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Five Tasks to Master Before You Leave for College

May 22nd, 2023
Pre-College Tasks

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Five Tasks to Master Before You Leave for College

Congratulations to the 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 in the fall.

Whether you prefer to 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:

1. How to manage money

Some college students may open a bank account on or near campus, while others may continue to use a current 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 The Finance for Everyone Course a self-paced, online course hosted by the University of Michigan that will educate you on how to manage your money most effectively as well as how to analyze the different financial choices available to you. It’s never too early. You also might like Mint, which will help you organize your accounts and track your budget. You can view your account information securely right from your Android or iPhone once you download the app.

2. How to take care of your health

If you take medication and your parent leaves it out for you every morning or evening, now is the time for you to take over the task. That means that you need to find a method for remembering to take your medication and order refills. Apps such as Medisafe 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 preferred method and start using it this summer.

3. How to schedule and plan

In college, there won’t be a parent around in the morning to remind you about your appointments 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 reminders as you need them. For tracking school assignments along with managing and planning study time, you can use an iPhone app that integrates with a calendar such as myHomework or an electronic to-do list tracker like Todoist. 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 a paper calendar. If this sounds like you, purchase and begin using a traditional day planner. You can find suggestions for other helpful apps and websites here.

4. How to manage time

Student bent over laptop with glowing screen propped on desk while she takes notes in a notebook.

Finding apps that work for you is important. There are a myriad of options!

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.

Check out our post on 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 many time management tips as well as this article featuring 32 great comments on time management.

5. How to do your laundry

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 that colors will sometimes bleed in the washing machine! Ask one of your parents for a laundry lesson and practice yourself a few times before you leave for school.

For more help with your transition, check out our From High School to College Skills Program.

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