Heading off to college can be an thrilling time in life, sudden freedom from parents and the ability to forge your own road ahead is often exciting and daunting at the same time. Proper preparation for college can save significant headaches down the road and make the transition as painless as possible. Ideally, you should begin planning your college life several years ahead, however if you have waited until your last year of high-school or are a returning student, you can complete tasks now that will simplify the entire process and allow you to be prepared when the time comes.
Your first step in college preparation should always be the office of your school’s guidance counselor. Although there is a plethora of information available online these days, nothing will take the place of the knowledge and experience of someone who can direct you to local options available to you or even help you navigate far-flung study abroad programs. The experience of an individual you can meet with in person is priceless.
Begin compiling college information, those that interest you and even a few back-up choices. Keep a system of files that includes important information such as application deadlines, admissions requirements and program options. A student should apply to several universities that interest them, but prior to completing the application, use your investigative skills to educate yourself on the university. If possible, speak with a current student to gain an understanding of the culture and attitude of the students and instructors to ensure you are a good fit.
Finally, consider completing a tour of campuses that meet your requirements. Brochures and web-pages tend to gloss over the details of student life. Take the time to see students in class, spend time in the cafeteria or at a sporting event. If you don’t enjoy the experience prior to being a student, you likely won’t enjoy your education a year down the road. Any investment that costs more than many individuals yearly salary should provide an environment you are happy and comfortable with, do not underestimate the importance of a friendly and interesting educational environment.