“Check It Off” – College Checklist

Saving & Budgeting Money

College comes with numerous expenses: food, activities, textbooks and supplies, and so on. You must be financially prepared to take care of those expenses, because being a broke college student is difficult. It always profits much to work a part-time job during high school and college, and learn how to save money from there. Here are some ways to save some dollars before and during college: use coupons from your favorite stores, whether for groceries or clothing; shop from the clearance sections or from thrift stores; shop at discount stores such as Dollar Tree or Hobby Lobby; resist the urge to buy monthly subscriptions (unless it involves your health), such as magazines, music, or software; buy used textbooks; and request gift cards from loved ones for your birthday or Christmas gift!

Aid & Scholarships

Not everyone can pay for his or her education out-of-pocket. Applying for financial aid is the best way to go if you can’t afford it on your own. If you qualify for financial aid, you may apply for specific grants, as well as “first-year student” grants. But don’t just stop there, look for scholarships based on your talents and extracurricular activities. See what your school or state have to offer. Scholarships can offer partial to full payment of tuition.

Know Your Major

Knowing what you mainly want to study in college is a huge item to check off on your college preparation checklist. Having a major gives you direction in college. What career or goals do you want to pursue after graduation? This will be your motivation, especially when things get difficult.

Talk with Your Guidance Counselors

Your high school guidance counselors play an important role in your academic career. They are there to help you succeed academically, but also help you transition into college! They can assess your abilities and interests (whether academic or non-academic), and help you choose a college based on that. They can see how many credits you currently have and how many more credits you need to graduate. Guidance counselors also offer encouragement and advice, say, if you’re overwhelmed about leaving home.

Keep Your Grades in Line!

Your grades, test scores, and GPA are a huge determining factor in what colleges choose you. The higher your performance, the better college you will get into. One of the primary things college admissions look at is academic performance, so don’t wait last-minute to open those books! Your transcript needs to reflect that you’re ready to take a college course. If your grades are low, do what you have to do to boost them: find a tutor, go to the library for additional reading if you have difficult class material, or find a study partner or join a study group with students who are more studious.

Be Open to New Environments and Experiences

College is a whole different world, and how well you do largely depends on how adaptable you are to new situations and environments. You’re coming from a campus where you know just about everyone to a campus where all faces are new. If being surrounded by novel faces induces anxiety, you can see about applying to the same college as some of your friends. You can also look at enrolling at universities in your own city. This is a good option if you can’t cope with being completely by yourself.

Consider Your Student Life after You Get in College

Staying in touch with loved ones will keep you grounded and sane during your journey into adulthood. Invite them onto campus for lunch, dinner, or campus activities.

Save your dollars! As stated before, college is expensive, with food (unless you have a meal plan), student fees, and convenience-store prices. You can apply for a work-study loan to help you get income during college, or find a part-time job that fits your student schedule to keep money in your pocket. It will come in handy!

Find a place of relaxation where you can get some alone time and discover yourself.

Remember, college isn’t all super-serious. It’s okay and healthy to have fun and enjoy yourself every now and then. But don’t let fun get in the way of your studies!


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