Congratulations! You did it. You made it through high school.
Whether you already sat through hours of commencement or you're still waiting to get that diploma in your hands, you made it and your next adventure is happily waiting for you.
As I'm making plans for the rest of summer vacation, I'm also thinking back on all the things I wish I did before leaving for college for the first time. After seeing how many exciting plans I have for the next few months and talking to some friends, I have compiled a list of 17things I would highly recommend doing before you leave for college.
1. Spend time with your loved ones.
This is so important. You truly don't realize how much you are going to miss your family and friends until they're gone. Spend so much time with them. Take so many pictures. And when you think you've had enough, spend a little more time with them.
2. Look around. Take in everything around you.
This is one thing I wish I did more of before I left. Explore your hometown, spend time at all the nostalgic places, have a homecooked meal. Spend time doing all the things you won't be able to do once you leave.
3. Connect with your roommate.
Remember, this is the person you will be living with for the next year. Get to know them, become friends with them because you will be spending a lot of time together. This is also a great opportunity to figure out who is going to buy what for the room.
4. Make plans for move-in day in advance.
If you are going to a big school like me, listen up. If you know you will need a hotel for the night before move-in day, book a room ASAP. I can tell you from personal experience that hotels near JMU fill up so quickly, so be sure to book before it's too late.
This may seem obvious, but seriously, pack. And I don't mean wait until the last minute to start packing because trust me, it takes a while.
6. Clean your room.
OK, hear me out. This may not seem very important, but it is. Let me paint a picture for you. Imagine you're coming home for the first time for Thanksgiving break. You can't wait to snuggle up in your childhood bed, but when you get there, it's a mess. Believe me, it is so much nicer to come home to a nice, clean room.
7. Get rid of some stuff.
While you're packing, consider it an opportunity to get rid of some old clothes that you don't wear anymore. You can donate, sell, trash, whatever. Plus, it's a great way to make some extra cash before you go away.
8. Get a job.
This is another one that I wish I did before I left. Yes, I know, having a job isn't the most thrilling, but you will be so thankful for that paycheck once you're away at school.
9. Explore opportunities at school.
Spend some time on your school's website. This can be anything from work opportunities to student organizations to classes. See what sparks your interest.
10. Check your finances.
OK, this is very important. Make sure you understand your financial aid. It is so easy to just let that weight fall on your parents, but whether you're paying for your own tuition or not, it is your responsibility to keep your finances in check.
11. Register for classes.
Again, this might seem obvious, but seriously, do not wait until the last minute to make your schedule. You have requirements to meet and classes tend to fill up quickly. So, before you register for classes, make sure you know when your enrollment appointment is, what classes you need to take, and how to enroll.
12. Make a resume.
If you haven't already, create or update your resume. You can also take this opportunity to set up a LinkedIn profile. Additionally, if you are an artist, create or update your portfolio.
13. Clean up your social media.
You are about to meet a whole group of new people including professors and potential employers. So, be mindful of who is viewing your social media and make sure they are presentable to those people.
14. Keep up-to-date with the news.
For me, personally, it was difficult to stay up-to-date while I was in college. For this reason, I would suggest that you get in the habit of checking the news daily. Remember, you can vote now (or you will be able to soon) so it is super important that you know what's going on in the world.
15. Schedule a doctor’s appointment.
You're an adult, you need to learn how to do this by yourself now. Learn how and when to schedule appointments and be sure to ask about any prescriptions you might have and how to get them at school.
16. Tie up loose ends.
Try to go to college with zero grudges. This is a new start for you, and I promise that you do not need that extra weight on your shoulders. This could mean making amends with your high school frenemy or even ending things with your high school sweetheart. Do whatever you need to do in order to go away to college without that baggage.
17. Spend some time with yourself.
On top of all of this, make sure to spend some time alone. Figure out what is truly important to you, check in with yourself, and try to be in a good mental and emotional place before you leave. This will make the transition into college much easier.
The summer before college is such a precious time. I know how it feels to be so excited for college—picking out dorm decorations and connecting with your new peers, but also wanting to hold on to all the things you have known since you were little.
It's bittersweet. And it's wonderful. Hold on to these moments.