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Preparing Yourself for College

Here comes the big milestone. Your first time away from your parents. Your first time making your own schedules. Perhaps your first time starting over in a completely new place. What do you need to live a successful, basic existence? Right this way …

Big duh, right? But how much? According to the National College Board, the median cost for textbooks alone will be around $300 a semester. General expenses will be anywhere from $500 to $800. If you absolutely have to have name-brand attire and comforts, tack on another $300 to $500. Money isn’t just for tuition, room and board these days.

All college paperwork
Bring anything you received from your school through the mail with you. It’s not always obvious which forms will be important until you’re actually there. Keep it all together in a large, closeable folder.

An organizer
Paper or electronic? Choose which would serve you better and go with it. If you have a computer in your room, that will be a good start since most mail programs have calendar and appointment keepers coded in. But both can be utilized to keep track of your new schedule, appointments and assignments.

A sturdy book bag
As they always say, “You get what you pay for.” If the bag is priced cheap, it will most likely perform that way. This goes double for anyone who also carries a laptop with them to and from class. Spend a little to save a lot. Waterproof material is also a bonus.

Study supplies
In addition to the obvious notebooks, pens and pencils, other handy supplies for college include:

• Highlighter pens
• Paper clips
• Computer disks or blank CDs
• Three-hole punch
• Clear tape

Appliances and electronics
First rule: don't forget extension cords, power strips and adapters. Even though you may have a cell phone, a cheap $10 landline phone will be handy sometimes to cut down on your minutes for quick local calls. Many times the school will assign you a phone number and provide free local service. Use it.

A small refrigerator and a microwave make dorm life more pleasant, especially on late study nights. A TV and DVD player might be nice, but keep them small.

Don’t forget towels, bedding and pillows! Also realize many universities do not have standard-size beds. They’re usually twin size beds that are longer. Think cheap storage and shelving. Need a little more mojo or moxie? An inexpensive rug often goes a long way.

The majority of college dorms feature shared bathrooms and showers. This means you will need a portable toiletry bag or basket. You should also remember to bring a first aid kit.

Clothing and laundry items
Mom may have spoiled you with laundry service at home, but now you’re lugging your own. Invest in a big laundry basket and a holder for big detergent bottles and fabric softeners. Don’t be surprised if you have to wait in line to use the facilities too. What would help with that? A few magazine subscriptions and a shelf full of paperbacks would cure that down time.

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