It’s the longest summer on record.
The summer before college.
You’d like nothing more than to just get there already, but freshman year won’t begin until late August. So, to keep you excited about your upcoming college life—congratulations, by the way!—we’ve put together a list of four things you can do to prepare for college and make the most of your summer.
(Besides shopping for your dorm room, of course.)
How to Prepare for College
1. Get Organized
You need an organization system for college that’s beefier than what you used in high school.
On the first day of class, a professor is going to hand you a syllabus with all the due dates for the entire semester on it. The end.
It’s up to you to know exactly when everything is due in each class, including homework, quizzes, research papers, exams, and group projects.
There are a lot of great calendars and organizers online. You might already use one and feel pretty confident about scheduling deadlines.
But time management is a whole new thing in college because you also have to find time to get involved in organizations, get in some work hours, attend class, study for class, and keep up with family and friends. Prepare for college events and deadlines ahead of time by scheduling deadlines and reminders on your favorite online calendar app.
Start using a calendar right now, this summer, so that you don’t have a huge learning curve when college starts in a couple of months.
We recommend using a paper planner. It’s portable, it never crashes, it can hold all your engagements, notes, and more.
Academic planners come already designed with a college schedule in mind. Before you write off handwriting, take a look at some of the many great options out there.
You might discover you like bullet journaling or the GTD method.
What we’re saying is to prepare your organization system ahead of time, not in early October after you’ve missed some deadlines.
2. Find Student Organizations
Go to the college website and find its list of organizations.
You may decide to join a fraternity or sorority, an academic organization, intramural sports team, or any of the endless possibilities.
The key here is to become involved. You’ll likely attend a different school than many of your high school friends so you’ll have to build a new friend group.
There are a lot of options for getting plugged into student life through organizations, and a wise freshman will seek out one or more clubs that fit with his or her major, common interests, or family traditions.
It’s generally a good idea to join an academic organization that is compatible with your major, but don’t overlook the opportunity to stretch your boundaries and try new things.
If you’re headed from the Great Plains to a coast, for example, join a rowing or a surfing club.
Have you always had an interest in music? Try out for a student choir.
Don’t go too crazy with joining a long list of organizations your first semester, but don’t just hole up in your dorm room, either. Spend the summer learning about and considering your options to be ready when you arrive on campus this fall.
3. Practice Studying Strategies
Over the summer, there’s nothing to study.
College is more rigorous than high school, and it’s a lot more self-directed too. Your professor won’t tell you to create flash cards or a vocabulary log. He’ll just hand you the test.
Don’t allow your study skills to grow dull. Sharpen them by practicing on subjects you know you’ll be taking. An effective studying strategy can boost your academic performance and help you overcome challenges like test anxiety.
Tips for Finding Effective Studying Strategies:
- Listen to some college lectures online and practice taking notes.
- Head to the used bookstore and snag a textbook with “Introduction to” in the title.
- Sharpen your memory by reading or watching television in a foreign language.
- Find out how you learn best. Are you a visual learner, an auditory learner, etc.?
You will feel so much more confident in and out of class if you’ve invested some time in studying this summer.
4. Read Strategically
Some universities assign a book or books to incoming freshmen. If this applies to you, buy the book and read it.
If not, practice reading nonfiction.
You’re assigned a lot of reading in college, whether you’re a business major, a physical education major, a religion major, or a physics major. Reading is unavoidable.
Reading nonfiction over the summer will help you get used to reading regularly. It’ll also increase your reading speed.
We highly suggest picking up one of Time’s Best Nonfiction Books of 2019 or one of the books in the annual Best American Essays series. You can’t go wrong with those.
If you have a planner, you’ve identified some organizations, you have your study strategies ironed out, and you’ve been doing some reading, you’ll be much more prepared for college than if you spent the summer just laying by the pool and scrolling through SnapChat.
With these tips for how to prepare for college, you’ll be ready for the first day of class and all the exciting, challenging days that will follow!