Congratulations! You’ve made it all the way through high school. You applied to many colleges (or just your favorite), got into at least one, and are headed off to college very soon.
Here’s my best advice for you to get ready for the big move:
1. GET A SHOT! I can’t say it loudly enough. Get a meningitis shot. The old ones lasted 5 years. They now have vaccines that last 10 years. If you’re not sure if you’ve had one, ask your doctor – or just get another one. Hardly anyone gets meningitis, but it’s often fatal if you do. Why take a chance? One girl did — read about it here.
Please, please don’t put it off. Make an appointment now because they sometimes run out of vaccine.
2. Start saving Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons. They come in the mail. Save them. The store doesn’t mind your using expired coupons. Bed, Bath, and Beyond has a good selection of college stuff starting early in August. Marsha, a wise friend of mine, gave me the following advice and she was right: Buy everything you think you might possibly need, but don’t open it until you get to college. If you don’t need it in your particular dorm room, your parents can always take it back to the store and return it if they keep the receipt.
3. Start making a backpack of all the stuff you’ll need the minute you arrive at college:
- duct tape
- masking tape
- extension cords (at least one with surge protector)
- screw driver (flat and phillips)
- flash light
- sharpie marker (there will be something you forgot to label or that your roommate has the exact same one of)
- small notepad and pen
There’s lots more stuff you will need, but these are things you might need right away to put your room in order and will certainly get lost if you pack them with the other junk.
4. Get a new laptop. If yours is more than 4 or 5 years old, you might want a new one. You probably won’t need a printer (they’re handy but take up precious desktop room and every school has convenient places to print out papers), but you will need a laptop to bring to class, to submit assignments, and to drag to the library or to a friend’s dorm room for a group project.
5. Ask what cell phone carrier works best at your school. I know from my son that if you don’t have Verizon at Cornell, you don’t have reception. If you know someone at the school you’ll be going to, ask about who’s got the best reception. If you don’t know anyone there, find a facebook group of last year’s freshmen and ask them. While you’re at it, try to get your parents to pay for unlimited text messages. You’ll need it!
6. Expect to feel out of place for a little while. I have to confess — I cried through most of my freshman year. I didn’t want to live home again, I just wanted my life the way it was back in high school with all my comfortable friends, with clean clothes that appeared regularly in my room, with free food in the fridge. I thought everyone else was having a blast, and I was the only one feeling sad, lonely, uncomfortable, sick of hearing my roommate’s music. I saw everyone’s happy faces going to class and I felt even more alone. Little did I know that many of them were smiling on the outside and feeling exactly the same as I did on the inside. I think if I knew that – and if I knew then how certainly this feeling would pass by springtime – I wouldn’t have felt quite so confused. So I’m telling you now: It’s not only okay to feel disassociated your first few months at college, it’s normal. Really.
I hope I haven’t made you too nervous. I just want you to be as prepared as you can be. Keep in touch with your old friends, your family — and me!