Preparing for the Big Transition: A Summer Checklist for College-Bound Students and Their Parents

4 min read
parent dropping off child at college

parent dropping off child at college

As the summer months unfold, the excitement and anticipation of starting college begin to build for both students and their parents. This period marks a significant transition from high school to higher education, and it’s crucial to be well-prepared for this new chapter. Whether you’re a student ready to embark on this journey or a parent eager to support your child, having a comprehensive checklist can make the transition smoother and less stressful.

Our College Transition Checklist is designed to help you navigate this exciting yet challenging time. It covers essential tasks across various areas, ensuring nothing is overlooked. From administrative duties to health and wellness preparations, financial planning to daily living skills, this checklist is your go-to guide for a successful start to college life.

Here’s a detailed look at the steps you can take this summer to ensure a seamless transition into college:

College Transition Checklist

  1. Administrative Tasks
  • Complete and submit the roommate questionnaire.
  • Set up and verify your student login credentials for college portals.
  • Identify how and when you will receive an academic advisor.
  • Register for fall semester classes.
  • Transfer any college credits earned in high school to your college (APs and SAT IIs).
  • Finalize and submit all financial aid paperwork.
  • Use the college’s online checklists to ensure you complete all necessary tasks.
  • Understand when Orientation is, and what is covered in it.
  • Research the services colleges offer students with a disability.
  • Identify any additional support services offered on campus.
  • Get all paperwork needed to receive accommodations.
  • Confirm your residency status if applicable.
  • Investigate voting laws in your state to see if you are eligible to register to vote.
  1. Social and Orientation Activities
  • Join college social media groups to connect with fellow incoming students.
  • Participate in any virtual or in-person orientation sessions offered by your college.
  • Reach out to future professors to introduce yourself.
  • During open house or orientation, join clubs offering virtual membership for incoming freshmen.
  • Attend any welcome events or activities organized by your college.
  1. Health and Wellness
  • Confirm health insurance coverage or enroll in the school’s health insurance plan.
  • Schedule and attend any necessary medical, dental, or vision appointments.
  • Ensure all required immunizations are up-to-date and submit health forms.
  • Establish existing supports (e.g., therapy, psychiatrist) for when you are in college.
  • Prepare a basic first aid kit for your dorm room.
  • Plan where you will incorporate fitness into your routine.
  • Develop a “game plan” for when you are sick – medicine, health center, food.
  • Ensure you have necessary prescriptions and know how to get refills.
  1. Financial Planning
  • Create a budget for the semester, including tuition, books, supplies, and personal expenses.
  • Search for and apply to additional scholarships.
  • Apply for or confirm any work-study applications.
  • Open a student-friendly bank account.
  • Track your expenses and practice sticking to a budget.
  • Understand your financial aid package and loan requirements.
  1. Housing and Move-In Preparation
  • Make a list of dorm essentials and purchase items like bedding, storage, and decorations.
  • Ensure sheets are Twin XL; consider a king comforter or quilt if you plan on lofting your bed.
  • Reach out to your future roommates to discuss what each person will bring for the room.
  • Organize move-in day logistics, including travel arrangements and move-in help.
  • Pack clothes, toiletries, and personal items needed for college.
  • Know if/where there are local stores for last-minute items.
  • Review your dorm’s policies on items you can and cannot bring.
  1. Academic Preparation
  • Find out which textbooks you’ll need and purchase or rent them.
  • Complete any required summer reading or assignments given by your college.
  • Establish a study routine (build out a calendar based on your schedule that includes study time – rule of thumb: for every hour in class, you should approximate 2 hours outside of class).
  • Confirm your counselor or department if you need special accommodations for testing, class notes, etc.
  • Review the academic calendar for important dates (drop/add deadlines, exam periods, etc.).
  1. Daily Living Skills
  • Learn how to do laundry if you don’t know already.
  • Learn to cook a few simple, healthy meals.
  • Plan ahead for any dietary restrictions by identifying available food on or near campus.
  • Practice managing your time effectively with a planner or calendar.
  • Ensure your current phone plan will meet your needs.
  • Develop a “game plan” for when you are sick – medicine, health center, food.
  • Understand basic cleaning and room maintenance tasks.
  1. Technology Preparation
  • Ensure you have a reliable laptop, charger, and any other necessary tech.
  • Backup important documents and files to a cloud service or external drive.
  • Download any apps or software recommended by your college.
  • Remove any apps that may become detrimental distractions.
  • Verify that your tech meets the college’s specifications (e.g., antivirus software).
  1. Campus Familiarization
  • Familiarize yourself with the campus and surrounding area.
  • Research and make a list of campus organizations and clubs to join.
  • Sign-up for a campus meal plan.
  • Walk your schedule to ensure you can get from dorm-to-class-to-class on time (do this during orientation if possible).
  • Know where the campus mail-room is located.
  • Know where campus health is located.
  • Locate key buildings such as the library, student center, and academic advising offices.
  1. Other
  • Establish a plan for managing and securing your medications.
  • Develop logistics of returning home – when will you first come back, how will you get back.
  • Make sure your car, if bringing one, is registered and you have parking arrangements.
  • Update your address with banks, subscriptions, and other necessary services.
  • Set up emergency contacts in your phone and know the campus emergency procedures.
  • Establish an understanding of communication between you and your family (frequency, preferred methods, times, etc.).


This checklist is designed to help both students and parents feel prepared and confident as they embark on this new journey. By addressing each of these areas, you’ll ensure a smooth transition to college life, setting the stage for a successful and fulfilling freshman year. Be sure to download your copy here: College Transition Checklist.

Casey Schmalacker

Casey Schmalacker, Vice President at New Frontiers, is a seasoned leader in marketing, sales, and business development. With a dual degree in Government and Law and Economics from Lafayette College, he has spent the past 10 years coaching students, adults, and organizations to improve executive functions, soft skills, and workplace performance. Casey’s approach is rooted in strategic development and a passion for personalized coaching, emphasizing a culture of continuous improvement.

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