Tips for Starting College

You are a senior in high school and you will be starting college soon. There will be some concerns you and your parents will need to look at before starting your first semester?

For parents, you can begin working on helping your student as early as August through December, before your child even graduates from high school.

The first thing you want to begin focusing on is pulling together as much information for FASFA or the United States Department of Education Free Application for Federal Aid, as possible. You can begin by collecting documentation you will need to complete the FASFA application and you can even attend a financial aid presentation.

Be sure to save your last pay stub for the year in December as well so that completing the FASFA paperwork will be easier. By January you will want to have the application completed and filed, the sooner the better as financial aid can run out.

As parents you also may want to prepare and file your federal income taxes as early as possible so that you can verify income for financial aid.

For seniors in high school, your responsibility starts with signing up for your SAT and ACT tests as early as August. Between August and December you will want to visit with your school counselor to make sure you are on track to graduate and fulfill college admission requirements.

Start collecting personal references from teachers, school counselors or employers early in the year, or at least two weeks before application deadlines. Attend a college fair and begin applying for admission at the colleges you have chosen. Find out if you qualify for scholarships at each college you have applied to and start the financial aid application process.

Between January and May you will want to visit the colleges that have invited you to enroll. Keep track of and observe deadlines for sending in all required fees and paperwork and of course continue looking for scholarship opportunities.

College is an exciting time and as a freshman you may be wondering what it is you will need for your dorm. To start, remember that dorm rooms are very small so take only the essentials. Freshmen typically get the worst rooms in the dorm as the upper classmen get to pick the best rooms before the year is over. Make sure you find out everything there is to know about your dorm and what it has and does not have. For instance, if the dorm does not have carpeting, you may need to take a rug. If the room isn’t air conditioned, taking a fan might be an option.

Find out what is allowed and not allowed in the dorms as well. Some schools do not allow microwaves, hot plates, candles and more. Most schools provide beds, some provide mattresses, and of course most require you to buy your own sheets. Types of items that you might consider taking include: TV, pillows, radio, rug, water filter, hangers, tape, tools and posters.

Freshmen are typically assigned roommates, so try contacting your roommate before the first semester. Moving in can be stressful and annoying so by talking to your roommate ahead of time you can find out what kind of person they are, what you have in common and what you each can bring or leave home.

Last, remember to save your money so that you have some spending cash. You will want to live frugally but there will be an occasion when you need your own money for those extra things.

By addressing all of your concerns before you arrive your first day of college, you won’t find this large life transition so difficult.

About the Author

Kara Lilly, a Librarian for over 15 years in College Park, creates the Eduology for, a leading provider of homework help, college directories with satellite maps and a comprehensive breakdown of student loans. For more information, please visit Kara Lilly may be contacted at or

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