7 Things to Do Before You Go to College

Last Updated on May 26, 2023

Bowie State University freshman students move into campus housing on Freshman Move-In Day.
Photo via Bowie State University.

Setting off for a brand-new life at college is undeniably exciting. However, without a few plans in place, it can quickly turn into a nightmare! Here are our top 7 things to do before you go to college to make your transition as easy as possible.

File Your Papers

There are several important pieces of paperwork which need to be filled out before you begin moving to college. Some of these can be filled out and filed once you've arrived, but why give yourself more things to do? Each college is different, so be sure to ask an advisor precisely what paperwork is needed in order to move in and settle in without issue. Some common ones include signing up for a specific dining plan (especially important if you follow a vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free diet) and finalizing your room assignment.

Pack Smart

Ideally, you should be 99.99999% packed approximately a week before you'll actually be moving to college. That last bit of a percentage point should only include things you need every day, like your computer. By packing ahead of time, you'll save yourself time on moving day, instead of running around searching for something. You'll also be able to relax and think through your packing list, instead of shoving your entire life into boxes! If you're unsure about what to pack, remember that the vast majority of dorm rooms are already furnished (beds, desks) and are very small. You can find many useful checklists online, most of them created by students who really know what you'll need – and what to leave behind.

Connect with Your Roommate(s)

You're going to be living with this person, so it only makes sense to get in touch before moving to college! You'll get a head start on those awkward first-day jitters, and you'll decrease your own anxiety over being stuck with a psycho. In addition, you can save money and time by co-furnishing your dorm room. There's no need for two microwaves, after all, so set up a plan which is fair and lets each of you bring some essentials. If you really click with your new roommate, you can even have fun coordinating a decorating plan!

International Specifics

If you're lucky enough to be attending school in a foreign country, there are some very important details which can't be ignored. Ensure that your student visa is finalized and double-check your accommodations – the last thing you want is to be stuck in a foreign land with nowhere to sleep! Most universities require proof of funds, ensuring that you won't end up begging on the street for food. Each college is different, so be sure to contact an official at your school to ensure you've got everything covered.

Visit the Campus

If you haven't set foot on your future campus, it's a must before moving to college. Living in a brand-new place is intimidating enough without feeling lost. Walk around the campus itself and check out local places like stores and restaurants. If you have a car, drive around to familiarize yourself with an extended area around campus. Once you're familiar with the area, you'll feel much less nervous about making your move.

Pack the Car

If you'll be driving to your new home or being driven by parents or friends, packing ahead is a great idea. It's not always possible, but if you can manage it, try to squeeze in at least a few boxes. When moving to college, keeping things calmed down can be difficult. The last thing you want is a last-minute realization that you've crammed so much stuff in the car that the driver can't see out the back window!


Far too many new students ignore this vital step of moving to college. It's too easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of packing, shopping and going over a million last-minute details. Before you know it, it's time to hop in the car and take off! By getting things done ahead of time, you'll ideally leave yourself with at least a few days of pure, uninterrupted relaxation time. Spend time with your friends, your family, or yourself – just follow your heart and give yourself time to breathe. If you're worried or nervous about this big step, try reminding yourself of all the great things that are about to happen!

Don't focus on the possibility of getting lost or ending up with a nightmare of a roommate – you've already taken care of those!  Focus instead on meeting tons of new and interesting people, getting your academic career off to a great start, and perhaps taking part in fun campus activities.

Whatever relaxes you, do it. With the optimistic perspective that relaxation brings, you'll be looking forward to – not dreading – moving to college!

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