Seven Tips to Help You Prepare to Leave for College

Seven Tips to Help You Prepare to Leave for College

Freedom is at hand! You have accepted the place offered by your favourite college, the pandemic seems to be easing so colleges are expecting to welcome students back into university accommodation, exciting times. But, there is also that voice in your head asking how are you going to cope without Mum and Dad to put you straight when things start going wrong?

It’s normal to have concerns and fears about heading off to college, if you are travelling across the world for college, it’s even more daunting. Take a deep breath and follow these tips to make your college journey get off to a great start.

1.     Don’t keep your concerns to yourself

For most of you reading this, it will be the first time you will have said goodbye to parents, siblings, family and friends, so you have been away on school trips but this feels different. The first thing to understand is that you are not alone, if you talked honestly with your peers they will be having very similar concerns as you do. While your parents will be excited about you taking this big step towards adult life, they will also be asking themselves how well you will cope with the change.

To help you, have conversations with family members who know you well, talk about the things that you are concerned about and ask them for any advice. Sometimes just sharing your concerns can be a great help but often people will put forward ideas about practical things you can do to help. Another great thing to do is to reach out to somebody who has already made the move to college, ask them about their experience, what worked well and what would they do differently?

2.     Money

Part of the discussions you have with your family should be about money. OK they have agreed to stump up for the cost of you attending but what about the costs of day to day requirements, toothpaste, washing powder, pens, batteries and the like? If you laptop suddenly dies on you how do you pay to get if fixed, or a new one? What about going for a coffee with your new friends or an evening out to see a movie?

Take some time to work out the practicalities of money. Probably your parents are going to covering these expenses but how are you going to receive the money and how much will you have? Most students are not fortunate to have an unlimited budget, so once you know the amount of money you family will give you, start thinking about how you are going to manage that amount so that your money lasts for the full college year and your last weeks of the college year aren’t spent living the life of a hermit.

3.     Keep up to date with the paperwork

You will already have received lots of paperwork and information from college, everything from choosing your accommodation to meal plans. Take the time to go through it in detail and complete any actions that are needed, there is nothing worse that arriving and finding you have missed the deadline for something important to you!

This year there are added complications caused by COVID, colleges are putting plans in place to welcome students to college, but these may need to change as new variants create additional challenges. Currently most countries have strict border entry requirements so make sure you know just what conditions you will need to comply with to gain entry to the country you are going to be studying in. Your college should help you keep abreast of all the requirements and any changes, but it is worthwhile you also making sure you know and understand what is happening.

4.     What happens if….

An insurance company used to use the line ‘Don’t make a drama out of a crisis’ as its tagline in all of its adverts. Its good advice and the trick to avoiding the drama is to have already thought about what you will do if a crisis envelops you. Nobody knows what types of crisis might come along while you are at college, maybe you lose your phone, you are attacked, you fall and break your arm, but there are some basic things you can do, just in case.

If something goes seriously wrong is there somebody not too far away that you can contact? If you are fortunate there maybe a relative living nearby, or perhaps a family friend. If you have not already done so, reach out and let them know you will be going to college nearby and ask if you can contact them if you need to, most will be happy to help, but don’t abuse that help by asking them to do things you should be able to do yourself.

Hopefully you will never need to call on them because colleges have a wide range of services to support their students in most emergencies. All colleges take personal safety very seriously with security staff patrolling campus, panic buttons and the like. The same goes for medical issues, colleges will have a medical centre or even a hospital where you can get help with any medical problems you may have. Spend some time familiarising yourself with all of the support services your college has, that way, if you need it, you will know how to get help.

5.     Make lists

There is nothing worse that getting somewhere and finding that you have forgotten something critical, whether that be the charger for your laptop, or the stuffed toy you can’t sleep without. Help prevent this happening by starting to think now about what you need, or wont to take with you, but if you will be flying don’t forget about any weight limitations.

Start building lists of things you might want to take, don’t worry if you are not sure, add it to the list, you can always remove it later. I recommend you have separate lists for clothes, stationary and other study items, toiletries, things for your room, linens, electronics, personal items. Over the next few months keep reviewing what is on your list, share them with your family as they may have suggestions that you have missed.

6.     Keep in touch

Heading off to college is a liberation from the confines for living in your parents house and an opportunity to meet new people, but most of you will still want contact with family and friends, even if you are in different parts of the world. Make sure you have the contact details for everybody you want to stay in contact with.

7.     Practical skills

For many of you, going to college will be the first time you have had to properly fend for yourself so now is the time to make sure you have the skills to survive.

Learn to cook at least some basic meals, something that goes beyond instant noodles in a pot. You will probably eat most of your meals in one of the college dining halls, but there will be times when you just fancy something familiar, a taste of home.

Know how to use a washing machine and iron clothes. You will be surprised how often people put too much washing powder in the machine and bubbles start appearing over the floor.

Electrical plug adaptors are all very well, but you might want to learn how to change the plug on your electrical equipment so that you can plug directly into the electrical sockets in your room.

Final word

Going to college is a rite of passage for many young people, it’s been described as becoming an adult, but with a safety net. For most people college is a period a considerable growth, both academic and personally and many will look back fondly on their college and university years as a highlight of their life. There will be things that happen that are unexpected, both good and bad, but these seven tips will help make your move to college as stress free as possible.


Originally published at on May 26th, 2021.

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