By Francheska Pacheco, Press & Written Media Team
It’s done! You’ve selected your school, put down the deposit and have received the official university email declaring that you’re in. So now what?
Usually after you accept an offer, the university of your choice will send you some of the next steps, such as getting a school-issued email, sorting out dorm status and all that jazz. If you’re still feeling a bit clueless about how to prepare, though, and want to make sure you don’t miss any steps, feel free to look back to this college prep checklist to make sure you’re on the right track!
☑️ Join an online community*
A severely underrated step is joining a community of incoming freshmen for your college. I highly recommend it! Whether it be on Discord, WeChat, Facebook or Instagram, find a group chat or student page — and if it’s based in your current region, even better. Anything that can help you find a familiar face in the first few days of university will ease that transition.
A good start would be going on Instagram and checking for any pages showcasing and introducing incoming students (that you can sign up for, if you wish). Not to mention, the more obvious conveniences: finding dorm buddies, local emergency contacts and other freshmen studying your major!
Seeing that you might travel to a new place (state, country or even continent) for university, it’s beneficial to make some connections to help you with the process. You can become more prepared and even grow your excitement for your new college journey. Furthermore, if you want to make sure you’re all caught up with student news, group chats are a great source to hear about any developments firsthand. Even if you’re determined to have a clean slate or want to make friends on the spot, just being present in a group chat can be beneficial for knowing important information.
*For those of you applying to the UK and haven’t heard about this blog site yet, I definitely recommend using The Student Room. You can meet friends, have your questions answered by current students or alumni of British schools (whether about student life or the university itself) and it’s completely free. For example, if you haven’t heard about your professors yet and want to know some tips, you can start a thread and hear back from current course-takers. In summary, it’s a great student resource!
☑️ Research accommodation
This is a no-brainer, but do take note of this step if your university doesn’t guarantee accommodation. Remember to SIGN UP EARLY! In my experience, dorms have limited places and you may need to check for accommodation outside of university, just in case. If you’re not sure what to look out for, try to make sure that your potential accommodation:
- Is close to your university (within walking distance)
- Is close to grocery stores/large supermarkets for weekly trips
- Is shared with X other individuals (check how many)
- Includes utilities like WiFi, general electricity, heating and water in the rent
- Has convenient transport nearby — this means it’s close to bus stops, in case you’ve pulled an all-nighter, are running late and have to get to your classes stat
- Has some essential furniture
Think smart about transportation, location and price. Another good thing to consider is if it’s nearby the city center, if city life is really important to you; however, remember that city centers may have more traffic, so make sure you know you can get to your classes on time. Once all of that is done, research a little more and see whether it’s allowed to keep instruments or have pets, if these factors are important for you.
And for those who do get to choose their university accommodation, think about whether you want private or shared halls — are you a party person, like sharing or like to keep your own space? Will you have your own bathroom? Does your hall of residence or college have a lot of student activities? These are all things to bear in mind when choosing your room, so choose wisely!
☑️ Plan a budget and create a bank account
This is absolutely essential. If you haven’t created a bank account, now’s a good time to start. Your own bank account will be paying for your meals, books, movie tickets and essentials. To sum it up, your bank account is life. So take care of it! Get debit, not credit, and research different banks to compare their benefits. This will save you money in the long run.
As for drawing up a budget, this will take some time to include everything from essential shopping days (getting toilet paper) to basic meal ingredients you’ll keep in your kitchen. For those of you who aren’t really experienced in cooking, my personal tip is to always keep salt, sugar, bread, milk and garlic in the cupboard!
Your budget doesn’t just include your meal prep — it accounts for transportation (such as bus fees) and your nights out. Budgets take a while to plan, so I’d recommend creating a spreadsheet for your future spending and take the time to draft and write up a list of things you know you’ll spend often on. This ties in with meal planning. It’s a must to have a budget and bank account created before you set foot in university. And of course, remember to try and save your money during the summer to bail you out when spending as a university student.
With that said, try not to stress too much about it! Once you have your own bank account and official student card from your university, you’ll be entitled to various student discounts, so think of the upsides.
☑️ Practice making at least 10 meals at home
A good teacher of mine gave my class some advice: ten meals, five times. You want to be able to know by heart 1) five easy-made meals, such as boiling eggs, rice and bacon, microwaveable meals etc. and 2) five big meals, such as casseroles/homey foods. You want to practice making each around five times before you live by yourself. Once you’ve memorized how to make these foods, things will become so much easier (aka you won’t have to starve to death)! Nutrition is incredibly important and you really don’t want to just depend on ramen or fast food take-out forever (trust me on this, as a person who isn’t a natural cook).
☑️ Head to IKEA
Based on what your dorm includes, go crazy on your dorm decorations and furniture while noting essentials, such as pots and pans (yes, dorms unfortunately don’t always have them). Do it wisely, of course, especially for international students who can only bring a certain amount. Narrow it down to what you really need; I suggest using another college packing checklist so you won’t forget anything. Also remember that if your room is nearby a department store, you can always head there after you’ve settled… but do pack the essentials (and personal decorations) first!
☑️ Sort your visa out
This is especially applicable to international students, but you should plan on getting this done at least five months before your university starting date. As visas differ for different nationalities and different countries, speak to your school counselor or student affairs office to guide you on this matter. Your university should send you some important emails (based on your nationality) informing you of the process, too.
☑️ Watch university vlogs to get you in the mood!
Not an essential, exactly, but why not? Watch some student vlogs from your university on Youtube and start thinking about your future as an incoming freshman. It’s your time, so get excited for it; get a feel of the student life! And lastly, congratulations on getting into your university!
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