Preparing for your first year of college can seem overwhelming. For many students, it will be the first time they have ever lived away from home; not to mention the difficulties of adjusting into a more challenging and diverse school environment. Fortunately, there are things you can do during summer break that will make the transition easier so you can walk into your first day of classes feeling confident and ready.

Go to orientation: At orientation, you’ll learn about the college’s history and values, take a campus tour and get tons of useful information about the various resources and opportunities available to you as a student. You’ll also get to mingle with other new students, giving you an opportunity to make friends and connections before you even step into a classroom.

Get familiar with the school website: Make sure you know how to navigate both the school’s main site and the online program you’ll be using to register for classes, check your grades and view important financial aid and loan information. It may all seem overwhelming at first, but taking the time to explore these platforms before school starts will

Start your college shopping list: If you’re going to be living in a dorm, you will probably be picking up quite a few new things to bring with you. Put together a master list of everything you will need, and over the summer pick up things a little bit at a time so you don’t end up scrambling a week before school starts.

Begin packing: Again, do not put this off until the last minute. Pack things up a little bit at a time so it doesn’t seem so daunting and be selective about what you bring. College should feel like a fresh start, don’t weigh yourself down with unnecessary items.

Purchase your books: After you’ve registered for classes, print out the required course texts and materials and head into either your school bookstore to purchase them or you can check out online retailers like Barnes & Noble, Chegg or Amazon, who normally allow you to rent or purchase used copies at discounted prices.

Invest in new technology: If your laptop is more than 3 years old, this is a good time to get a new one. Investing in a new computer will set you up for college success and a decent model should last you all four years. Tablets, chargers and USB devices are all things to consider purchasing.

Take placement tests: Taking a placement test could save you from having to take certain math and language courses that you can place out of from the start. Consider taking them before you register for certain classes and you could save time and money down the road.

Apply for student loans and financial aid: Make sure you’ve completed your FAFSA and gotten all materials in by the deadlines. Be sure to make arrangements so your funds are available to you come school time. If you have any questions about where your money goes or when it will be available, call the school’s financial aid office to clarify.

Talk with your parents about important matters: How often will you be communicating with them while you are away at school? Are you going to come home during the holidays and summer vacation? And if so, how will you be traveling? If your parents are going to be providing you with a stipend to help with your expenses, make sure you have all banking and transfer information figured out. Talk with your parents about the classes you’ll be taking, clubs you’re interested in, and ideas about your major. They probably are just as excited as you are, and want to be involved in the process.

Spend time with your friends: One of the hardest things about going away to college is leaving all of your friends back home. So over the summer, take advantage of every chance you have to spend time with them. Take a road trip together, go camping, try something new. Creating fond memories over the summer will help you leave feeling grounded and strengthened in your friendships, even though you may not see them very much over the next four years.

Contributed by Michelle DeRoetth, Life Skills Coach at Northwest College Support