Not Your Average College-Preparedness Checklist

It’s 10:00 PM the night before you drive 250 miles to get dropped off for move-in day at college. You run through your packing list one more time: two weeks of clothes? check. Shower towel? check.

Everything seems fine when you arrive, so you head to your dorm with your parents, unpack everything, give them a hug and start your journey as an adult. Two weeks later, you’re out of clean clothes to wear, so you grab your laundry basket and walk downstairs to the laundry room. Finally, as you finish loading the machine, you pause… you don’t have laundry detergent. Actually, come to think of it, you never did your own laundry at home, and you’re not really sure what to do anyway. You sit there wishing you had helped your mom out at least one time instead of having her take care of everything for you. 

Don’t let this story become a reality! Below are some things to consider before you head off to college. If you can answer “yes” to most of these questions, you may have a few awkward situations, but you should be fine. Nobody knows everything, and you’ll figure out the odds and ends along the way. If you’re saying “no” to most of these questions… it’s something to think about over the summer. Consider this your unofficial college-preparedness checklist:

  1. Have I done my own laundry?
  2. Have I washed my own dishes?
  3. Can I cook myself a meal?
  4. Have I purchased my own groceries or toiletries before?
  5. Have I fixed an electrical problem/piece of machinery before (i.e. a broken fan)?
  6. Along those lines... Do I know how to use tools?
  7. Have I ever gone to a pharmacy to get the appropriate medicine for an illness?
  8. Have I ever changed my own sheets?
  9. Have I ever taken out the trash?
  10. Have I ever vacuumed my room?
  11. Have I ever changed a light bulb?
  12. Have I ever taken public transportation?
  13. Have I ever gone to the post office? Do I know how to mail a letter?
  14. Have I ever paid a bill?
  15. Have I ever gone to the bank?
  16. Have I ever used an alarm to wake up (parents don't count as alarm clocks in college!)?
  17. Have I ever used a calendar app/personal planner?
  18. Do I check my email every day?
  19. Do I check the weather before I go out for the day?
  20. Do I have a key chain/ring to keep my keys on?
  21. Have I ever used a navigation app to go somewhere?
  22. Have I ever ordered in food under my own name?
  23. Have I ever called customer support for a problem with my phone/computer?
  24. Do I know how to find a PIN number, a serial number, etc.?
  25. Do I know my social security number?
  26. Have I ever paid/contested a parking ticket?
  27. Do I know my license plate and VIN?
  28. Have I ever applied for a job?
  29. Have I ever paid taxes?
  30. Do I know how to fill out a W-4? I-9?
  31. Have I ever traveled without my family?
  32. Do I know how to get through airport security?
  33. Do I have a passport?
  34. Have I ever schedule an appointment/gone to the doctor myself?
  35. Have I ever lived away from home before?
  36. Am I good at remembering to keep in touch with people I don’t see every day?
  37. Have I ever shared a room/bathroom with another person?
  38. Do I know how to be a good roommate?
  39. Have I ever entered a new community before (moved schools, summer camp, etc.)?
  40. Am I comfortable making small talk with new people and finding new friends?
  41. Have I ever chosen my own classes before?
  42. Do I know what I like/how to ask for help when making decisions?
  43. Have I ever booked a ticket (bus or plane) for myself?
  44. Am I comfortable figuring out how to get back and forth between school and home?
  45. Have I ever taken a taxi/Uber?
  46. Have I ever experienced the weather of the location where my school is?
  47. Have I ever sent a professional email before?

Hopefully, this list didn’t stress you out. Even if it did, you’ll figure it all out at some point, but it never hurts to get a headstart prior to heading out the door!