Students from across the state are getting ready to move to college within the month. Students accepted to Grand Valley State University, Ferris State University, or any of several colleges are finding themselves moving to the Grand Rapids area this August. Before making the move to Grand Rapids, there are some hints, tips, and reminders that should not be overlooked.
1. August is a warm month and packing for college is a huge task. Don’t forget to pack enough socks. Grand Rapids winters can get very cold. Pack ankle socks, but also don’t forget warm socks. Trips to Grand Haven in the off season will catch the inexperienced off guard with the surprisingly cold winds. Don’t forget professional socks either! There is nothing worse than going to a job interview or meeting wearing mismatched white socks or, even worse, the only pair that’s still clean because they are Christmas-themed.
2. Tell your friends and family how much you appreciate them. Find a way to reach everyone personally. Write a note, spend a day together, have a heart-to-heart, or grab lunch together. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you express appreciation. In the short days before moving, emotions and stress levels are high. Chances are, there will be disputes or forgotten friends will feel slighted. As short as the commute sounds now, visiting home will be hard to fit into schedules once the semester intensifies around late September.
3. Make sure your laptop battery is strong. Although some professors still expect everyone to take notes with paper and pencil, there is a growing number of classes that will be enhanced by laptops and tablets. Websites, programs, and apps become invaluable during class, sometimes when least expected. First, there is the spark of achievement when the realization hits that you are going to be the helpful group member that everyone gains respect for. Then, the embarrassment hits when your battery life starts flashing red and it is all over from there. Finding available outlets in the room is always a challenge, so don’t count on your wireless technology being saved by a plug. Buy a new battery!
4. One of the most important things to check off your to-do list before leaving for college is to update your wardrobe. College wardrobes are different than high school wardrobes, and you should be sure to pack respectable professional clothing for the internship interviews and presentation days. Hold a garage sale to find new homes for your old clothing and to raise some spending money for the first days of school.
5. Visit all your favorite local restaurants. While there are dozens of unique and tasty restaurants in the Grand Rapids area, there is nothing like your local pub’s special entree. Kill two birds with one stone, and go with high school friends or family members (see #2).
6. Get in the habit of following the news. Download an app on your phone or make news sites your internet homepage. When meeting new people, there are common topics people tend to gravitate to in conversation. The weather and news stories are at the top of the list because they are comfortable and general knowledge. Professors will reference stories during class, and without prior knowledge, the lecture will not be as meaningful. Peers will respect your references to the New York Times or how the swing dancing in Rosa Park Circle really hit the news last Wednesday morning.
7. Practice cooking for your family before moving to college. Buying food out gets expensive, not to mention unhealthy. Microwaving a hot dog for dinner may work for a night or two, but that will not last until midterms, let alone the rest of the semester. Learn how to cook quick and cheap meals while you are at home. Learning the tricks of the trade before leaving home will give you a head start for the semester. Print off some crock pot recipes, favorite blogs that advertise minimal ingredient, easy meals.
8. Get caught up on all your health needs before moving away from your doctor’s office. Update your prescriptions, get new contacts, and go to the dentist. College semesters get intense quickly, and you don’t want to find yourself squeezing in a trip home for a tooth cleaning in the middle of midterms.
9. One of the worst mistakes a young person can make is to miscalculate budget. Use your already-established adult friends and family to discuss realistic budgeting tips. Be sure to plan for nights out with new friends. It would be unfortunate to be invited out, but have to decline because you cannot afford to buy anything other than Ramen for dinner. If you choose to get a credit card, be sure you don’t spend more than you have in the bank. Introductory credit cards are not known for having low interest rates or kind policies for late fees.
10. Last, but not least, learn how to do your own laundry. It isn’t hard, and should only take a load or two before you are a pro. Just make sure you know the basics before you get judging looks in the laundry room when you ask where you put the detergent. It is okay and even expected to ask questions about specific clothes or practices, but be sure you know how to wash your hoodies and jeans without problem.