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NEWS | Aug. 1, 2011

10 tips for college freshmen

By Cicely McCray Joint Base Charleston School Liaison officer

It's almost here. You have graduated high school and are ready for college. But before you head off to enjoy the rest of the summer, you might want to use the coming weeks to prepare yourself for the college experience, especially if you are making plans to attend college far from home. Here are just a few tips which might help you and your family:

1. Set up a filing system - It may not seem important now, but a good filing system will help keep you on track. Before you leave home, sit down with your parents and decide what records need to be kept and where. It will be important to decide which documents should be stored as hard copies and which can be stored electronically.

2. Take care of business - For years your parents have managed some of these important affairs. Now, it's time for you to learn about things like health, car and renter's insurance (if you will be living in an apartment). If you do not have a bank account, be sure to open one which serves the campus and surrounding areas. Military dependents may consider taking budgeting courses available through the local Fleet and Family Service Center or Airman and Family Readiness Center.

3. Work hard for the money - As tempting as it may be to wile the summer away saying farewells and hanging out at the beach, now is the right time to take on a full or part-time job to help cover some of those little expenses - the mini refrigerator, bed linens, microwave, etc. By saving over the summer you could avoid some heartache those first few months of school.

4. Shop the sales - Take your time and shop around. Make your hard-earned dollars work for you. Retailers are looking to get into your school budget, so make them earn your attention. Comparison shopping is a great way to stretch funds. Besides getting all the necessities, you might even be able to afford a few niceties.

5. Find your way home - Whether you are attending school nearby or far away, it is a good idea to make a practice drive to and from the campus at least once. Not only will you become familiar with the route, you can identify important features along the way such as rest areas, well-lighted gas stations, police call boxes, etc. This may also give you an opportunity to experience highway or interstate driving if you're driving experience has been limited to local streets and roads.

6. Check-out the campus - You may have taken a campus tour before finalizing your college choice but that does not mean you know where to find important offices on campus. Get out there and explore. Go out and find the infirmary, the police station, your dormitory and cafeteria before you need them.

7. Vehicle maintenance - Get your car into the shop for a full diagnostic and tune-up. Take care of even the most minor repairs now. Maintaining your vehicle on a regular basis could save costly repairs later.

8. Health maintenance - You're young, you're strong and you feel great. Still, you need to make arrangements to get a general check-up with your primary physician, an updated eye exam, a dental cleaning and visit with any specialists your health requires. Get a full understanding of any medications you require. While you're at it, you might want to talk to a nutritionist about how to avoid the infamous Freshmen 15.

9. Keep in touch - Be sure to trade contact information like email, phone and mailing addresses with friends and family before you leave town. Remember to think of mom and dad back home before you post anything to Facebook. Don't embarrass them!

10. Make time for family - It may be old-fashioned, but staying in touch with family can make the difference between a successful transition to college and a disastrous one.
Make the time to visit extended family, watch movies with younger siblings and go to the family reunion before school starts. For many, this is the last time you'll ever live at home and it's time you can't get back once you've left.