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Francesca's Focus: College Prep

Whether you're living on campus or commuting to school, there's still a lot of preparation that goes into getting ready for your fall semester. There is shopping to be done, books to be rented or purchased, schedules to read over, and a mind to shape back into school mode. It seems like a lofty process, but if it's spread over a few weeks it makes that last bit a tiny less stressful (but let's be real, the couple of days before a semester starts are some of the worst days other than finals week).

For my commuting students, other than gathering your school supplies (backpack, notebooks, writing utensils, agenda, textbooks, etc…) you're definitely going to want to make sure that you get some sort of parking pass if you need it. I know my school's parking passes went on sale today so be sure to check your university's website to check dates for your own parking passes. If you have a city campus and are a master at finding street parking, that's your prerogative. If you live on a more traditional campus, check the different rates of the lots on campus. You might not even need a parking pass, or you may need a special one for premier parking! Don't wait until the last minute when all of the good lots are taken or, even worse, there are no spots left.

Another thing for commuting students to look out for it the campus maps, equipped with the different shops and places to eat on campus. If you're going to be hanging out around the campus for a better half of the day, unless you've expertly planned your schedule, you should at least know where you can get the best cup of coffee or find the quietest place to study or do work. Scope out the library or spots outside on campus (weather permitting) to relax between classes.

For my dormers out there….UNITE! I'm only joking. I will admit, there are a lot more things that you have to prepare for than commuters, but remember that you don't have to drive to campus every day. That in itself can be a total pain the butt and I'm grateful that I didn't have to do it for my first year and won't again for my second year. Along the same lines at commuting though, you need to have your school supplies in line. I don't recommend hoarding or stocking up on a ton of supplies as that will take up a lot of space, but to at least have the bare minimum and if you need more, you can run out to a store nearby (avoid bookstore at all cost---I paid $5+ for a 1" flimsy plastic binder).

If you choose to have a car on campus, there are a few things that you need to check on. Some schools don't allow freshmen to have cars on campus, so be sure to check on that before you make the executive decision that you want to keep a car on campus. The same thing goes for commuters as dormers: check the dates for parking passes. My school has a special lot for people who strictly dorm, but those who live on campus can also choose from "white" and "green" passes, which just tells you which of the lots you can park it. On campus we have white and green lots, each located in and around campus, but you have to share them with commuters as well. Though they're cheaper, the thought of competing with people who drive to campus every day sounds tricky.

Now the fun part: dorm shopping. You NEED twin XL bedding. Emphasis on the XL. You might be able to get away with a twin comforter if it's your prized possession, but you absolutely need twin XL sheets or else they will not fit your mattresses at school. Pretty much every department store and Target sells twin XL sheets and they're in mass amounts this time of year. You've got to get your pillows, blankets, shower stuff (caddy, flip flops, towels, etc… all depending on what style dorm you have). It's good to have some sort of granola bars and snack food (i.e. popcorn if you have a microwave, pretzels, crackers) if you didn't get a good amount of food at the dining halls or if you just get the urge to snack. You're human, it's okay for that to happen.

By means of furniture, this also depends on what style dorm you have. My room came with a bed, a dresser, and a desk/desk chair.  BUT, we also had a living room that came with a couch, a chair, a table, an entertainment center and a kitchen that came with two burners, a microwave, sink, and a full-sized refrigerator. If you have a suite like this, you won't need to bring a microwave or a mini-fridge. However, if you have a traditional dorm, those are two things that are good to have. Another thing that I've heard are popular with other college students are single-cup Keurig machines. That might be something to think about if you need your coffee/tea fix but don't have a teapot or full-sized coffee machine at your disposal.

The last step is to prep your mind for school again. Results may vary, but I find that going over the class descriptions makes me excited to go back to school. I also think that it's natural to not want to go back to. You just had 2-4 months school free, why would you ever want go back? I'm the kind of person who loves to learn and just thinking about all of the classes I get to take this year is so exciting to me. I've also been reading and writing a lot (which I never stop doing, to be honest) to get myself into the school mode.

Everyone has their own means of preparing themselves to go back to school. My favorite method is to wait until the last minute, cry a lot, then wing it. Well, it's not my preferred method, but it happens quite often anyways.

How do you prepare to go back to school? 


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