During the last month
- Look carefully at your class schedule. Mistakes happen, and you will find it much easier to correct them in the week or two before classes start.
- Do a campus walk-through. We are a small campus, but we are still big enough to be confusing. Some buildings are known by more than one name (a great example is the building our class is in: commonly called Dauch, it's also called COBE, which stands for the College of Business and Economics). Your Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule is different from your Tuesday-Thursday schedule. Walk both of them and actually find the rooms.
- Get an eye exam. Don't laugh. At least one student in every section I teach sits in the back, squinting and struggling to see the board. If you need glasses, get them. Wear them. They don't look weird.
- Go shopping. I assume you'll buy new clothes and such, but don't go overboard. What you wore in high school will probably work in college. Do be aware, though, that your class schedule will probably have you doing ten minutes of power-walking several times a week in November weather. If your aunt wants to buy you clothing, ask for boots, hat, gloves, and a warm coat. Dorm room stuff? Again, don't go overboard. Those rooms are tiny, and you don't know what your roommate will bring. If you are thinking of renting a truck to bring your stuff, you should scale back.
Things to buy before you get here
- Books? Maybe. Books are very expensive and places like Amazon can save you money, but Amazon can cause trouble too.
- For one thing, you will probably need your books by the second week of class, and you don't want to wait for Amazon to get around to sending them.
- For another, the college book market is very confusing. The publisher of our textbook lists no fewer than ten different related titles and options. If you order the wrong one, you will face a delay and extra expense.
- The campus bookstore has what you need, and they are quite good about getting things before the first day. (They wanted to know my book choices last March!)
- Computer stuff
- If you have a rich uncle who wants to buy you a computer, let him. If not, then perhaps you should wait. We have computer labs on campus, and you can get a discount for buying a computer through our IT department (though that will take a little while because they have to order it for you). You might like to try out several kinds before sinking that much money into a computer.
- Apple/Windows/Chrome? They all work here. If you have a good working computer from high school, just bring that.
- Tablets (such as iPad) are pretty useless. You cannot take notes on them, and they are difficult and frustrating to use for typing long papers. If you want a tablet for fun, go ahead, but it will not be a useful writing tool.
- Phone? I assume you already have one. Yes, students try to write papers on their phones, but it is quite slow and difficult. You really have no use whatsoever for a phone in our class. In fact, student use of cell phones in class is the quickest route to a C minus.
- Do not buy a copy of Microsoft Word. You get it free through the college, and there are other alternatives you might like.
- Notebooks, pens and paper. Definitely. Try out several pens and buy a couple that work well for you. You will be doing a LOT of writing in college. I recommend a wire-bound notebook for each class you take.
- Backpack or courier bag. You'll need a portable office, and a good backpack is a great help. I am also a fan of accordion file folders, the kind with several pockets so you can organize things for each class. Teachers will give you loose handouts, and you want them available.
- Office supplies. Take a trip to a place like Office Max or Staples and stock up. You will want (at least) highlighters, a good stapler, staples, pens, paper, and paper clips. I get a lot of use from a ruler. If you are bringing your own computer printer (not a bad idea), get a package of ink cartridges. All these things are available at the campus bookstore, but the selection is limited and the prices are higher. Besides, if you take your rich uncle with you, he might pay for the supplies.