Summer is breezing by, which means there are a couple months left before school is in session. Vacation and free time are great, but you can also make the most of your summer by preparing for the upcoming school year. Here are my top tips for an awesome, stress-free back-to-school experience.

Excel1.) Create a schedule with all your classes, work hours, and extracurricular activities. I use Excel spreadsheets to form my weekly schedule. CollegeRuled, myEdu, and GradeTracker also offer free class scheduling tools. This will give you an at-a-glance view of what a fixed week looks like. You’ll also be able to spot any free periods in your day for socializing or studying.

2.) Make a list of everything you need to buy prior to moving back to college. My biggest piece of advice is this: Don’t wait until the last minute to go shopping for school! Getting as much as you can in advance will save you time and stress. I know it sounds simple in theory, but putting it into practice is harder than it seems. The list piles up quickly when considering school supplies, dorm needs, clothing, etc. Shop early so the chances of you forgetting something down the road are slim.

3.) Figure out the books you’ll need for your courses! Assuming you know what courses you’ll be taking next semester, you should contact your teachers/professors or look up your college’s bookstore website and complete an in-depth search of the textbooks you’ll need. I try at all costs not to buy my textbooks from the bookstore since they tend to be more expensive. Go to Slugbooks.com to compare different carriers that have the textbooks you need. It really helps with finding the best bang for your buck when it comes to books!

4.) Know your dorm and your roommate(s) ahead of time. If you’re in college and living with roommates, brainstorm together ahead of time about your future living quarters. You’re probably not going to need two refrigerators, two TVs, or two vacuum cleaners. Make a plan on who is going to bring what. Decide who is sleeping where. Get to know each other so move-in day isn’t awkward.

5.) Look for scholarships NOW! Free money is truly glorious – especially when it comes to hefty college payments. It’s never too late to start perusing various scholarship search engines. See what scholarships are offered through your school, community, or state. Keep in mind that you have a better shot at winning a scholarship in your local area than a $1,000 no-essay, no-GPA required web-based one that hundreds of applicants enter.

6.) Update your resume! If you’ve had any recent summer jobs, internships, leadership trainings, summer classes, or volunteering opportunities, don’t forget to add these experiences to your resume.

7.) Review over any course material that you might struggle with. For example, if you are scared about taking College Algebra, master the basic concepts now. Look over past notes in high school, watch lessons on YouTube or Khan Academy, or (if you’re lucky enough to get textbooks in advance) skim over books you’ll be using for the upcoming class to familiarize yourself with the content.

Don’t dread school. Learning is a wonderful gift! Hopefully, some of these tips will put your mind at ease for a more prepared educational experience. Take care!

Julia

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