Getting Started at College: Tips for Settling in at the Beginning

Andrew Stawarz/Andrew Stawarz

If you’ve already received an acceptance letter from your early-decision school, congratulations! Your time worrying about getting into school is finally done—but what do you need to know when you actually arrive at college? Here are a few tips that will help make the transition from home to the frosh dorms simple and painless.

Connect with other future students in advance. These days, it’s easy to connect with your future classmates before you even set foot on campus. Just search Facebook for groups, fan pages, and people connected to your future school—more than likely, you’ll find a group dedicated to admitted students in your class. If not, start your own, and others will soon discover you. If anyone in the group lives nearby, see about getting together for lunch. It will be great to have a familiar face on the first day of school.

Buy or rent your textbooks before you arrive. During the first few days of school, you can spend hours in line waiting to purchase your textbooks, which are often sold at heavily inflated prices. Skip the lines and the high prices by getting a list of coursebooks in advance from your school, and purchasing copies online from or renting copies from or

Once you get your course schedule, find all of your classrooms in advance. There’s nothing more embarrassing than walking in during the middle of a lecture on the first day. Make sure it doesn’t happen to you by taking a walk around the campus and locating all of your classrooms, using a campus map to get your bearings.

Take part in Welcome Week activities. Your school will probably offer a few days packed with games and activities designed to help you meet fellow students and get used to the school. Though some of the activities may not exactly fit your interests, it’s important to get involved—this is a great opportunity to find new friends before you even start classes.

Find out about clubs, intramural sports teams, and the Greek scene. During the first few days of school, most colleges’ various activity groups will set up information booths, where representatives can talk to freshmen about what’s involved in joining or participating in a club. Scout out the groups that appeal to you, and come prepared with questions. If you’re thinking about getting involved in the campus Greek scene, this is also a great time to work out which fraternity or sorority seems like the best fit, and find out about their welcome mixers.

Get your student ID card and rent a fridge as early as possible. Your student ID card is your key to all sorts of campus activities, from meals to gym use, so be sure to get your photo taken for your school ID as early as possible, to avoid long lines. Also, unless you’ve purchased your own mini-fridge, you’ll want to rent one from the school—so be sure to register for one before they’re all gone.

Talk to your academic advisor and your R.A. During the first week of school, it can be helpful to schedule one-on-one meetings with both your academic advisor (who helps you with managing your course load and other academic matters) and your resident advisor (an older student who can help you navigate the rest of college life). If you have particular concerns about either academic or social issues at college, these people are trained to provide you with the support you need.

Send your parents home. Though it can be tempting to keep your parents around for moral support as long as possible, once they’ve helped you with anything you need parental assistance for (unpacking your luggage, dealing with the financial aid office, etc.), let them head back home. It may feel a little scary to be on your own, but you’ll get used to it soon—and just remember, all the other freshmen are in the exact same situation. You’re sure to find a friend or two among them.

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6 Responses to “Getting Started at College: Tips for Settling in at the Beginning”

  1. J. S. Allen says:

    I agree with getting you books online, and those are all great places to buy and rent your books, however, they aren’t the only places. To cover all the bases I always use They are a textbook search engine that searches all the online textbook retailers (including amazon, half, ebay etc) and rental sites (including chegg, bookrenter etc) to find you the best prices. You can even use them at the end of the semester to search for resellers to sell your books to.

    Just a wise suggestion for all those incoming freshmen.

  2. admin says:

    Cool tip – we weren’t familiar with that site, but comparison shopping is always a great idea! Thanks for the advice.

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  5. Jesse Walker says:

    Great information. I wanted to recommend Textbook Spy saved me a ton of money on my kid’s textbooks. It definitely helped me find the cheapest prices and best store for renting and buying their textbooks.

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