help you understand the other person better. If they don’t want to resolve anything, then it is out of your control.  Best advice then is to find a new roomie.

In conclusion, you’re most likely going to find yourself in conflict with a roommate at some point in the year. The answer to the problem is usually just communication and compromise. Try and stay calm and speak rationally, try to understand each other. Hopefully, your conflict can be resolved and you can live peacefully once again.

-Speedy G.

I’m reading Essentials of Human Anatomy and Physiology

To Live on Campus, or Not Live on Campus: Tough Question!

Depending on where you go to school, living can be a sticky situation. If you go to a big school your options might consist of freshmen dorms, off campus apartments or houses, and potentially Greek Sorority or Fraternity houses. You may get to choose where you live—and make the tough call of staying put, or venturing off on your own. However if you go to a smaller school, your options start to change.

Smaller schools can accommodate more students because of smaller numbers—instead of 33,000 beds, you may only need a few thousand—if that. Small scale universities have large commuter, day time, and evening populations. Dormitories can be built to hold fewer students than state schools would need to, and often guarantee housing for all four years instead of offering a less than desirable lottery system.

But how do you choose where to live? If it’s mandatory to live on campus, is that a bad thing?  If you can choose whether or not to live on campus, should you? Or if you have the option to move off campus, what factors should you consider? Where does benefit vs. cost analysis kick in?

Before you toss and turn trying to figure out all of you housing worries, consider the facts. Make a pros and cons list and really weigh your options. Most campuses are different, so what may make more sense for friends studying at other schools, may not necessarily make the most sense for you!

So why live on campus? Here are my reasons: I go to a small, private institution in Philadelphia. It’s centered in an urban area, 15 minutes from center city. Housing options are limited off campus—you have to rent, buy or sublet. However, students are fortunate enough to be guaranteed housing on campus for all four years. And that’s not all! Your start in the dorms, but as you move through semesters and classes (and start to accumulate credits!) you can move up on the housing ladder. Dorms turn into apartments, and eventually your apartment turns into a townhouse with three floors. Now this isn’t the case everywhere, but you get the point. There are options for students who want to stay close, and stay put right on campus! The upkeep is taking care of, you don’t pay water and electric, you have options and space to room. Really, campus is your new backyard. The only downside? Your room and board receipt.  Maybe it’s covered in your financial aid, scholarships or loan, or maybe not. Just consider the numbers and decide if adding this portion to your bill makes sense.

If on campus isn’t for you, what else can you try? Here is my perspective– On the flip side of our cozy campus community, is the off-campus living. Students who are local, or who want slightly more freedom than dorms allow, make the move off campus. There are houses and apartments close by with owners looking to rent, or sublet to desirable students. There are factors that go into this move that students don’t often consider—safety, upkeep, costs, etc. However, when all is said and done, those who decided to become “college home owners” do okay. You can make your own rules, decorate however you want, and eat on your own plan. However, don’t forget to consider the time commitment you are signing up for! You are signing a lease or contract and become responsible for property. You are paying bills (that may or may not be cheaper than on campus alternatives), and managing the upkeep of your place. You have to cook, clean, and monitor aspects of your living life that you may not have even noticed when you were in the dorms.

Unfortunately there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to where you should live on campus. It’s mixing bowl of factors, time, and costs. You need to decide what makes the most sense for you individually and how you want to spend your time when you don’t have your head buried in a book. Do you want to share a room, are you comfortable with roommates? Can you remember to take on the trash? Will you remember to turn off lights and lock your door? Will you remember to grab your keys?

Take your time and do your research. Check out every available outlet of information on housing in your college area and decide what makes the most sense—also check requirements. Some scholarships stipulate that you live on campus, so does some financial aid! Or your campus may have a “first year” rule making it mandatory to live on campus. After that, it’s up to you! You can also choose how you decorate your room and what furniture to have—now you just have to decide where that room will be!

-Ring Queen