4,3,2,1… The Final Week Before College

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Freshmen year

Hey there fellow freshman! How are you feeling knowing that it is your final week before you move into your new home away from home? Have you been packing thousands of bags and furniture to load into your family car, and going to a goodbye parties to say goodbye to your best friends and closest family? Maybe even a Bruce Springsteen concert at Met Life Stadium? Here is what my last week looked like.

Your Last Days Before College

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Day 4:

“I have never cried as much as I did today” I sobbed to my mom from across the kitchen. Today was the day that my two best friends left for the University of Miami and it finally hit me that we will be 1,368 miles apart from each other. At this point, I think my mother finally started realizing that all of her daughter’s friends (or what she considers her second children) were not around anymore. Also, I think it hit her that her own daughter is leaving in less than a week. After both of my closest friends left, I did realize something, though: even though my friends are 21 hours away by car, I believe it made our friendship even closer than before.

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Day 3:

What better way to spend your last few days then to go to a Bruce Springsteen concert!? “It was one of the best concerts I have ever been to” my dad said. My family and I are huge Boss fans and it was something I wish I could do all over again. We enjoyed each others company over some hot dogs and Mrs. Feild’s cookies. And this night was special for another reason — “Bruce Springsteen breaks his own record for longest US concert” as cited by the New York Post. I will never forget the smile my family had when walking out of the stadium and it is a memory I will take with me to college and cherish forever.

Bruce Springsteen Concert

Day 2:

GIRLS DAY! Nails, lunch date and having the hardest goodbyes… what more could I have asked for? Today was one of the saddest days ever because I said goodbye to so many people at one time. Spending the last few hours with my friends was such a special moment and time in my life.

Friends

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Day 1:

Besides crying for hours last night on how much I am going to miss my best friends, the last people I said my goodbyes to was my family. Instead of having our normal family sit down dinner, my mom and dad thought it would be a great idea to take my sister and I out to our favorite sushi restaurant. What better way to end my final night with family than at my favorite restaurant? Besides saying goodbye to my family, I know the one thing I am going to miss a lot is all of my mom’s help – from laundry to waking me up before my alarm!

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I love you mom and dad. Thanks for everything.

 How did you guys spend your last week of college? I hope you’re settling into your new schools!

Our Favorite Care Packages for Students Going Off to College

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Care packages

Saying goodbye, whether for a week or an entire semester, can be hard on any parent or loved one of a college student. There just aren’t enough ways to say that you care or to wish them luck. One idea is to send them off with a care package perfect for their new dorm room and fast paced, independent lifestyle. These four are our favorite “Off to College” packages made with any college student in mind.

1.   Homesick Helper

Sure, you may be empty nesting, but your college student may be having an equally hard time adjusting to being away from home. Homesickness is particularly powerful for new college students and dorm-dwellers. Freshman, in particular, can feel very lonely or isolated during the first semester.

That’s why the Homesick Helper is one of our favorite packages out there. Made with love and your college student in mind, the package is loaded with their favorite snacks. From childhood favorites like Bazooka Gum to essentials like Kellogg’s granola bars, they’ll be covered with any comfort food and snack craving they may have.

2.   Welcome Package and Move In Mug

Moving in can be a difficult and emotional process. It takes a ton out of you, and in the end, you’re left with a space to fill with new memories. Care packages like the Welcome Package and Move In Mug is a great way to make the move in process a little easier and the space a bit more homier.

In the care package, you’ll get a mini package full of not only favorite treats (popcorn, Oreos, Pop-Tarts), but also drink mixes, all in a cute “move-in” bag. The mug crosses off one of their ‘must-have’ items off of their packing list, and they come to associate it this special day where they’re surrounded and supported by the ones they love the most.

3.   Grooming Personal Care Collection

Care packages don’t have to be all about food and drinks or cute toys and cards. Sometimes, your college student needs and wants the practical, essential supplies to round out their new home. The two Grooming Personal Care Collections are about as much “care” as you can get when it comes to move in packages.

The Nitty Gritty is made for the guys with a mixture of Axe and Dove men products. As an added bonus, you’ll get a shower tool with detailer, deep clean facial scrub, and Schick Hydro 5 razors for a clean shave when they need to impress. Ladies have their own version called the Primp it Pretty with Dove, St. Ives, Schick, and Simple products. Girls will love facial wipes for makeup, oatmeal scrub face masks, and Colgate Optic White products for a memorable smile.

4.   Year Full of Love Care Package Plan

Maybe you can’t decide what package to get. Maybe you think one package is just not enough. Maybe you feel like your student will need encouragement all year round. There’s a package that will wow and surprise them well past move in day — the Year Full of Love Care Package Plan.

Not just one, two, or three, this plan has our top rated, most popular packages for almost every occasion throughout the year. For the Fall semester alone, you’ll be sending a package for move in day, Halloween, finals, and a “just because” version. For the spring semester, your plan includes a package for Valentine’s Day and spring finals. Each comes with a personalized card where you can leave a message tailored to the student and the occasion.

Move-in Series: 1 Week Away from College Move-in Day

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College Move in Day Advice

Welcome back to the move-in series! We’re a week away from move-in day so there’s no time to waste. For those of you, who haven’t been keeping up with the series, allow me to explain: this is part four of a five part series that gives step by step instructions for high school grads preparing for move-in day at college. With only one week left to go, it’s time to tie up any loose ends and take care of those last minute tasks.

Step 1: Clean up

Before you leave, make sure your room is clean. Do yourself a favor here and don’t leave behind a messy room. You may not be coming home for a while, but when you do, a clean room is everything.  Not only is it rewarding, but making sure your room is spotless is the responsible thing to do. You may not be living at home anymore, but your family members do. So set aside some time to clean, and don’t cut any corners. You won’t regret it.

Step 2: Going away party

Don’t forget about those last goodbyes! Throw a going away party and invite your friends and family. Even if your school is nearby, it may be that you won’t get to see everyone again until winter break. If the weather’s nice, have a cook out with games and music. If not, you could invite everyone inside and have a potluck. Feel like going out on a budget? Take every one out to Dave & Buster’s with a group deal. Or keep things small and under budget with a family dinner.

Step 3: Medicine

Are you prescribed medication? Do you have an emergency inhaler? Whatever the case may be, make sure you have all of your prescriptions filled and secure. When packing, store the medicine in your carry-on bag or someplace where you’ll have immediate access to it. After you move in, store the medication in a safe place. And if you feel the need, let your roommate know about your medical condition and what to do in case of an emergency.

Step 4: Last minute packing

Do you see that overflowing basket of laundry in the corner? How about that closet full of shoes? It’s time to take care of all of your last minute packing! Pack those lack minute items such as clothes, electronics, and keepsakes. Next, pull out that checklist for another look. Go through the entire list and make sure that everything is accounted for. Also, get rid of any items that you deem unnecessary. This will help to lighten the load and save space in your dorm. Stay organized by keeping all of your bags and boxes in one area of the house. Be sure to label everything so that you know what’s fragile and what’s not. Consider shipping some things if you need to lighten the load. Always update the checklist and stay on top of your belongings.

Step 6: Say hello

Reach out to any contacts you made at student orientation; start texting your other friends and make plans for your first few nights on campus. There’s bound to be plenty of events going on so ask around. And where there are events, there is free food, and everyone loves free food. If you can’t find anything to do on campus (which is unlikely) spend a night out on the town, and explore all of the shops and restaurants. If you want to stay in, plan a movie night and make sure there are plenty of snacks to go around. Whatever you plan on doing, be inclusive and make new friends.

Step 7: Back it up

Backup computer contents to a hard drive, in case something happens during the move. Also, backup phone contents in order to make lots of room for new memories! Now, it’s easier than ever with the iCloud feature and others like it. If you’re not a fan of the cloud, stop by the store to pick up an external hard drive. However, once you get to college, you may find that manually backing up everything is just a pain. Check out OCM’s Campus Backup software that will automatically back up your e-mails, term papers, lecture notes, presentations, and as an added benefit, all your photos and music.

Step 8: Paperwork & textbooks

Take care of any last minute paperwork for school. Don’t forget to take any important forms with you! How about textbooks? Print out your textbook list and start searching! Check online vendors before settling for the bookstores retail price.

Step 9: Thank You Cards

Write thank you cards for your family and friends. There are plenty of reasons to be thankful for: moral support, financial help, grad gifts, etc. It’s a nice touch and a thank you card never goes unnoticed.

Move-in Series: 2 Weeks Away from College Move-in Day

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Move into College

Welcome back to the move-in series! We’re now just two weeks away from move-in day and the finish line is in sight. For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with the series, allow me to explain: this is part three of a four part series that gives step by step instructions for high school grads preparing for move-in day at college. We share plenty of helpful tips and tricks to help high school grads transition from their bedroom to their dorm room. Here’s seven helpful steps to follow when you’re two weeks away from move-in day.

Step 1: The Checklist

Whether you printed out one of our college ready lists, or made one of your own, it’s time to pull it out and look it over. Once again, go through your checklist and make sure you have everything you need. Order those last minute items with expedited shipping or make a run to the store. Don’t forget about food! Be sure to add food to your list. If you plan on making a run to the grocery store before move-in day, avoid buying perishable foods. Hold off on buying food like fresh fruit until you find a place to store it in your dorm.

Step 2: Pack, Pack, Pack

By now you should have most of your belongings packed and ready to go. Anything that you are not currently using should be packed, with the exception of items such as clothing, toiletries, and the like. Be careful of fragile items like picture frames and electronics. If you don’t have any bubble wrap lying around (and most of us don’t), use a few spare towels to wrap up fragile items. Stay organized while you pack by labeling your boxes and bags.  Keep all of your packed belongings in a designated spot at home as to avoid misplacing anything.

Step 3: Move-in day plan

How will you get to college? Are you moving in alone? How will you fit everything into the car? These are the kinds of questions that you should consider. If you’re taking a car, plan on loading it up the night before. Perhaps it would just be easier to ship everything or rent a truck. Once there, you need to figure out how you will move everything in. Ask your family members, friends, and roommate for help. If you’re moving in alone, consider hiring movers. Don’t hurt yourself trying to lug everything up to your dorm! Stay on track by creating a schedule for move-in day. It doesn’t have to be super detailed, but have general sense of when you want to leave, how long you want to spend unpacking, etc. Consider setting aside some time to go out to eat with your family. Think of it as a last meal and a final goodbye. Also, you want to leave plenty of time for yourself to explore the campus and attend events.

Step 4: Freshen up

New school, new home, why not a new hairdo? Get a haircut to look fresh for your first week as an undergrad; consider a whole new ‘do as you redefine your persona away from home. While you’re at it, spice up your wardrobe with a trip to the mall. Pick out a new outfit or two and arrive in style on move-in day!

Step 5: College Prep

Print out your schedule and book list. Start browsing around for textbooks and see if you can find a fair price. Buying used is a great way to save money and you can always sell the books back! Be advised that not all professors teach by the book…literally. If the book is only “recommended” or “suggested” you may not need it. Before you buy that $300 textbook, send your professor an email and ask if the book is required.  On the flip side, do not walk into class empty handed if the book is required for the course. Getting ahold of an in-demand textbook during the semester is a struggle. For a full guide to textbook shopping, check out the post Textbooks 101 for College Classes on our blog.

Step 6: Create a college bucket list

Make a list of all the things you want to accomplish and achieve at college. Perhaps you want to go on an overnight hike. Maybe you want to get straight A’s your first semester. Once you’ve come up with about ten goals, pin the list up on the wall. At the end of each semester, cross out what you’ve accomplished and add new goals. Hold yourself responsible for completing what you set out to do. Want to have even more fun? Share the list with your friends and ask them to go along with you on your adventures.

Step 7: Research student services

Check out all the student services offered at your school. Need help building your résumé? Not sure what career you want to pursue? Luckily for you, student services are available to help you with these things and more! Looking for an internship? Check with student services to see what contacts they have. You may be far from home, but help is right around the corner!

Home Away from Home: Your Last Summer Before College

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Home away from Home

Hey fellow soon-to-be Freshmen, where is your new home for the fall and spring semesters this year? Whether it is Quinnipiac University (which is where I will be attending), The University of Miami or Arizona State — no matter how far — this is now your home away from home.

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The Hardest Thing about Leaving for School

What is one of the hardest things about going off to college for the first time? Well easiest answer: leaving all your closest family and friends. I am not sure if I am by myself but I know the one person I can’t live without is my sister. My sister and I are inseparable — so how am I going to live without her for a few months!? Great question. Even if my sister and I don’t see eye to eye sometimes, I know she is the one person that I will have to call daily for personal updates — because she is my best friend who will be there for me through every mistake and every heartbreak I will eventually have. I haven’t even said goodbye to her and it breaks my heart knowing that the person I live right next door to will now be so many miles away.

GIF via Giphy

 

Then there’s the “I can’t wait to get away from my parents and move away to college already”

As much as sometimes we don’t want admit it, no matter what, your parents are your parents and you love them. Don’t listen to that line that everyone says because they are the ones probably paying for your tuition and giving you everything you probably ever wanted. Even though you’re on your own at school, don’t forget to call your parents. Personal admission: it frightens me that my mom is not going to be my personal alarm clock to wake me up in the morning before school and tell me to get up and out of bed. I know it is embarrassing that my mom still makes my lunch, but what kind of a person would I be if I didn’t have her helping me distinguish right and wrong?

College Moms

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You also can’t forget about your dad who is the one making the practical jokes about mom being stressing out her first born is going off to college. I know I am going to miss the morning update if my favorite sports team won lasts night’s game, or on the presidential debates.

Friendship

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So many things are juggling through not only my mind but the thousands of other incoming freshman about to leave for college. Like, what are my classes going to be like? Are finals going to be hard? What if I don’t make it into a sorority? What happens if my roommate and I don’t get along? What happens if I am home sick? What if I don’t make any friends? Not seeing the same faces everyday from 8 am until 3 pm is going to be a big change…

My best friend is going to be extremely hard to leave behind, but I will also truly miss my newest friends, who are my coworkers from my summer day camp job. I’ll miss laughing, crying and cracking up about the daily ins and outs of working with kids at a summer camp.

Saying Goodbye

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It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over and college is almost beginning! According to BeBe Rhexa, it’s now “its just me, myself and I”.

 

Move-in Series: 1 Month Out (aka Grind-time)

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Move in series 2

We’re back again with our Move-in Series. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, we are providing a step by step guide for high school grads preparing to move into the residence halls. Now that we’re a month away from move-in day, it’s time to knuckle down and take care of business. Follow the eight steps below to make the most of your time at home!

Step 1: Shopping Online

You still have plenty of time to order online and have things shipped before move-in day. Remember to stick to your budget, and pick out a dorm-room style that really speaks to you. Tip: don’t leave this till the last minute! You don’t want to end up settling for a last minute in-store purchase of something essential like your bedding or rug. Also, make sure you know how long items will take to ship in order to keep everything organized.

Be sure to check out OCM for the best deals and giveaways. Enter to win OCM’s Room Goals Instant Win Giveaway and stay tuned for future giveaways! Our blog and social media pages will keep you in the loop with all of the new products as well as college life advice.

Step 2: Professional Tasks

If you’re working a summer job, it’s almost time to put in your two weeks’ notice. Don’t wait until the last couple of days to quit your job. Leave on a good note so that you have a reference to put on your résumé – because perhaps you want to come back next summer and work again. Either way, make the right choice and give at least two weeks’ notice.

The next task is to build or update your résumé. A strong résumé should reflect your academic and professional achievements. You are bound to make connections in college both personally and professionally. So keep that résumé up to date; you won’t regret it! Take a look at our blog for more résumé help and advice.

Step 3: Network

Want to avoid that awkward silence when you first meet your roommate? Reach out to your roommate via text or social media. Before you get lost in conversation about who knows what, be sure to ask them about their plans for move-in day. Matter of fact, there are 11 essential questions that you need to ask. You’ll be spending a lot of time together over the course of the next year or two, so get friendly!

Talk to them about the serious stuff too. Let them know if you have any sort of medical condition in advance – that way, if something were to go wrong, they will know how to help.

Also, don’t be scared to reach out to your fellow classmates! You’re not the only one going off to college for the first time. You’re all in this together so make the most of it. It’s always comforting to see friendly faces in a new environment.

Step 4:  College Life

Do you want to be a part of Greek life? Are you interested in joining a club? Looking for inexpensive places to eat on campus? Start researching places to go and things to do before you arrive. Familiarize yourself with the school’s social media pages. That way, you can stay up to date with all the events going on around campus!

Make a list of things you want to get done freshman year. This is your time to explore, meet new people, and experience all that college life has to offer. Be adventurous and go outside of your comfort zone! Most importantly, don’t let this year pass you by. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to rock climbing — so do some research, pick a date, and take a new friend!

Step 5: Practice Makes Perfect

Let’s be honest, no one likes doing laundry. But you’re going to have to do it in college so you better practice while you’re at home. Continue to hone these skills that you will need to live on your own.

And with one month left, it’s time to take a hard look in the mirror. Take a minute and do a self-evaluation. Are you a messy person? How well do you get along with others? Keep in mind you will be sharing a room with someone new. Don’t be that messy roommate who forgets to do the dishes or take out the trash. Identify your bad habits, and work on breaking them while you still have time!

Step 6: Make a Quick Buck

As you sort through your belongings, put aside items that you no longer need. Sell these items online to make some quick cash. However, make sure you don’t sell off items that you plan on using after college, such as furniture. Consider selling old electronics, clothes, sports gear, and other items you might not need.

Now’s also a good for a short-term, part-time job like dog walking or babysitting. Check local listings and put up flyers around town. You may be surprised at just how profitable this type of work can be.

Step 7: Family & Friends

Don’t forget to spend time with those closest to you! Ask your family to go out for dinner. Plan a road trip with your friends. Whatever you do, make sure you spend some quality time with your family and friends! You might not be seeing them as much once you leave for school, so now’s the perfect time to spend time with them before the big move.

Step 8: College Registration & Other Deadlines

Have you kept up with all the due dates and deadlines for college registration? Keep in mind that scholarships and financial aid may take time to process and require you to manually log-in and accept any rewards. Don’t miss out on potential financial aid or a work study grant because you missed the acceptance deadline! Set reminders and check your college email daily. Take care of any paper work and send it in – you won’t want to be stuck doing this the first week of school.

Keep updating your class schedule as move-in day draws closer. Not sure what classes you should register for? Reach out to an academic adviser for assistance or reference your degree requirements. Figure out what times and professors work best for you. There are plenty of websites that rate professors so check those out before committing to a three-hour night class with one professor. Make sure you plan around your athletics and/or club activities. You might also want to consider scheduling a rest day to break up the week. It will help cut down on stress and can act as a great time to study or catch up with friends.

The Pros and Cons of Taking a Gap Year Before College

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Gap Year

When word broke that U.S. President Obama’s oldest daughter Malia was heading off to college, the world went nuts. But it wasn’t just because she was following her dad’s footsteps and going to Harvard. It was because she announced she would be taking a gap year before attending. Gap years, which are very common in Europe and South America, is time taken off between graduating high school and going to college. It usually lasts a year or two, and like the decision to go back to school right away, has some major pros and cons. Here’s what you should consider if you’re thinking of following Malia’s lead.

Pros of Taking a Gap Year

Take a Break

Let’s start with a question: After eight years of elementary school and four high school, how do you really feel? You’re almost certainly stressed, tired, and not really “in” it. That’s what gap year is for! It’s all about taking time for yourself to refresh your batteries and put the brakes on the formal learning process.

Explore

Gap years can also be informative. In Europe, most students use this time to travel and see the world. If gap year is for you, consider saving up for a backpack adventure with a friend or a road trip around the United States. You may find a whole side of life you never knew was out there — and you won’t have to wait four years to do it.

Give Back

It’s also customary to use a gap year to volunteer. Take on a big project locally or travel abroad to go really large with your giving. Making a difference while you kick back looks amazing on a resume or college application.

Save

But if volunteering isn’t for you, start your career early with an entry-level position. Save this income to pay off the next few year’s tuition in advance. You’ll thank yourself when your friends get their first student loan bills in the mail.

 

Cons of a Gap Year

It’s Complicated

Most schools in the United States are still not used to gap schools and are not in the position to give you an admissions answer a year in advance. You may have to do over the application process again or, if possible, ask for deferred admission.

Being Behind Schedule

Your friends will graduate before you. They’ll likely get jobs before you as well or move out of the house earlier. If you’re worried about missing out on those experiences or sticking with the normal timeline, a gap year isn’t for you.

You Might Not Want to Go Back

This is where it helps to know yourself. If you’re not that motivated to go to college (but need to anyway for your career), taking a gap year can be dangerous. At worst, it can take away the incentive to go back to school. Sometimes taking time off can cause us to procrastinate or help obstacles and distractions, such as a decent paying job, get in our way.

You’ll Need to Explain

While it most likely won’t happen, a future interviewer may notice the gap between college and a job. It may also come up when re-applying for school. However, you can always show the pros above to convince them that this was the plan for you and that you made the most of your gap year.

Move-in Series: 2 Months Out (aka How to Get Through the Longest Summer Vacation)

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Move in 2 months out

The days, weeks, and even months leading up to the start of college can be tough. Plagued with an incurable case of senioritis, high school seniors often catch themselves doodling shopping lists and dorm room layout designs in class, daydreaming about what it would be like to pledge Greek, and longing for the days of no morning classes. We’re right there with you!

It’s hard to be patient when there is so much to look forward to. To encourage that enthusiasm, we’ll be sharing a Move-in Series specifically for students like you, that helps you to tackle all the to-do’s before moving away to college. To get you prepped and ready for move-in day, we’re going to take you through five stages. From two months away to move-in day, we’ve got you covered. Here, let’s discuss how to kick off your last summer before freshman year!

Step 1: College Registration

You may have been accepted into college, but you’re still ways away from the start of fall semester. That doesn’t mean you can’t be thinking ahead! First things first, take care of any paperwork for your school, financial aid, and/or scholarships. Get the most boring stuff out of the way first, so it’s out of sight and out of mind. While you’re at it, don’t forget to setup your college email! Check it often so you don’t miss out on any important notifications from your department or residence hall RA. Lastly, sign up for your classes early! Popular professors and time slots fill up fast, so even if you’re schedule is tentative, sign up. Dropping or adding a class is easier to do early on.

Step 2: Get your money right

Before you start shopping for all your college needs, make sure you have your finances in order. If you haven’t done so already, open up a bank account. Take care of any student loan or credit card applications. You might even apply for your first credit card to increase your credit score.

Next, build a budget that takes into account all of your income and expenses. Keep in mind a time frame for your budget. Are you budgeting for the initial dorm expenses, your first semester, or your entire freshmen year? Consider what it’ll cost for a meal plan, books, dorm supplies, clothes, etc. Plan for those big ticket items and set aside some emergency funds. Figure out what you can afford and stick to that budget!

Step 3: Gather inspiration for your dorm room

Browse around OCM and check out all of the possible color combinations for your room. If you want to add a personal touch, plan some Do It Yourself projects. Print out some pictures of family and friends to put on display. Perhaps you could even create a vision board for your room! The point is to get an idea of what you want your room to look like so you may shop smart!

Step 4: The checklist

The question “What do I need for college?” may seem like a daunting one. The easiest way to approach the checklist is by splitting everything up into two categories: things to bring and things to buy. Consider what you will bring from home: toiletries, back pack, alarm clock, photos, keepsakes, etc. Then, keeping your budget in mind, consider what you’ll have to buy: bedding, furniture, storage trunks/containers, school supplies, etc. Whatever you decide to bring with you, make sure everything will fit in your new digs. Dorms are not huge living quarters, and many come furnished. With limited space, it’s important that you pack accordingly. We have our own college packing checklist that you can print out and use to help you plan!

Step 5: Start shopping

With your moving checklist list ready to go (or at least a work in progress), begin shopping for your dorm and school supplies! You might be surprised at how long it takes to gather and pack everything you need, so it helps to get started as early as possible.

Ordering online is hassle-free, but you have to account for time and money spent on shipping. Also, if you were to forget an item or need to return one, having an extra month to do so is beneficial. As far as packing goes, it’s not a priority at this stage. However, you should go over your checklist from time to time, adding items when necessary, and reminding yourself of what you still need to buy and pack.

Step 6: Preparing for life away from home

You may not be a jack of trades, but you should know basics for living on your own. That means learning to do your laundry, cooking a dorm-friendly meal, and basic car maintenance if you plan to bring your car to campus. The best way to practice these skills is by doing it at home!

Ask your family and friends for help when you get stuck, but be sure to try each of these things on your own. After all, you may not have guidance when you go to do it yourself in school! You need to put in the effort now to learn so it will come as second nature in college. If you are forgetful, or just can’t find the time, put together a schedule. Designate days and times for doing laundry, cooking meals, and whatever else you need to practice.

Step 7: Spend time with family & friends

Planning for college can be stressful, but it’s important to make time for family and friends. After all, you are moving away in two months! Don’t know what do or where to go? Plan a trip to the beach, go on a hike, or just hang out. Whatever you do, enjoy the time spent with your family and friends, making and documenting memories you can think back to when you’re miles apart.

 

High School Students: What Does it Take to Get Into College?

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Getting into College

It may be summer, but as a high schooler, you probably have one thing on your mind: getting into your dream college. However, dreaming about your acceptance letter is just one part of the equation. Planning and working towards that stellar application requires a lot of work and foresight — and it begins today. These tips will help you prepare by showing you what it takes to get into college.

 

High School Students: What Does It Take to Get Into College?

Grades

If you want to get into a good school, you’re going to need to show them what you’re made of by bringing along an excellent report card. That doesn’t mean just passing; it means achieving. The more prestigious the school, the better grades in the tougher classes will be expected.

If you had a bad semester or you just can’t seem to ace your math courses, don’t sweat it too hard. College admissions counselors don’t solely weigh your GPA. They also want to see that if you failed, you managed to pick yourself up again.

Test grades matter as well, though not as much as you may think. While many colleges advertise an average ACT or SAT score, the numbers are usually just a guideline. Other activities and application materials will be weighted, too.

Activities

Most colleges want to bring on students that have school pride, are involved, and have ambitions outside of class. Activities can be a way of showing off your well-roundedness. Now is the time to sign up for Spanish Club or to try out for cheer leading.

If you’re an athlete, getting into college on a sports scholarship is a whole other monster. You’ll want to talk to your coaches as soon as possible about how to attract the right admissions counselors to see you play. If you’re planning on going into the arts, you’ll need to start building your portfolio, brushing up on your auditions pieces, or videotape performances. This will give you something to show when admissions season comes around.

Volunteerism and Work

Volunteering regularly in your community isn’t a requirement to get into college, but it can set you apart from the crowd. And it doesn’t take much at all! You can do little things like participating in a monthly park cleaning day or something much larger like organizing a coat drive at your school. Find a cause or issue that matters to you and get to work. Colleges like to see that you are driven to make the world a better place.

A second option/alternative to volunteering is to actually going out and get a job. Universities love to see future students take on adult-sized responsibilities like building a resume. Plus, as a bonus, you’ll start saving for school even earlier.

The Application

Finally, none of this would be evident to your college admissions advisor without that dreaded application. All colleges have a form of this with their own deadlines and admissions periods. Our advice is to focus in on a few key items: when early admissions applications are due, how many recommendation letters you need and how they must be sent in, and what (if any) essay(s) you need to complete.

Early admissions is a great way to show how serious you are about your school choice, but early admissions applications means getting everything ready way in advance of the normal application process. This means planning your recommendations (contacting, reminding, confirming) and completing your essay (writing, editing, re-reading). By planning out your application, as well as your qualifications, in advance, you can ensure you’re on target to get  accepted to your ideal college.

What NOT to Take with You to College

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What not to bring to college

Moving into your first dorm room is one of the most exciting moments of your life. It may be your first time living on your own or your first time away from your parents for an extended period of time! With all that excitement, however, come a lot of unknowns — especially in what you need to pack. While you can find hundreds of suggested packing lists, it’s harder to find a list of what not to take with you to college. Here’s what we suggest leaving at home.

What Not to Take With You to College

Family Heirlooms

Did you grandma give you her wedding ring? Do you love your picture frame that’s been passed around from generation to generation? That’s awesome — but leave it safe and sound at home. We are all for antiques and vintage, but items that can’t be replaced and hold a special place in your heart aren’t meant for a dorm room where it might get lost, broken, or stolen.

Cash

A couple of dollars here or there isn’t a bad thing. In fact, having cash over credit and debit cards can help you budget. However, carrying a large sum of bills can make you a target for dorm room thieves (and yes, they exist). If you lose the envelope or wallet walking around campus or hanging out with a friend, you also won’t be able to get it back while with a credit and debit card, you have extra protection in case an emergency happens.

Car

If your campus allows underclassmen to have cars on campus, you may want to bring it anyways, but those flexible universities are rare and most have restrictions on who can bring a vehicle. But with ample public transportation from dorm to campus to cafeteria, who really needs to fork over extra money for insurance and gas?

Oversized Anything

You might make more friends if you bring along a 60-inch television and you’ll be able to host more parties with a full-sized couch. But the truth is that your dorm room is going to feel like an overcrowded mess when you try to fit in non-dorm sized items into the tiny space. The golden rule is that smaller and simpler is always better. Instead of a couch, go for bean bag chairs and floor seating. Instead of a huge TV with surround sound speaker set, go with a 20- to 30-inch flatscreen.

An Entire Closet

Don’t overload your already cramped drawers and closets with clothes you won’t need. Instead, downsize by going seasonal. Bring fall and winter clothes with you first. Then, plan on switching out your wardrobe at the winter break or pay to mail back your clothing every four or five months. You’ll appreciate the extra space downsizing provides.

High School Nostalgia

You may have absolutely loved every day of high school, but you’re in college now, so you can officially shed your bulky letterman jacket or your unfashionable class ring. Where you went to high school probably won’t mean as much when you’re on campus anyway. Plus, you can replace some of your high school swag with new t-shirts, hats, and tailgating gear from your university!