College move-in dates are right around the corner for a lot of people which is an anxious but exciting time. COVID-19 has undoubtedly made things more uncertain and scary, but there's still a ton of helpful information you should know to make transitioning to school much smoother. Between items to bring and tips to keep in mind, here's a semi-comprehensive list of things that will improve your college experience (in no particular order of importance).
1. Never buy textbooks fully priced if you can avoid it.
Books are exorbitantly expensive but there are a ton of options beyond your campus book store. Unless you're buying for a book made by your professor, you can find it at a discounted price on Amazon, Chegg, etc. Also, make sure to check for a rentable, online, or PDF options and make sure your professor absolutely REQUIRES it before you try and buy it. Don't waste money!!
2. Use rate my professor.
This website is a great resource for determining a general idea of your professor. People rate them and give explanations of their ratings in the comments. Some students use this as the holy Bible for choosing a teacher, and it can be accurate, but I would use it as more of a blueprint. Definitely find some former students and ask around before making an absolute decision about whose course you will take.
3. Look for dual credit classes.
I can't speak for every university, but I know that Mississippi State has a couple courses that offer credit for two. For example, there's a section of Statistics and Trigonometry that offers credit for College Algebra with it, meaning you get six credit hours for one course. It may not seem huge, but for someone like me who doesn't like math, this would have been amazing to know before I took them separately.
4. Check your email daily.
I used my email a decent amount in high school, but in college, emails are your holy grail. Between messages from your professors, reminders for deadlines, applications for student organizations, or last minute class cancellations, I strongly suggest you check your email 2-3 times a day. Also, this is a major form of communication between you and the faculty, so be professional when using it.
5. Don't keep the ultimate meal plan.
Freshman usually automatically get the biggest, most expensive meal plan at big universities, but it's way more food than you'll ever need. Picking a lower grade plan will save you some money and prevent you from wasting your rollover money at the end of the semester when you don't need it.
6. Get a Venmo.
I got Venmo right before I got to school, and I'm so glad that I did. Not only is it one of the best apps ever made, it's pretty needed for college. Whether you're short on cash for a bar cover or need to pay back some grocery money, having this app makes life so much easier.
7. Buy notebooks and folders instead of binders.
This might be more of a personal thing, but I find that worksheets are pretty rare at the college level, so a notebook will benefit you much more than a binder. I had one class that actually warranted a binder, but most of my notes were either online or in a notebook that I used for several subjects.
8. Have some business clothes.
This is important. A lot of clubs I've joined required business formal or casual clothing for interviews as well as jobs on and off campus. It's really nice to have a couple outfits that you can wear for instances like this rather than stressing and trying to borrow like I did.
9. Bring party outfits.
Let's talk about party attire. Likely, your school has some kind of Greek life scene and even if it doesn't, there will be theme nights at bars or house parties. Find a couple of cute outfits that go with popular party themes: neon, safari, winter/ski, country, country club, toga/Greek, etc. and thank me later.
10. Find a pair of cheap sneakers.
I would highly recommend buying what I call "frat shoes," also known as cheap sneakers that you can wear to a bar, frat party, tailgate, or anything in between. These shoes are cute but also can survive dirt and stains. Adidas superstars are a prime example as a quick scrub with a wipe can make them look brand new.
11. Get a desk organizer.
If you're someone who likes organization, a desk organizer is a worthy purchase. I bought one a week into school because I loved my roommates', and it was a great choice (Amazon for like $15). This can separate your makeup, school supplies, hair accessories, jewelry etc. It also can add aesthetic value if you find a cute one.
12. Invest in a mattress topper.
This is the best thing you will ever purchase. The mattresses provided by your dorm are not comfy, and sleep is crucial to succeeding in school, making a Tempur-Pedic mattress top a worthy purchase. It's not the cheapest thing you're going to buy, but I promise you won't regret it.
13. Keep a Brita filter in your room.
This is a lifesaver and will save you from drinking questionable hallway water in your dorm. Make sure to keep it filled, though, so your roommate doesn't get mad at you.
14. Purchase some kitchen supplies.
Bring a couple of these for the dining halls. You can overpack your plate and put the rest in your refrigerator or maybe keep some freshly made cookies. Along that track, a couple of plastic bowls and pieces of silverware are essentials. Sometimes, a trip to the union doesn't seem worth it and all you want is some cup noodles. I got a set of plastic cups and bowls from Target for like $20. Great purchase
15. Use an Ottoman.
When my roommate said she was getting one of these, I kind of thought we didn't need something like that. However, it is a great choice for a number of reasons. If you raise your bed, you can use it as a stepping stool, but it can also be used to storage of miscellaneous items, or maybe things you don't want your RA to see ;)