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Five Tasks to Master Before You Leave for College

Congratulations to soon-to-be or recent graduates!  Now is a good time to take stock of how prepared you are for the independence of college living—and what you might need to shore up before you pack up at the end of August.

A paper planner

Whether you use a paper planner or an app to keep you on track, know what is the best option for you.

Here are five things you need to know before you go to college:

Manage Money

1. Some college students may open a bank account on or near campus, and others continue to use their account electronically. If you don’t know how to create a budget, monitor spending or plan for the future, now is the time to learn. Visit Love Your Money, a website that offers a self-paced, online course that will not only help you manage your money more effectively, but also will educate you about financial markets and how to save and invest wisely. It’s never too early. You also might like Mint, which will help you organize your accounts and track your budget. You can retrieve all your account information securely right from your Android or iPhone once you download the app.

Take Care of Your Health

2. If you take medication and your parent leaves it by your glass of orange juice every morning, it is time for you to take over the task. That means you need to find a method for remembering to take it and order refills. Apps such as Medisafe and Pillboxie send you reminders and help to take the stress and confusion out of managing complex prescriptions. An old-fashioned pillbox with days of the week or times of day can also be useful and is available at any drug store. Find your method and start using it this summer.

Schedule and Plan

3. In college there won’t be a parent around in the morning to remind you about the appointments you have later that day. It is time to start scheduling your own appointments. Google calendar or iCal are great ways to track your appointments and you can set them to pop up a reminder. For tracking school assignments, and managing and planning study time you can use an iPhone app that integrates with a calendar such as istudiez Pro or ihomework 2. Electronic applications are not for everyone. Some people really need to see their entire week at a glance or are more organized if they can write on their paper calendar. If this sounds like you, purchase and begin using a traditional day planner. Read here for other helpful apps.

Manage Time

A cell phone with a person using an app

Apps can help you stay organized and improve study habits.

4. If you tend to procrastinate or are often late for appointments, it may be that you don’t have a strong sense of time. This summer, try improving your timekeeping ability by tracking each task you do. First, estimate how long you anticipate each activity will take, and then time and record how long it actually does take.  You can use this to estimate your morning routine from when the alarm goes off to when you get out the door, or the time required to clean your room. Eventually, you may learn enough about yourself that you will feel like you have more hours in the day.

Visit our blog for more time management tips from speech and language pathologist Kim Stewart, especially for how to use wall, week and month-at-a-glance calendars. Check out this Dartmouth College site that offers a myriad of time management tips as well as this article featuring 32 great comments on time management. 

Do Your Laundry 

5. If your parent has been doing your laundry for you throughout high school, this summer is the time to take over the task. You don’t want to be walking around campus with a pink shirt because you didn’t realize you couldn’t mix “reds” with “whites.” Ask one of your parents for a laundry lesson.


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