As you think about starting college, remember you will have a lot more on your plate than you did in high school. High school was likely busy for you – between extracurricular activities, classes, homework, and possibly even work! But college can be much more demanding than this. You’ll likely be balancing all the above plus additional responsibilities like laundry, food, making it to your classes on time, and more.
As you manage the transition to college, it’s important to learn the right skills before your college experience even starts! Here are just a few you’ll want to tackle and make a part of your daily routine.
1. Get More Organized
From the first day of college, you will find yourself juggling classes, assignments, homework, studying, extracurriculars, enough sleep, downtime, and more. Only students who have mastered the art of organization can juggle all of these successfully without feeling overwhelmed, so it’s important to learn how to get organized before your first semester.
A daily planner is an amazing way to start keeping better track of your responsibilities. This could be a book or on your smartphone. You can also pin a calendar (whiteboard or paper) to your wall that will help you remember those most important dates. If you choose to use your phone, make sure you’re also setting alerts and notifications so you can get regular reminders of what is due, and when.
If you’re not already comfortable using calendars and planners for your schoolwork, start now, even if you’re accustomed to your high school schedule. It’s essential to get comfortable and familiar with new habits and skills, or they can have a hard time sticking.
2. Practice Good Study Habits
Even if you technically don’t “have to study” to pass your current classes, that won’t necessarily be true in college. In fact, you could find the opposite is true – that you need to study, yet you don’t know how to!
Learning good study habits now can be a lifesaver in college. It’s also important to note that studying isn’t just for exams, either. Getting regular refreshers on class material can help you keep up in class and excel in your homework as well.
Start by scheduling time for studying in your busy day and begin to explore different methods of studying that can help you the most. This can include flashcards, phone apps, rereading material, highlighting passages, and more. A method that works for your friend may not necessarily work for you – and you could very well discover that a mix of different strategies best serves you.
You’ll also want to identify the best settings and times for studying. Do you better retain information in the morning? At night? And do you need to be in complete silence? Does music help? Does your brain prefer a library-like setting? Or maybe the outdoors?
Determining the factors that help you study better while you’re still in high school will pay off big time in college!
3. Improve Your Typing Style & Speed
Did you manage to get through high school with the chicken-peck typing method, or maybe the four-finger fumble? It is time to work on proper typing techniques. Taking notes on your laptop or typing up assignments for class will be much easier if you have the right typing speed and style. There are plenty of typing games online to help you brush up on these skills in your spare time before they become essential to your everyday life.
First, let’s review your typing style. Were you ever taught “home row?” If so, it’s time to call on that forgotten knowledge! This is the idea that your hands rest on the middle row (left hand on A through F, right hand on J through 😉 and, from this position, your fingers can easily reach the rest of the keyboard. I’m actually using it right now while I type this!
The only way you’re going to increase your typing speed, aside from using the home row method, is by practice. There are actually games out there that help you boost your typing speed and allow you to compete against friends. This can be a perfect way to have fun before college and improve your keyboard skills.
4. Learn How to Tackle Chores, Finances, and More
You likely had chores to complete around your house, dictated by your parents, but do you know how to complete all the tasks you’ll now be in charge of living on your own? Before you leave your home for college, you should know how to:
- Do laundry
- Make the bed
- Wash the blankets
- Vacuum, clean out the vacuum, and wash the filter
- Organize your space for maximum efficiency
- Cooking safety if you’re planning on using the dorm’s provided kitchen
- Clean the bathroom after yourself
- Write checks
- Use the mail
And, if you are planning to attend college in a city or area where a car is a must, you should know how to drive, too! It’s also a good idea to be able to identify when your car is in need of maintenance, repairs, washes, and general care.
College is much more than just attending classes and doing homework. Students need to know how to get organized, practice good study habits, and keep on top of their other responsibilities outside of the classroom. The time for change is now, not the week you move into your dorm room! Learn these skills before you go to college, and you’re setting yourself up for success.
Another skill students should be learning before their first year of college? How to apply for scholarships! It’s super easy and straightforward – if you know where to look. That’s why we recommend starting with our Scholarship Search tool right here!