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13 Ways to Prepare for Your Freshman Year of College

A young man sits on the roof of a building overlooking the grounds of a high school.

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

Congratulations! You have chosen and committed to a college. Are you prepared?

Not only is this going to be the place you will spend the next 2-4 years, but it will also be the place that is going to spring you forward into who you are going to become. I hope you are excited, but before you begin this next chapter or stage of your journey, I want to offer a few suggestions on how to be the most prepared.

Since everyone’s journey is different, there may be a couple of things you will want to do that are not mentioned below. Also, you do not have to do these in any particular order.

Through my own experiences, I have learned a few tips and tricks that can help you make the most of your summer before starting college.

Join online communities

Joining online communities before starting college can be a great way to connect with fellow students and faculty. I enjoyed the opportunity to connect with people before we even got to school.

This may be through the school or organized informally by your fellow classmates. For example: 

  • Roommate Finder: to find a compatible roommate. 
  • Class Page: to find other people in your class or specific program of study.
  • Honors Program/College: if you are looking to get a more academically rigorous experience and want to meet other students doing this or have done this at your school. 
  • Parent Pages: for your parents to find other parents whose students are going to college at your school. This can also be a scary and uncertain time for them so having a built in community of people they can become familiar with and ask questions to is important. 
  • Buy/Sell Page: a lot of students will try to sell their textbooks/dorm items that you can get a good deal on! 
  • Any other kind of organization aimed for freshmen that has something to do with orientation and/or move-in. 

Sometimes you will find these groups on your own or people from your school will start reaching out to you through your email, personal and new school email, so start checking both!

Social media is a great tool for this. (Although, if you are rushing a sorority, make sure to check the rules before liking, following, or joining any groups.)

Be sure to join our Discord community to connect with other college-bound students and get more tips on how to prepare for your freshman year. 

Look into your major requirements

Before starting college, it is important to research and understand your major requirements to avoid scheduling issues later on. Most schools will have a class registration day, orientation, or time for you to meet with your advisor to make your schedule.

However, this is not the time to decide on your courses. Your advisor that day probably has a lot of people to go through and may not have the time to individually walk you through your whole schedule options with you. It is important to familiarize yourself with the courses you will take each semester, including your general education electives. 

When it comes to general education electives, they may not all be offered at the same time and every semester. You can research that and if there are certain professors that are harder than others.

I suggest making connections with other people in your program or some upperclassmen to give you some insight. There is also RateMyProfessor.

Some professors may require a textbook, while others do not. This information can normally be found through the campus bookstore textbook finder. (I still recommend waiting until you are absolutely certain you will need the book before renting/purchasing a textbook.) 

Additionally, I recommend using a college schedule maker to visualize your weekly schedule. Planning your schedule in advance can help you avoid last-minute scheduling issues and ensure you graduate on time. Not meeting your major requirements can even prevent you from walking at graduation, so it is crucial to understand what is expected of you.

You also have the option of taking some of your general education courses in the summer to begin getting credit for them. This can be beneficial by saving you a lot of money and allowing you some flexibility when scheduling in future semesters. 

Contact roommates

Summer before move in is a great time to connect and get to know your roommates. If you are going random, this could be the perfect opportunity to expand your worldview and make a new friend! 

One way to contact your roommates is to use the email or phone number provided by the university. You can send a quick message to introduce yourself and start a conversation. Some universities may also have an online platform or app that allows you to connect with your roommates and other students before move-in day. 

Another idea is to plan a virtual meet-up with your roommates over video call. You can use this opportunity to discuss things like sleeping habits, cleanliness, study schedules, and any potential conflicts that may arise during the semester. This can help create a positive living environment for all roommates and prevent misunderstandings. 

It is important to remember that everyone has different backgrounds and lifestyles, so it is important to respect each other’s space and boundaries. Communication is key to a successful roommate relationship, so do not be afraid to speak up if something is bothering you or if you have a question.

Even if you already know your roommates, you can talk about what each of you will bring if there is a shared common space and discuss how the relationship may change. You do not have to be besties with your roommate and if that is your expectation, make sure to communicate that.

You may want to discuss expectations around visitors, noise levels, and sharing items like food and cleaning supplies. It is important to have a mutual understanding of what is expected from each roommate to ensure everyone feels comfortable and safe in the shared living space.

Lastly, it is a good idea to stay in touch with your roommates throughout the semester. You can plan to grab a meal together, attend campus events, or even study together. Building a positive relationship with your roommate can make your college experience more enjoyable and less stressful.

Go to new student orientation

Now that you have been admitted and committed to your college, attending new student orientation is a crucial step in preparing for your first semester. Orientation is typically designed to give you a comprehensive overview of your college experience.

You will have the chance to become familiar with the campus layout and important landmarks, such as the library, student center, and dorms. This can help you feel more comfortable and confident navigating campus when the semester starts. 

In addition, orientation is a great opportunity to learn about the various resources that your college offers. This could include academic support services, counseling and mental health resources, campus safety, and more. Knowing what resources are available to you can help you stay on track academically and personally throughout your college career.

During orientation, you may also receive free college merchandise and a new student ID, as well as have the opportunity to schedule your classes for the upcoming semester. This can be a huge relief, especially if you have been feeling anxious about what classes to take or how to navigate the registration process.

Another important aspect of orientation is the chance to meet other students and faculty members. This is a great time to start building your social network, and you may even meet your future best friend or mentor. Do not be afraid to put yourself out there and strike up a conversation with someone new!

Finally, orientation is a great time to get excited about your college experience. You have made a big decision by choosing this school, and orientation can help solidify that choice in your mind.

Take the opportunity to explore the campus, connect with other students, and learn about all the amazing opportunities that await you. You are embarking on an exciting new journey, and you have got this!

10 Mistakes To Avoid As A College Freshman

Deep clean/declutter your room

Whether your parents are turning your room into their office, moving, or your room is staying as is, this is a great time to go through all of your childhood things and start to throw out mementos, clothes, toys, books, or other things you do not need anymore or haven’t used in a while. Leaving a clean and organized space can help you focus better and feel more relaxed.

This helped me go down memory lane and appreciate everything I had been through. Furthermore, by getting rid of the junk, it symbolized I was closing a chapter of my life. I also made sure to separate things into piles that I could donate, sell, or give to my siblings. 

Why not make it a fun activity with friends or family members, too? Not only can they provide support, but they may also be interested in taking some of your unwanted items off your hands. 

Having a tidy room can reduce stress, improve sleep quality, and help you feel more in control of your surroundings. This can also reduce the feeling of coming back home for break and feeling like your room is filled with the ghost of who you once were.

I will be honest, it took a lot of mental and emotional energy. I watched a lot of Marie Kondo’s show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix to help me get through it. 

Pack if living on campus/moving somewhere off campus

If you are planning to live on campus or moving into an off-campus apartment, it is important to start packing ahead of time. Although it may seem obvious, preparing everything you need is a real stress-reliever.

Consider the specific requirements of your living situation. For instance, if you will be staying in a dorm, you might need XL twin sheets instead of regular twin sheets. Investing in a quality mattress pad is also a wise choice.

Remember that each year can be different, so do your research and make a packing list accordingly. You can check out online resources for more advice on packing and what to bring. By planning ahead, you will be able to move in with ease and start enjoying your new living space.

Relax and spend time with friends and family

Of course this is when time and life start to begin doing what it does. As the end of senior year approaches, take a moment to relax and spend time with the people who matter most to you.

This is a time when life can start to feel overwhelming and hectic, but making an effort to connect with loved ones can bring a sense of comfort and grounding.

Whether it is hanging out with friends, spending time with family, or cuddling up with your pets, prioritize the relationships that bring you joy and support.

It is easy to get caught up in the rush to prepare for the next chapter of your life, but do not forget to savor the present moment. Listen to music that brings back happy memories or watch a favorite movie with your loved ones.

I have been listening to You Were Loved by Gryffin and OneRepublic and it screams summer of senior year to me. You will always have time to grind, but you may never have this time again with your loved ones. Take time to appreciate the simple things in life, like a beautiful sunset or a good cup of coffee.

Remember that rest and stillness are just as important as productivity and hustle. Give yourself permission to take a break and recharge your batteries. This can help you feel rejuvenated and ready to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

As Justin Bieber’s song “Ghost” reminds us, “Youngblood thinks there’s always tomorrow.” Take time for gratitude, love, and joy. Stillness and rest is rejuvenating. Not because you will never have it again, but because you will not have it again as the person you are now. So, take a deep breath, slow down, and savor the sweetness of life.

Visit your doctor 

When heading off to college, it is important to consider your healthcare needs. It is easy to forget about your health when you are caught up in the excitement of a new adventure.

However, college life can be stressful, which can lower your immune system and make you more susceptible to getting sick. Additionally, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has added an extra layer of concern when it comes to staying healthy. That is why it is important to ask yourself a few key questions: 

  • Will your doctor still see you if you are out of state? 
  • Does your insurance cover you if you need to see a doctor while away at college? 
  • What resources are available at your school’s health center? 
  • Does your school have a psychology clinic to offer therapy? If not, how else does your school support students’ mental health? 
  • In the event of a physical injury, what would be your plan, and how accessible and accommodating is your campus? 

It is also a good idea to visit your primary care doctor, dentist, and any other specialists before you start school to ensure that you are in good health. By taking care of these important healthcare matters before you leave for college, you can help prevent problems from arising and ensure that you are prepared for anything that may come your way.

Nurture your hobbies 

Nurturing your hobbies is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety as you prepare for college. It is also an excellent way to discover new interests and skills that you may have never known about before. Taking up a new hobby or pursuing an old one can be a great way to establish a sense of routine and purpose during a time of transition.

To get started, think about what activities you enjoy doing in your free time. Do you like to draw, paint, or write? Maybe you enjoy playing an instrument or singing. Or perhaps you enjoy hiking, running, or playing a sport.

Whatever your hobby or interest may be, now is the time to focus on it and enjoy it before the demands of college life start to take over.

In addition to providing a creative outlet and reducing stress, nurturing your hobbies can also help you build a sense of community and connection with others who share similar interests.

Look for clubs or groups at your school that align with your hobbies or interests, or consider starting your own club if one does not already exist. This can be a great way to meet new people and establish friendships with others who share your passions.

Finally, do not be afraid to try new things and step outside of your comfort zone. College is a time of exploration and growth, and taking risks and trying new things is an important part of that experience. Who knows, you may discover a new passion that becomes a lifelong hobby or career.

Apply for scholarships and the FAFSA 

When it comes to paying for college, scholarships are one of the best ways to reduce the amount of debt you will incur. According to Forbes Magazine, 65% of students use scholarships to support their education. This means that you are not alone in your search for scholarships.

It is important to note that you should not stop searching for scholarships after high school but continue to look for them throughout your college years. Not only can scholarships be used to offset tuition costs, but many can also be applied to any institution, regardless of whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student.

To find scholarships, you can look for ones offered through your university, government organizations, private organizations, community businesses, religious institutions, or use scholarship databases such as Niche, Cappex, Fastweb, RaiseMe,, and more.

Be sure to read the requirements carefully to ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria before applying. It is also important to read the fine print and understand the terms and conditions of each scholarship you apply for. 

Scholarships are not the only way to offset the cost of college. By filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you can also apply for various funds such as grants, work-study, and loan opportunities. The FAFSA can be filled out for free and is available to both in-state and out-of-state students.

However, according to Forbes Magazine, 23% of students do not fill out the FAFSA. This means that free money is being left on the table. Even if you think you do not qualify for any aid, it is important to fill out the FAFSA anyways.

Every little bit counts, and you never know what kind of aid you might be eligible for. The FAFSA opens on October 1st and has a due date of June 30th. If you need more aid to attend school, you can also file a financial aid appeal.

Gather identifying documents

Gathering identifying documents is an essential step in preparing for college and entering the workforce. These documents can be critical in proving your eligibility to work in the United States and ensuring that you have access to all of the benefits and services available to you.

Some of the key documents that you will need to have on hand include your passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, and social security card. These documents will be required by potential employers, as well as by many of the agencies and organizations that you will be dealing with during your time in college.

If you are an international student, you may also need to have other documents on hand, such as your visa or other immigration documents. Make sure that you have all of the necessary paperwork in order well in advance of when you will need it. This can help to avoid any last-minute complications or delays that could prevent you from starting school or beginning your career.

In addition to making sure that you have access to all of the necessary identifying documents, it is also a good idea to keep them organized and in a safe place. You may want to consider making digital copies of these documents and storing them securely online, so that you can access them from anywhere and in case the physical documents are lost or damaged.

With all of the potential complications and delays that can arise from not having the right documents on hand, it is important to take this step seriously and make sure that you have everything you need to move forward with confidence. 

Write a letter to your future self 

Writing a letter to your future self is a fantastic way to reflect on where you are right now, as well as where you hope to be in the future. It is a great opportunity to document your hopes, dreams, and expectations, and to look back on them later to see how far you have come.

When you write a letter to your future self, be honest and vulnerable. You may want to include your current challenges, your successes, your fears, and your hopes for the future.

This letter can serve as a reminder to stay focused on your goals and to keep moving forward, even when things get tough. You can include a timeline of milestones you hope to achieve, or just write about the kind of person you hope to become. You can also mention any current projects, hobbies, or interests you have and how you hope to develop them over time.

It is important to store your letter in a safe place where you can easily find it in the future. You may want to consider setting a reminder in your calendar to read the letter again in a year, or even five or ten years from now.

Reading your letter back to yourself can be a powerful experience, as it allows you to see how much you have grown and how far you have come since you wrote it.

Work on resume/portfolio/LinkedIn account

Working on your resume, portfolio, and LinkedIn account is an essential piece of evidence that you will need to have sooner or later to showcase everything you have accomplished. It is essential to keep in mind that as you progress in your career, your skills and experience will only grow, so having a record of them, starting now, can be beneficial.

One way to ensure that you are prepared for future job interviews is by taking this opportunity to reflect on your achievements, skills, and goals.

The first step is to update your resume. Make sure to include any new experiences you have gained while you were in high school, such as internships, volunteer work, or part-time jobs.

Highlight any skills you have developed and any awards or honors you have received. When crafting your resume, make sure to tailor it to the specific job you are applying for.

Use language that matches the job description and emphasize skills and experiences that align with the position. It could even be helpful to have a separate master list you can copy and paste from at any time.

In addition to your resume, you could also work on creating a portfolio, especially if you are in a creative or performing arts field. A portfolio is an excellent way to showcase your work and skills to potential employers.

It can include examples of projects, reports, or other work you have completed. Make sure that your portfolio is well-organized and easy to navigate. Also, keep in mind that your portfolio should be updated regularly as you gain new skills and experiences.

Lastly, you should consider updating your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a powerful tool that can help you connect with potential employers and build your professional network.

Make sure that your profile includes a good, clear headshot, your experience and skills, and a well-written biography. Use keywords that are relevant to your field and highlight your skills and accomplishments.

You can also connect with alumni from your school, attend virtual networking events, and follow companies in your industry to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and opportunities.


Preparing for your freshman year of college can be a daunting and overwhelming experience, but taking the time to plan and organize can greatly alleviate stress and ensure a smooth transition into college life.

These are some things I would recommend before starting your freshman year of college. Of course, you do not need to complete all of these to be prepared, but I hope you recognize that by doing a few of these things, you can better set yourself up for success. 

Joining online communities and contacting roommates are important steps to building a support network before arriving on campus. Attending new student orientation can also help you acclimate to the college environment and connect with other students.

Deep cleaning and decluttering your room can make your living space feel more comfortable and organized, while packing efficiently can save you time and stress. Taking time to relax and spend time with loved ones can also help alleviate pre-college jitters and anxiety.

It is also important to take care of your physical and mental health before starting college. Visiting your doctor, nurturing your hobbies, and applying for scholarships and financial aid can ensure that you are physically, mentally, and financially prepared for college. Gathering identifying documents and working on your resume and portfolio can also set you up for success in your future career.

Overall, the most important thing is to approach your freshman year with an open mind, a positive attitude, and a willingness to learn and grow. College is a time of exploration, self-discovery, and growth, and with the right preparation and mindset, you can make the most of this transformative experience.

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Author: Rosalie Anthony

Rosalie is currently attending Point Park University earning her Dance- B.F.A degree with a minor in French. Previously, she attended and graduated from the Alabama School of Fine Arts in dance. She is passionate about learning, teaching and mentoring. In her spare time, she enjoys working out, chatting with friends, and discovering new places to go in Pittsburgh.