The summer before college is quite a busy time and there are many items on the list to check off. Here’s a list that applies to most first-year or transfer college students after they enroll in college. Some colleges may have a few additional items.

Getting Started

  • Be really nice to your parents and those with whom you live. This is a change for them too!
  • Create the required college email account and check it every day – follow through on actions you need to take and complete them in a timely fashion
  • Learn the website and management system, e.g., Canvas, Blackboard
  • Submit final high school transcript
  • Attend new student orientation and any other information sessions
  • If requesting academic or housing accommodations, contact the student support office to meet with an advisor


  • If transferring courses, have them evaluated asap – may need course syllabus
  • Complete required academic assessments (e.g., math placement) – academic assessments will determine some course selections
  • Meet with your advisor to pick your first-semester courses – before your meeting, have a plan for courses you are interested in and backup courses
  • Purchase books for first-semester courses – have them delivered or arrange for pickup when you arrive on campus – consider used books as it will save you $
  • Some courses may require pre-work – check the course syllabus and requirements before showing up for the first class
  • Complete required college mini-courses (e.g., alcohol/drug use, honesty/plagiarism)


  • Enroll in housing – usually need to pay a deposit
  • Transfer students may need to find off-campus housing
  • Complete the housing survey to be matched with a roommate or determine if you can select your own roommate
  • After receiving your roommate assignment, have a conversation or two to get to know one another
  • Select a meal plan – usually assigned a default plan, but you may be able to select a different plan (do this! You can always purchase more dining dollars)
  • If you have special dietary needs, meet with the appropriate staff to address questions and concerns
  • Arrange for parking if bringing a vehicle – make sure a vehicle is allowed
  • Buy personal supplies such as bedding, power cords, computers, printer, pictures (check for rules), clothing for the season, etc.
  • Know your move-in date/time and procedures

Become Involved

  • Research clubs and organizations to determine if they are of interest to you
  • Do the things your RA (resident assistant) plans for you; it is a great way to meet people
  • If interested in a club sport, contact the coach – the timing for this is dependent on the sport
  • Plan to attend the college club/organization fair in the Fall – being involved adds to the fun of college
  • II you are considering Greek life, look into all of the pledging details


  • Accept or decline health insurance – if declining, verify the student is covered under the family’s health insurance
  • Complete doctor appointments
  • Ensure required vaccines are completed or obtain a waiver
  • Ensure you have the necessary prescriptions and know how to refill prescriptions


  • Join relevant social media groups (e.g., GroupMe or Facebook group for the class of 20__)
  • Buy a planner/calendar or know how to use one on your computer/phone
  • Clean up your laptop computer files and organize files into folders
  • Have a backup drive for your files
  • Make sure you know how to keep your computer up-to-date and free of viruses
  • Get an Uber or Lyft account so you can get a ride if needed and see if the school has student discounts on the service


  • If receiving aid through FAFSA, accept or decline the aid – it shows up in your college account. If accepting aid, complete the Master Promissory note (a promise to pay back the loan) and Entrance Counseling (lessons on understanding loans)
  • Investigate how scholarships are distributed – college scholarships show up in your financial account and outside scholarships are either sent directly to the student or sent to the college (may take months)
  • Pay tuition, housing, and meal plan – there may be an option for a payment plan throughout the semester (e.g., 3 payments)
  • Consider a smaller meal plan if you are not a big eater or not close to the dining hall. You can always add dining dollars, but you cannot get refunds.
  • Get a debit card or a credit card with a low limit. Often these may be offered on move-in day or accepted student day
  • Determine a banking plan

FERPA Waiver

  • Parents and students should discuss the FERPA waiver, which if signed, allows parents to request academic records and financial information. The Department of Education provides more detailed information about the FERPA.
  • Definitely let your parents have access to your accounts at the university
  • Look into any legal things that take place when you turn 18, like medical power of attorney etc. so your parents can help you

While the list is long, just take one step at a time. You will soon be able to put this To Do list behind you so you can dive into your courses, meet new friends, and experience a new life.