How to Prepare for College

Are you getting ready to go to college? If so, you’re probably wondering where to start. Preparing for college can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to do to get ready for college. We’ll provide a checklist of items you need to complete, and we’ll also offer advice on how to make the most of your time in school. Let’s get started!

Tips to Get Ready For Freshman Year of College

Most students find preparing for college overwhelming, mainly because they do not know where to begin with the preparations, or they are overly excited and can’t seem to settle down and get things done. There are many things you need to do to prepare for your first year of college. Here is a checklist of some items you should take care of:

Researching potential colleges

You have a number of possibilities when it comes to colleges, ranging from two-year community and junior colleges to four-year schools and universities, as well as technical, professional, and trade institutions. Learn about factors to think about while selecting a school and use the free college search engine to locate one that fits your interests, career goals, and finances. Researching colleges allow you to make the best possible choice. Check that the college you are interested in offers the study programs and has the facilities and amenities you would like.

Filling out college applications

Your parents and teachers have probably been telling you for years that it’s essential to fill out college applications. The good news is that most schools now use the Common App, which allows you to apply to multiple schools with one application. Make sure you understand each school’s requirements and deadlines and start filling out your applications early. Do not be shy to ask for help from your teachers if ever you have any difficulties when applying either directly to the university or using the Common App. 

Requesting transcripts and recommendation letters

Most university applications require recommendation letters from your teachers and academic transcripts as part of the documents you submit during application. Your high school guidance counselor will be able to help you with this. You will need to request your transcript, which is a record of your grades, and you’ll also need to ask for recommendation letters from teachers or others who can speak to your character and abilities.

Applying to colleges

After you narrow down your college choices, you will need to complete and submit an application. This process can vary from school to school, but you will generally fill out a form with your personal information and then send in your high school transcripts. Some schools may also require SAT or ACT scores, letters of recommendation, or an essay. Whatever the case, make sure that you understand what a particular college is demanding and then provide just that.

Preparing for standardised tests

Most colleges require students to take one or more standardized tests, such as the SAT or ACT. Ensure you know when these tests are and start preparing well in advance. There are many resources available to help you prepare, including practice exams, online courses, and test prep books. Although standardized tests are not the only thing considered for admissions, they hold some degree of importance to the entire admissions process.

Attending college prep courses

Some high schools offer classes specifically designed to help students prepare for college. These courses can cover various topics, such as time management, study skills, essay writing, and test-taking. If your school doesn’t offer these courses, you may want to consider enrolling in an SAT or ACT prep course. Some companies offer college prep courses online.

Preparing for your financial future

College (especially in the United States) is not cheap. That means you have to buckle down and financially prepare for the ride. One of the most important things to do before you go to college is to start planning for your financial future. Get a job and start saving money, learn about student loans and other types of financial aid, and create or update your budget. This will help ensure that you have enough money to cover your tuition and other expenses while you’re in school.

Making the most of your college experience

Once you’ve taken care of all the practical matters, it’s time to start thinking about how to make the most of your college experience. This includes choosing a major, getting involved in extracurricular activities, and finding ways to relax and have fun. College is a time to explore new things and discover more about who you are and what you want to do with your life. Take this opportunity to learn a new skill, try a sport or go on an adventure.

Filing the FAFSA

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the form that you need to fill out in order to get financial aid from the government. This includes grants, loans, and work-study programs. The FAFSA becomes available on October first of every year, so make sure you file it as soon as possible.

Submitting your FAFSA

After you’ve filled out the FAFSA, you will need to submit it to the schools you are applying to. They will use this information to determine how much financial aid you are eligible for. If it all works out, you could be studying on scholarship or enrolled in a work-study program etc.

Visit your campus

Once you’ve been accepted to a school, make sure to visit the campus before classes start. This will give you a chance to get familiar with your surroundings and meet some of the people who will be your classmates. It’s also an excellent opportunity to talk to professors and get an idea of what their classes are like.

When you’re visiting schools, make sure to bring a list of questions with you. This will help you get the information you need and make the best decision for your future. Some essential questions to ask include:

-What are the graduation rates for this school?

-What is the average class size?

-What are the student-teacher ratios?

-What kinds of financial aid are available?

-What is the job placement rate for graduates?

If you can afford the trip, you may also want to visit the university before you accept their offer to ensure you are making the right choice and the institution is the right fit for you.

Build Relationships with Mentors

One of the best things you can do to prepare for college is built relationships with mentors. These are people who can offer guidance, support, and advice. They can be teachers, coaches, family members, or older friends. Find someone who you can trust and who will be there for you when you need them. You can also reach out to former and current students of the college you are going to. They may share their experiences with you and provide you with some insight into campus life.

Work on College Readiness Life Skills

 In addition to preparing for your coursework, you should also work on developing college readiness life skills. This includes time management, study skills, test-taking strategies, and essay writing. There are many resources available to help you learn these skills, so don’t wait until the last minute. Below are Life Skills to Learn before College.

  • Simple day-to-day activities like doing your laundry, cooking simple meals, cleaning your living space, and prioritizing your time
  • Managing money, such as Creating and following a budget, saving money, and avoiding credit card debt
  • Health and wellness, including Eating healthy, Exercising regularly, and Getting enough sleep
  • Communication skills, such as Writing effectively, listening attentively, and speaking confidently
  • Problem-solving skills, such as Critical thinking, Decision-making, and Creative thinking
  • Time management skills, such as planning ahead, managing distractions, and Establishing rituals
  • Study skills, such as Taking practical notes, organizing information, and preparing for exams.
  • Test-taking strategies, such as Anticipating questions types, Practicing under test conditions, and Eliminating

Learn How to Pay for College

Most families in the United States cannot afford to send their children to college; the majority depends on student loans and grants to get them by. To make the most of your college experience, you need to learn how to pay for it. One of the best ways to prepare for college is understanding the different types of financial aid available. This includes grants, loans, and work-study programs. It would be best to learn how to budget your money and make the most of your resources. Many resources are available to help you with this process, so don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Some important things to keep in mind when you’re paying for college include:

-Make a budget and stick to it.

-Apply for scholarships and grants.

-Get a part-time job or participate in a work-study program.

-Take advantage of student discounts.

-Avoid credit card debt.

Applying for scholarships

Scholarships are a great way to help pay for college. There are many different types of scholarships, so be sure to do your research and apply for as many as possible.

Paying for college

The cost of higher education does not end at tuition cost. On the contrary, tuition is just one of the many costs associated with attending college. Other expenses include books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and miscellaneous personal expenses. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to pay for college, including scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study programs. You can also take advantage of tax credits and deductions.

Prepare for a part-time job

Working while in college can be a great way to earn money to help pay for expenses. It can also help you build valuable work experience and develop new skills. When looking for a part-time job, be sure to consider your schedule, workload, and location. You should also think about the type of job you want and the salary you’re willing to accept. Some important things to keep in mind when you’re looking for a part-time job include:

-Start your search early.

-Consider your schedule and workload.

-Think about the type of job you want.

-Research different employers.

-Apply for jobs online or in person.

-Attend job fairs.

-Negotiate your salary.

Packing for College

Finally, it’s time to start packing for college. This can be a daunting task, but there are a few things you can do to make it easier. First, make a list of everything you need to bring. This can include items for your dorm room, school supplies, and personal items. Next, start packing a few weeks in advance so you don’t have to do it all at once. And finally, be sure to label everything so you can easily find what you need when you get to campus. Another fun idea is to make it a party! Well sort of. Call a few friends over and have them help you get your things together over snacks and hot gossip. 


You see that preparing for college doesn’t always have to be nerve-racking. It can be as easy as a walk in the park. Now that you know how to prepare for college, it’s time to get started. Use this guide as a starting point and you’ll be on your way to a successful college experience. Remember to stay open to new experiences, new cultures, new people, and tons of fun memories and adventures as you embark on this new journey in your life. Have a blast! Good luck! Do you have any other tips for preparing for college? Let us know in the comments below!​

Helen Vlasova
Helen is the co-founder of, a career guidance website for students and young professionals. She has a degree in English from the University of Michigan. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and traveling.

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