Top 10 Tips to Help Your Freshman Adjust to College

This is a great time to get your clothes and room in order, to go through and decide what you want to pack and take to college and what you do not want to take. Be sure that you send ahead some personal items that will remind you of home, and reflect your personality in your room, such as pictures of family and friends, your high school yearbook, posters and sticky stuff, a Texas flag, personal knick knacks, a stuffed animal, book ends, and decorations that are fun! Go through and see that you have enough jeans, shirts, shorts and comfortable shoes to get you through until Thanksgiving or until you get home. Be sure to have sweaters, a jacket, hat and gloves, if you are going to colder climate. Pack everything in suitcases that will fit into each other, for easy storage and don’t take too much as dorm closets are usually small. Get multi-tiered shorts and pants hangers so that they will take up less room.

Check with the college in advance to see if you have the right programs on your computer, or if you need to add them. If you are purchasing a laptop computer before going to school, you can have the same system as the university has put on your computer. Find out what accessories you will need in advance to get your computer system going, including getting a lock to keep your computer safe in the dorm. Bring up extension cords and any other devices you need and be sure and pack some tools to get it installed. Find out from your roommate if they will be bringing up a printer, if you want to share.

Plan on being in the city a few days before everyone else, so you can show your family around the dorm, school and city, before you get excited and want to meet your roommate and move in. Plan on going to a bank to establish credit before everyone else is there; have your new address with you and have your parents bring up a check to deposit. Go to a discount store and purchase school supplies, hangers, detergent, desk lamp, light bulbs, dorm refrigerator, microwave, and any other linens or towels you may need. Be sure to stock up on water bottles, juice, healthy snacks, etc. while you have a car there to go and get some of these things.

This is a great time before you get to school to go over finances with your parents and learn how to manage your money, how to write out checks, balance your checkbook, see how much money you will have for your expenses, learn how to pay bills, and to find a bank on-line, closest to your dorm, where they offer a free student checking account, and make an appointment to meet with a bank officer upon your arrival. Remember to get a large envelope to organize your cancelled checks and another envelope to keep all of your receipts for all purchases in, especially textbooks, which you may want to sell back after the semester.

Start making your lists of what you will need and look for small boxes to send up some of your larger items if you are not driving to school. You may want to purchase a pillow, bedspread, towels or twin extra long sheets in advance, and then have the store pay for shipping and send it directly up to your dorm address. Be sure it arrives one or two days before you get there. It is a good idea to get oversized bath towels and to use a permanent marker to put your last name on the label of sheets and towels. Check with your roommate to see if there is a certain color or décor that you both want to coordinate. This is a great way to start a conversation when you find out who your roommate is. Get a plastic shoe box and pack first aid and medicines in it to take up; such as medicine for stomach aches, sore throats, colds, cough drops, band-aids, etc. and you will find it comes in handy. Make a list and mark off when you pack or send things.

After you receive word on who your roommate is, call and introduce yourself and start the conversation, by asking what they will be planning on bringing to the dorm, so you don’t have two of the same thing. You may want to see if one person is bringing up a stereo, and another can bring a television set. Or you may want to see if one person will buy a dorm refrigerator and the other will purchase a microwave. You may want to purchase a dorm rug, coordinate colors or motifs. It is fun to send pictures of each other and e-mail each other to establish a connection and relationship before getting up to school. After you meet, be sure to set up mutual ground rules for cooperation and understanding, keeping the lines of communication open.

This is a great time to show your parents that you have the responsibility to go to college. Start doing your own laundry so you will learn how to do it. Be sure to clean out the pockets of your shirts and pants before putting them in the laundry. Start saving quarters and dimes for the laundry machine to take up to school. Start changing your linens and keeping your room neat at home and pick up after yourself. Use good time management and balance your work and play. Do not spend what you do not have and use sound financial management. Give attention to your siblings and parents and let them know they will be missed.

You will be walking a mile or two easily every day once you start school, so get in shape several weeks before leaving by exercising and walking. Break in comfortable walking shoes before you get to school, and have more than one or two good pairs of shoes that you can wear for school. Eat right and get enough rest so that you have established good habits before going to school.

Make a list of goals you want to accomplish during your freshman year and write them down on index cards so you can remind yourself what your priorities are and list ways to achieve them. This is a great time for you to think about re-inventing yourself at school as no one at college has pegged you as a “popular vs. not-popular student” “nerd” or any other label, so this is the time to go into a new environment filled with confidence and present yourself in a way you want to be seen. Figure out who you are and then be comfortable with yourself and be ready to embrace new experiences with a positive attitude.

This is the time for you to think about how you will handle your new found freedom and independence with responsibility, how you will make an effort to make new friends, and how to balance your social life with your academic life. You need to think about how you can use your time wisely and when you will need to say no. You need to learn how to deal with stress, and learn how to separate from home, with parents who have always been there to take care of you. You need to be self-motivated and attend orientation, all classes and keep up with all assignments. You will need to learn how to get along with a roommate and how to set limits with each other, being respectful of differences. You need to use good judgment and make wise decisions.

Success Story:

“I can’t imagine going through the college admissions process without the guidance and expertise of Mrs. Kaufman. Not only did she inspire me to produce excellent work she gave me the confidence to always believe in myself. She made me feel so proud of my accomplishments and I knew I could trust her to help me make the right choice. It’s not easy for me to open up to people, but I feel extremely comfortable talking to Mrs. Kaufman. She has the warmest heart and truly loves what she does. I value her opinion and I have such respect for her advice. I am currently a freshman in college and I have already called her for more advice. She is awesome! Thanks Marilyn for all your unconditional support and for believing in me…I couldn’t have done it without you!”

Annie Jackson

Student at University of Texas, Austin