As a recent college grad, I learned a great deal in my four years away from home. For the first time, I was balancing homework with a more “robust” social schedule, trying to stay connected with old friends now in different states, keeping my parents informed but also learning about independence.
Some of these lessons I learned the easy way, while others I learned the hard way. You live, you learn, you do better next time, right?
I found that smart use of the technology I had available to me and some common sense went a long way toward making college life easier and avoiding some of the problems that confront so many new students.
So before your new college students hit the road, check out a few of the basics I gleaned outside the classroom.
1. Review your phone’s data plan
Before you leave home, make sure to understand everything your cell phone plan includes; do you have unlimited talk and text, or set restrictions? Do you have nationwide calling, or will roaming charges cut your talk time short?
This was not something my family and I did, and I remember a conversation with my dad mid- October about how I was running up our cell phone bill calling my friends at schools across the country (whoops!). So do yourself, and your family, a favor and make sure you have the plan and device that’s right for you before heading off to school.
2. Organization is key
You know how important it is to keep all your pictures, videos, music and contacts on your phone organized, and it’s same way in your new dorm room too! My room freshman year had two outlets, and one was unreachable behind our fridge. This meant everything my roommate and I used: phone charger, lamps, curling irons, TV, computer chargers, hair dryers and microwave had to fit into one outlet. One! So we invested in surge protectors. Command hooks and Velcro tape helped consolidate wires and keep the mess contained behind our desks- out of sight, out of mind right?
We also learned ways to consolidate certain functions, like using my phone as an alarm too. You can also reduce clutter by playing music from your laptop instead of a separate set of speakers. Your dorm room won’t be big enough to need the heavy duty speakers you used to rock out at home.
3. Is your campus wireless?
Before heading off to your first day of class, you’ll want to find out if your campus has wireless internet access. You can usually find this information by searching “IT Services” on your school’s website. I was fortunate in that my school was completely wireless, so I could jump online in class, outside in the quad, and in my dorm. This meant I could use my wireless printer and laptop without additional Ethernet cords! Plus, I could work anywhere I wanted if the library was too crowded.
If you decide to bring your own printer to school, my advice is to buy your replacement ink and paper in bulk before you leave. It will be cheaper, and you’ll avoid the 2 am panic attack when you realize you’re out of ink but still need to print off that term paper. I’ve been there. Not fun.
Hopefully, you feel more prepared to start your college experience off right. Following a few of these lessons will no doubt make sure you stay connected in college!