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An Expert's Tips on Preparing for College

Posted on Wednesday, Jul 22, 2020
The transition from high school to college is certainly, and in many regards, a difficult one. Coming from a very structured environment, where you attend class after class, from in many cases, 8am to 3pm, Monday-Friday, to an environment where you may only have 2-3 classes per day, lots of downtime, “freedom”, and be surrounded by over 50,000 people that are in your age group seems like a dream to many students. But, it is not without its challenges. Just getting yourself prepared can be a task all on its own. And what better way to do that than under a shelter at home order during a worldwide pandemic!...(that was sarcasm). Yes, the transition from high school to college even without the coronavirus is challenging, but it is also an exciting one. It tests what resources you will use to get prepared.

As a former student (alumni) of Texas A&M and a Regional Advisor (Admissions Counselor), I want to make sure to provide you with some of the standard next steps…as well as ones that you might not find on your Applicant Information System (AIS) Portal or the website!

• Make sure that you have indeed accepted your admissions offer and registered for a New Student Conference. Although virtual, it is still a requirement for any incoming freshman or transfer student. You can check this by logging into your AIS Portal.
• Once you have signed up for your New Student Conference, a new checklist appears. Make sure that you review the items listed. Many of them are hyperlinked to pages with additional information. Not all of the checklist items have to be completed before your New Student Conference. For example, the Math Placement Exam needs to be completed by most students before your New Student Conference, except for those in the College of Engineering and College of Science (minus Biology department majors). But, the Foreign Language Placement Test only has to be completed by a select number of students, usually in the College of Liberal Arts.
• Know which college and department you are in! This will be not only important for you to look up future resources and information on numerous things, but it is also a point of pride for many students and where your all-important Academic Advisors information is located! I always come across students who didn’t know that as a Biochemistry major, they are actually in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Or, that as a Zoology student, they are actually in the Department of Biology. It may seem confusing, but the majors reside in different colleges and departments for a reason.
• Don’t buy your books before class! Wait until you attend class the first day to see what you actually need and if older editions of the book are acceptable. Check out which online or local vendors offer discounted students accounts or free shipping. There are lots of ways to save money in college.
• On a different note, ask for gift cards for high school graduation gifts. You have your preferences on the things you like or dislike and what you need or don’t need. Gift cards are a great way to be able to make those choices. Do I want a striped blanket for my dorm or a polka-dot one? Should I buy a bike or a nice pair of walking shoes (because you will need to get around campus). Having the ability to make those decisions on your own will be one you will appreciate.
• Prepare and pack up your belongings ahead of time…not the day before move-in. And, do all of your purchasing for dorm or apartment supplies at home…all of the big-box retailers and grocery stores are packed during move-in week/weekend in Bryan/College Station. Avoid the crowds, lines and the risk of something being out-of-stock and gather your essentials beforehand at home!
• Attend a send-off event, whether sponsored by your local Prospective Student Center, A&M Club or Aggie Mom’s Club. It is a great way to meet some other incoming students from your area and potentially make some connections with Former Students.
• Enjoy your summer! This may very well be your last real summer of freedom! Every summer going forward will be filled with college classes, internships or study abroad. And after you graduate from college, unless you are a teacher or continuing your education…you don’t get a “summer” anymore. So, enjoy it while it lasts! Maybe get a part-time job to save some money for school or spend some quality time with friends and family (safely that is…once shelter-in-place orders expire).
• And if anyone told you that high school would be the best years of your life…they were wrong! College should and will be one of the best experiences of your life…especially at a place as amazing as Texas A&M. Meeting new friends (these will be the friends that you will definitely keep for a lifetime), learning how to be a young adult and experiencing life through a different lens will change your outlook and provide you with fond memories. Be smart about the choices you make in college, but enjoy yourself as well.

Your Regional Advisors are YOUR resource and ally through this transition. Even though we too are working from home…our commitment and our job descriptions have not changed. Whether it is a question on how to prepare for your New Student Conference, or maybe some advice on what items to bring with you to college, we as Regional Advisors are here to assist you through it all. If you are unsure of who your Regional Advisor is (you probably have numerous emails from them), make sure to visit the Regional Advisors webpage: You aren’t in this alone…as I always say to students and parents… “we are here to help!”