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Preparing for the College Lifestyle

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Preparing for the College Lifestyle

(Photo : Unsplash)

Leaving the sanctuary of your parent's home is a pivotal point in a high school senior's life. For your entire life, your focus was on going to school, competing hard in sports and keeping up your grades. Now for the first time, you will be responsible for everything else. The good news is that with a plan in place months prior to leaving for college, you'll set yourself up for success. 

The School 

You've spent months gathering information with regard to colleges that are located in a place you'd like to live for the next four years, provide solid education programs in your area of study, and have clubs and organizations that cater to your interests. After tests, essays, and applications, you've earned a spot at a prestigious university. Read on to learn how to make the most of your college years.

Living Off/On Campus 

The first choice you need to make is whether to live on campus or in a rental property off the grounds. While the latter may be a more cost-effective choice taking into consideration the markup on the tuition for food and housing, this is a big decision and you should weigh the pros and cons carefully. On-campus, you'll have easier access to laundry, vending machines, the library and after class activities. On the other hand, staying off-campus provides privacy, a quieter environment and sheer independence. 

Student Loans 

Higher education does not come at a low cost. While you may be qualified for tuition assistance, it's always a good idea to have also applied for any scholarships you may be qualified for. Unfortunately, very few students receive a full scholarship, so there's most likely a balance to cover at the end of each semester. You should apply for your student loans as soon as you are accepted to a college so that the funds can go directly to the administration office by the due date. 

Additional Costs 

Whether you decide to live on campus or off-site, there are always things needed that require money. While your parents may help out initially, it's up to you now that you live on your own to find ways to pay for your expenses. 

Some parents provide an extra credit card for their child to use in case of emergencies. However, many parents are not in a position where they can send money each month. In these cases, students are left with limited options. You can, however, start a part-time job and use the money to buy your basic needs, and do your best not to overextend your resources.

Budgeting 

The first few months living on your own really provides a quick wake-up call as to how expensive living is. You go out for an evening and treat your friends to burgers and the bill consumes just about all of your disposal cash. This is a lesson all new college students learn fast. Luckily, it takes just one outing to bring an awareness of just how far your money goes. From here on, you'll definitely pay attention to costs and find ways to continue to save money

Learning to Manage Time 

You had your parents to remind you at home as to when your school midterm was due. However, now that you're on your own, these things are on you. Mounting a calendar whiteboard on the wall will allow you to track your assignments and their due dates. Athlete scholars who have been recruited into college sports teams will have to be especially good with this, as they'll also have to manage their time between practices and games. If you are working while in school, keep track of your shifts as well. 

Mental Challenge 

Many college freshmen have a difficult time in their first year adapting to a life outside their comfort zone. They may experience separation anxiety and have bouts of depression, and it's important to learn how to overcome these feelings. Out of these years, you are very likely to develop relationships to support you through graduation day and last a lifetime.

The first year living away from home is always the most challenging. Thankfully, it starts to become routine going forward so enjoy this phase of your life. 

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