Wisconsin College Planning Checklist for May
Milwaukee College Consultants Offer Valuable Tips for Students Preparing to Graduate High School
Graduating high school can be an exciting and stressful time for students. By now, you should have already applied and been accepted to your technical college, community college, private college, or state university of choice. Below is a list of college planning tips specific to the month of May. This college planning guide is a valuable resource in keeping you on-track and ahead of the game, ensuring you enter college prepared and confident.
- High School Transcript: Call or email your high school admissions office to ensure your school counselor has (or will be) forwarding your transcripts to the correct college at the correct address. It’s always a good idea to receive verbal and written confirmation of this.
- Summer Job: If you haven’t already, finalize your plans for a summer job and start saving up money.
- College Orientation: Different colleges offer different orientation programs. Some have very basic orientations, while others have more in-depth introductory receptions. Either way, it is highly encouraged for incoming freshman to take part in one or all college orientation opportunities. These orientations will dramatically reduce your stress levels while providing useful campus information. Here is a list of the most common freshman orientation events:
- Freshman Orientation Tours: These are highly recommended to give new students the tools they need to comfortably and confidently navigate campus, as well as find out more about some of the school’s clubs, associations and athletics
- Preview Days: Preview Days provide more than a basic campus tour. These opportunities allow students to interact with other incoming freshman, sit in on classes, attend informational sessions on financial aid, scholarships and admission, as well as participate in other activities designed to give future students a true feel for the college’s academics, sports, student community and overall collegiate environment.
- Overnight Stay: These generally, but not always, accompany a Preview Day to enable students to get the most comprehensive feel for college life. Future students may either be housed with fellow incoming freshman and/or with current college students. Often, special events are scheduled during overnight stays, such as dances, standup comedian performances, band concerts and other shows or activities.
- Special Note: While most colleges offer staggered orientation sessions, many of these orientation programs fill up fast, so do your research and find out what orientation dates are available, what dates will work with your schedule and enroll immediately.
- Prepare a College Budget: College can quickly siphon your financials if you do not have a proper budget in place. Below are a list of areas which may require your fiscal attention:
- Books: Some colleges offer book rental, while others make you buy all of your books. While book rental is ideal, you usually still have to buy books here and there depending on the class and instructor. If you have to buy all of your books, it is important to keep them in good condition (and keep your receipts somewhere safe!) so you can resell them to the school or other students upon completion of the course.
- Housing: Dorms are often a cheaper option than on or off-campus housing. They are also highly recommended because they establish a network of peers where students can easily make new friends. Generally, dorms are also closer for commuting to classes. Some colleges require freshman (and even sometimes sophomores) to stay in the dorms. Other colleges are more flexible on this topic. Either way you should be setting aside money for college housing (dorms) and/or communicating with your future roommates as to how much rent will be in the apartment or house you’ve elected to live in.
- Décor: Another hidden cost of college. While you can be extremely minimalistic with this aspect, it is something a huge majority of students enjoy partaking in. For college décor on a budget check out school poster sales, Goodwill stores, rummage sales, and “sidewalk sales” (a free-for-all of unwanted furnishings set out on sidewalks for anyone to take. This event generally happens at the beginning and end of semesters when everyone is moving. Just make sure you’re taking someone’s recycled furnishings and not stealing wanted furniture which just hasn’t been moved yet).
- Food: Many colleges offer meal plans, but be forewarned: much of the food available is unhealthy (often this is a huge aspect of the “freshman 15”). Generally, meal plans are less expensive and more convenient than eating out.
- Athletics: If you plan on being in collegiate or intermural sports, be prepared for the athletic fees, including uniforms, away game trip expenses, fundraising buyout fees and other hidden costs.
- Transportation: Some colleges discourage first year students from having a car on campus, while others allow anyone to have a vehicle. Biking, rollerblading, skateboarding, longboarding or just good old fashioned walking will save you a substantial amount of money. If you do need to get around town, there are generally taxis, buses or other public transportation available.
- Entertainment/Emergencies: First year students generally do not need a lot of money for entertainment as the simple college experience is exciting enough. Plus, there are a lot of free programs, shows, activities etc. available to students. However, do plan to have some money saved away for entertainment or unforeseeable emergencies.
Wisconsin College Planning Seminars for College Prep and Financial Planning
Beginning college is an exciting adventure. It’s a time to expand your educational and social horizons while learning more about yourself and the world we live in. However, proper college financial planning can be a great burden for many students. Integrated College Planning is committed to providing graduating high school students with the information and tools they need to be prepared and successful in college. From tackling college admissions to discerning UW financial aid information, we provide you with the best college preparation guides, seminars and Wisconsin college planning workshops.
Go back to the April college planning checklist.
View the June college planning checklist.