This article was originally written for FirstGenerationStudent.com, now a part of ImFirst.org.
Congratulations graduates! Completing high school and getting into college are huge achievements, and the summer is a great time to reflect on how far you’ve come. You’ve worked hard, and you’ve earned the right to enjoy yourself a little, but remember that the summer is a great time to get ready for the next big chapter of your life.
Here are 10 ideas for making the most of your summer so you can hit the ground running in the fall.
1. Put your “paperwork” in order. Make sure you complete and return all the necessary forms your college sent about orientation, financial aid, housing, meal plans, etc.
2. Review your school’s course catalog to select classes. If you know your major, choose some courses that fulfill general requirements in that area. If you’re not sure what you want to study, pick some classes in subjects that spark your interest.
3. Don’t be shy about asking for help. Have questions about your financial aid? Contact the financial aid office and they can answer questions about topics such as receiving additional aid and ways to find scholarships to help pay for college.
4. Plan on life beyond the classroom. Explore what extracurricular activities, teams or groups your college offers. Campus events are a great way to have fun and meet people.
5. Contact your roommate. Most colleges help roommates get in touch with each other so that they can get to know each other and coordinate on what to bring.
6. Hit the shops. Think about what school supplies and personal items you need, want and can afford to buy.
7. Get a physical. Most incoming college students have to submit results from a recent physical exam and vaccination history before registering for classes.
8. See if you have to take any placement exams. Some standardized test scores may help you get out of placement tests, so check the testing requirements on your college’s website.
9. Ease the transition. Some colleges offer “summer bridge” or “college success” classes that provide tutoring, cultural events and academic and financial aid counseling to help you ease into campus life.
10. Say thanks. Your family, teachers, counselors and others probably helped you along your way to college. Let them know how much you appreciate their efforts.
One more for good measure: stay strong! Shifting from high school to college is a big move, but you have been working toward this destination and are academically ready. Being the first to go to college may be hard on your family, but know that they want the best for you. And, know that you are not alone: there are other students on campus who are walking this same path. Take full advantage of all the resources and tools available to help you on your journey to college success.