100 Things I should Know before Starting College

100 things I should know before starting college

Table of Contents

If you are asking, what are 100 things I should know before starting college?

You are in the right place. This is a question posed by every college student to be. There are the basics, those items you stumble into, and then there are those things you wish someone had told you about.

For this post, we interviewed a number of college students, and below are 100 things they believe you should know about or know how to do before starting college.

So, What are 100 things I should know before starting college or as a young adult?

How to Drive

It may come as a surprise to you or not that many young adults do not know how to drive. You should learn how to drive to get around your college campus and surrounding areas without depending on others for the commute. Also, depending on your college’s location, you may need to know how to drive with rough drivers on very busy roads. Even if you don’t own a car, learn how to drive before starting college.

How to use a credit card

Most young adults know how to use a credit (or debit) card since most jobs offer this as a means of payment. Also, every account offers customers a debit card, meaning you will get one when you open your first account. Still, for those who don’t know how to use one, ensure you do.

How to open a bank account

Tied into the last point, everyone should know how to open a bank account. They should also know what documents are needed and the meaning of having a debit account versus a credit account. You should know what to do if your card goes missing. You should also know the consequences of using more money in your account than you have available. You also need to know how to balance your account at the end of the day.

How to write a check

When thinking about 100 things I should know before starting college, how about writing a check? Most young adults do not know how to write a check. This could be because most individuals don’t use checks, and many don’t know how to write one. Before you go off to college, you should know how to write a check and also make sure to order checks. You never know. This skill may come in handy someday.

How to pump your own gas

If you are one of those young people who never pump gas because your parents keep your gas tank full. Understand that this is a skill you will definitely need in college, especially if you already have a car.

How to sign your own signature

Most likely, in filling out applications for college, you should have had multiple opportunities to develop your own signature. You may also have had a chance to do so in high school. If not, create one and stick to it.

How to fill out simple application forms

Again, this is a skill you probably developed in high school. But if you are one of the many who had your parents taking care of this for you, you should practice filling out simple forms before college.

How to fill out complex application forms

This skill is not very different from filling out a simple application form, but it will require more focus, attention to detail, and sometimes advanced knowledge, and most likely a lot more time. Make sure to run complex application forms by a parent figure or teacher before submitting them.

How to pay your bills (online and offline)

Knowing how you pay your bills is extremely handy, as you will have quite a few once you are off to college. Most people learn this as a necessity since if you don’t pay your bills, you typically will lose the service. Tied into this is knowing how to select utility and service companies, avoiding those that try to entrap college-age students.

Here are a few things young adults need to know before they turn 25

Cost of college

Before starting college, you should know the cost of attending your prospective college. You may expect costs to include tuition, accommodation, books, and transportation, but colleges tag many other expenses like health insurance, fitness center, medical costs, and other costs for using college resources like the library and so on.

College is extremely expensive, and having a good understanding of the costs associated with the college will help motivate you to fill out scholarship and grant applications and make the best of your time in college so that you are not wasting funds. It will also help you decide what types of funding are best for you.

What college do you want to go to?

Colleges look for different things in students that they admit. If you know what college you want to go to, this will help with your application strategy as well as planning for housing, transportation, and other costs.

What you want to study in college

Many students struggle with what they want to become. When young adults don’t know what they want to study in college, they spend more time than is necessary for school. This is because they keep switching from one major to another. They also end up wasting a lot of resources, including tuition fees.

How to apply for grants

Grants and scholarships are the best way to get free money for college. Knowing how to apply for both effectively will help you cover most costs. Most high schools will have resources for grants and scholarship applications. Also, once you are accepted into a university, they will give you access to their scholarship hub. Make sure to take advantage of this resource since it is typically first-come, first-serve, and tied to stringent deadlines.

How to manage your time effectively

Time is the most valuable asset, and you will find that your time management skills will be the foundation of your success as a student in college. Take advantage of time-planning and management resources out there. There are a good number of them. Otherwise, buy a good old physical planner and make use of it. Time management is a skill everyone should know before starting college.

How to write an essay

Irrespective of your college major, you will be required to write multiple essays. Knowing how to write a good essay is a must.

APA and MLA citation formats

APA and MLA are the citation formats most popular in college. Do yourself a favor and learn how to cite in these formats, as this skill will be useful.

How to manage stress

College is extremely stressful, and so is young adulthood. Learning to manage stress before college will be a much-needed skill. Make sure to reach out to people like your parents if you feel very stressed so that others can support you through stressful periods.

Where to look for housing

Dorms are extremely popular for college housing, but they fill up fast. Many students equally like apartments geared for college students, usually located outside the college but close enough so that residents can still take advantage of the school’s resources.

Learn all housing resources that are available to you before college.

How to qualify for housing

Most college-age students will need quite a few things to qualify for housing. This will include a guarantor, apartment insurance, a clean background check, possibly references, etc. Find out what you will need to apply for new housing, so you can start working on putting it all together.

100 things I should know before starting college

How to make use of library services

The library is a great resource for college students, but many young people don’t form the habit of using one. Commit to using a library before getting into college so that you will already be used to working in one when you get into college.

Gyms and workout places near your prospective college

Health and fitness are pertinent to living a balanced life in college, this is why gyms make our list of 100 things I should know before starting college. Most schools have a gym for students and faculty. They also make you pay for this as part of your tuition. This should be a reason to take full advantage of your college gym.

Where to go for healthcare

As a young adult living at home, you may already be used to the institutions your parents choose for you. But as a college student, you will find that you need to start choosing your own doctors, hospitals, eye care, and dental specialists. Most colleges have their own healthcare institutions, and students can take advantage of them for a low fee while enrolled in college. Services may include primary care, mental healthcare, and even dentistry.

Know what is available to you before college.

How to get your own health insurance

You may already have health insurance with your parents or be close to aging out of your insurance. Most colleges offer health insurance, and you have this option even if you don’t want it. Find out what is available to you.

Where to find school clubs to join

Many young adults get into college and are part of everything. Others don’t know where to start and may spend all their years in college without joining one club. Joining school clubs help you build strong social and professional networks while offering you the experience you can include in your resume.

How to write a resume

Most jobs you will have before college may not need a resume, but once you start looking for competitive jobs and internships, you will. You need to know how to craft a resume before college. Once in college, however, you can take advantage of your school’s career services to improve your resume.

How to apply for a job

You may need a job while in college. Some students seek college jobs, but most work outside the campus. There are also paid work-study and research assistant opportunities for those who qualify.

How to take care of your own oral hygiene

As a student, your hygiene is very important, especially oral care. Not taking steps to ensure that you have a dentist may cost you the necessary care you need, such as scheduled cleanings. Also, try to do what you can on your own, like flossing after every meal, brushing 2-3 times daily, and using mouthwash.

How to take care of your hair

If your parents are instrumental in your hair care or hairdressing, you may feel overwhelmed thinking about what to do for your care. Try to find a hairdresser who can assist you while learning basic care and hair styling.

Other basic hygiene

At home, your parents may remind you to shower, comb your hair, etc. Know that you will not enjoy this privilege in college, and get in the right mindset to offer these prompts yourself.

How to stay focused

It is so easy to get distracted in college. What with newfound independence, people to meet, so many resources to get accustomed to, probably a new city to discover, not to mention social media, and so much more. Reduce distractions and stay focused on your goal.

How to make friends

It is easier to make friends if you are intentional about it. If making new friends in college is your goal, take some time to get it right. Joining college clubs and attending social events are good ways to meet new people outside of class.

General rights of a young adult

Know your rights as a young adult and assert them when needed.

Liabilities of adults

For most people, getting into college is the first time they get to leave home. With so much freedom, it is easy to get into trouble. For instance, hanging out with the wrong people, DUI, drug use and overdose issues, and getting into legal contracting problems are a few of the issues young adults run into.

How to cook

Everyone should know how to cook before starting college. You don’t need to know the fancy stuff, but you should know how to do basic things like boiling eggs, making pasta and sauce, or whatever simple things you eat at home. Knowing how to cook will help save funds and eat healthily while in college. It is also fun and a great way to relax for some.

What to eat

Freshman 15 is a term used to refer to young adults who are freshmen, given that they supposedly add an average of 15 pounds in their first year of college. The weight gain is attributed to bad eating practices usually practiced by new college students. Knowing what to eat before college can help you avoid this trend.

How long to sleep

Some college students oversleep, while others don’t get enough sleep. Find out how much sleep a young adult needs, and develop your own healthy sleep schedule.

How to stay in touch with people that matter

Remember that you come from somewhere and probably leave people you love and care about when you go to college. Know how to reach them and the best contact information for each of them before going to college.

How to budget

Most freshmen blow their allowances in no time. This is because they probably have never had the opportunity to practice managing their finances. The first step to good money management is understanding how to budget your money and live within that budget.

How to apply for student loans, scholarships, and grants

You may need student loans to attend college. Federal loans and private loans are very different and sometimes difficult to understand. The financial aid office at your prospective college is geared to offer you all the assistance you need before and while in college.

The importance of avoiding debt

While loans are available to you, you must understand the importance of avoiding debt before college, as debt must be paid back. A better option for funding your college education is through grants and scholarships.

Not everyone needs to go to college

While education is invaluable, and everyone should strive to be a lifelong learner. Education in the United States is extremely expensive. Make sure you understand what your goals are and what resources are available to you before taking that plunge.

Time is precious

Some people go to college without knowing what to do, so they waste so much time. which is more precious than money. Understand what you are doing in college, and stay focused. Don’t waste seven years on a course you can complete in four years.

Consider Community College

Most 4-year colleges allow you to transfer credits earned at a community college. These credits count towards your graduation. Make sure you explore opportunities to earn credits from community colleges during your freshman and sophomore years, as credits earned at a community college can greatly reduce your college debt.

Living is very expensive

It is a good idea to save up for at least four months of expenses before moving out to a dorm or new apartment. Most people do not know how expensive living outside their homes is until they actually move out. While dorms may be affordable, and grants and scholarships may help alleviate the costs, not everyone can qualify for free money. If you are considering attending college, start saving or get help from your parents.

How to select friends

Choose friends wisely. Nobody knows who they are in college as they are still transitioning into young adulthood. Meditate and try to discover who you are before choosing friends. Don’t make friends whose values don’t align with yours. Hanging out with people that aren’t good for you can affect you adversely. It is better to be alone and figure yourself out than to have the wrong friends.

Best places to get college books

The best places to get college books are not necessarily from your college bookstore. Consider buying used books, digital books, or loaning books from sites like Amazon.com to avoid high book costs.

Alternatives to college books

Again, there are alternatives to college books, such as digital books, notes, or even lectures on YouTube. Find out what works best and save your money for other expenses.

You can start a business from your dorm room and still go to college

Most people think they have to work traditionally to make money in college. But the internet has allowed many students to work from their dorms while attending college.

What is your passion?

Don’t waste funds or rack up loans you need to pay back by jumping into college just because. Understand what your passion is and align your education to your passion.

Financial Opportunities – Financial aids, grants, discounts

College students are privy to many financial resources; some don’t even know. Find out what grants, scholarships, and discounts are available to you. You don’t have to pay full price for everything. If a flight offers a college discount, take advantage of it. Ask at movies if there is a student discount and so on. This will keep more change in your pocket.

Who is your roommate

Most people know who their roommates are before college. This way, you can start planning for a successful school year or bonding if necessary. Be careful, however, as your roommate may be a stranger to you and not be who you want for a friend.

How to file taxes

Filing taxes is a necessary skill to know before college. If you don’t already work, you may have no need to worry about this. Still, there are times when college students must file taxes, not just to report earnings but to receive certain benefits.

How to stay fit

Staying fit is a skill you need to know before and during college. A fit body and mind can handle the stresses of college better.

How to dress

While not trying to impinge on your specific dress taste, as style can be very personal, you will need to know how and when to dress in specific ways and for specific occasions as a young adult. Developing this skill before college can be helpful.

Where to go to church

Did you know that 75% of young adults stop attending church once they get into college? Irrespective of your religion, find out where you can worship while in college. If you decided to stop attending church, it shouldn’t be simply because you got into college.

How to maintain your car

Many young adults get their first car just before they go to college. Giving your care the proper care it deserves will not just prolong its life and maintain its value, but you will also avoid its breaking down on you unpredictably.

How to talk to your professors

Your school professors are there to help you, and most of them want you to succeed. Knowing this should motivate you to want to talk with them and set up meetings to discuss the courses and projects you can get involved in.

Improve your brain health

The brain is much neglected when we think about our health, but people that focus on the health of their brain can use it more effectively and also help it last.

You will be doing a lot of work with your brain in college, so focusing on your brain health is not a bad idea. Don’t do drugs, avoid or limit alcohol, eat for your brain, practice mental exercises, and learn more about your brain.

Dr. Perlmutter is a leading researcher in brain health. You can learn how to care for your brain from him or other brain health practitioners.

Requirements for your degree

Find out what the requirements are for your degree. What are the courses you will take to complete your degree, are they courses you will enjoy, will they challenge you, or will you struggle with them? Make sure you understand what you are in for before college.

Jobs you can get with your prospective degree

Students have a history of completing degrees that will lead them nowhere. Make sure to check out the job market before proceeding.

Internship opportunities

To get a hands-on experience in your degree area, gain experience for future jobs, and stand out from the crowd, you should consider internship opportunities. Both paid and unpaid.

Where to find campus jobs

Working on campus and in work-study jobs is typically a convenient way to make money while completing your degree. Make sure to explore such opportunities.

Safety measures

Even in the safest universities, students are subject to violent crimes such as armed burglary, rape, and even murder. Try to protect yourself by staying in well-lit areas, avoiding walking or running in the dark, using the buddy rule, and avoiding being alone with people you do not know.

How to sue

Yes, there are times when people will infringe on your rights in a manner that may require you to seek legal action. Try to figure out what legal protections are available to you before college.

How to avoid getting into legal trouble

Corporations are not the only ones that can get into legal trouble, you can too. Do not sign anything without a parent or trusted adult reviewing it. Do not destroy other people’s property. Do not enter places where you are not invited, like other people’s apartments and so on. Avoid what you may consider “harmless pranks.” Remember, you are now an adult and can be liable for several things. See 30 things you can do when you turn 18 here.

Learn How to set up utility services

You will need utilities when you are in college. This may already be taken care of if you live in a dorm. If you are getting your own apartment outside the college campus, you may need to set up a few things, even if your apartment manager offers utility services.

Find a mentor in the industry you want to be in

Having a mentor has many benefits. Who can be a mentor to you? Ask your parents for help, sometimes, they have professional friends that want to mentor young adults. Ask your teachers in high school, people at your local church, or even in places where you volunteer your services.

Find out who your academic advisor is and try to meet up with them

Your academic advisor is going to guide you through college. Get to know who they are before college.

School loans must be repaid

It is sad to observe students spending their school loans as if it is allowance money from their parents. Before college, understand that school loans are just that, “loans,” and they must be repaid with interest. Limit what you borrow.

Apart from Loans, Grants, and Scholarships,

What other ways can you pay for college? Some colleges offer credits for job experience, and you can test out of some courses. Learn other ways you can earn college credits.

How to live with strangers

Learn that you will live with strangers, which comes with different expectations. People have extremely different personalities and expectations. This includes you. Learn how to deal with different personalities and avoid being affected by personalities that don’t offer you much.

Be wary of free meals

In many dorms, students are offered meal plans, which give them access to a buffet, but this doesn’t mean you should eat more than you need.

Learn how to work independently

Learning to work independently is going to be a life-saving skill for college. Set standards for yourself, plan your day, and be able to hold yourself accountable for the outcomes,

Rooms don’t clean themselves

Forming the right habits is partly what you get to learn in college. One important habit you can learn is how to clean up after yourself and stay organized.

Learn how to decorate on a low budget

A well-decorated room helps you with defining your personality and helps set your mood daily. It also is a good way to activate your creativity and showcase what is important to you.

Volunteer opportunities

Do not underestimate what volunteering your time can do for you and your community. Many people volunteer their time because it looks good on their resumes. Volunteering also gives you an opportunity to pick up experiences for work. Interestingly, it also has been reported to help individuals with a feeling of satisfaction that helps their mental state.

Find the cheapest ways to commute

Take advantage of resources for transportation which your college offers. For instance, some colleges will have buses that pick students up from specific locations and drop them off at key locations on the college campus. Also, schools may offer discounted costs for using city buses. Find out what resources your school has for transportation.

You don’t have to pay full price for everything

Whether or not you are a college student, learning to keep your money in your pocket will help you go a long way. Look out for sales, discounts, and coupons and take advantage of them.

Learn how to live with others

Whether in your dorm, apartment, workplace, or classroom, learn how to moderate your noise, share space, and clean up after yourself.

Learn how to diffuse conflict

Even if you are not someone that gets into conflict, you will run into personalities that do. Part of being a successful student or professional will be your ability to diffuse conflict.

How to study

Healthy studying skills are key to passing examinations and completing school assignments. Learn to sit at a place for extended periods and study. Only practice can help you master this necessary skill for college students.

Avoid Procrastination

Do not procrastinate. If you try to get your work done up-front, you will find that you will always submit your best work. Avoiding procrastination helps you meet deadlines, refine your work, reduce stress, and allow time for contingencies.

How to select study buddies

Best friends don’t necessarily make the best study buddies. Select study buddies that are interested in achieving the same goals as you are and that are taking the same courses as you. If you know individuals that will be attending the same college as you, you can start the selection process before college. Otherwise, you can do so during your first class.

Learn fast research strategies

Whether you are researching to complete a project or improve your studies, knowing how to do this quickly and effectively is a good skill to know before college.

Learn how to speak

You will need to speak in college if you are called before a class to answer a question, give a presentation, or simply articulate yourself compellingly. Practicing effective speaking skills is a good idea before college.

Take advantage of your career services

You should know that most colleges have career services to help you build your career and land an amazing job. While you may not be able to use this resource before college, knowing that it exists and planning to take advantage of it will put you ahead.

Learn what would result in academic discipline and how to avoid it

Whether it is scoring low grades or academic dishonesty, find out what your school admonishes and how to avoid being disciplined since this will affect your records.

Find out appeal processes

Know that your school has an appeal process if things go wrong, and understand how it works.

Learn how to transfer credits earned in High School

Many students attend other colleges for dual credits and some for full credits before college. Understanding how to take full advantage of all your earned credits by making them count towards your college degree is something you can work on before college.

Create your own personal degree plan

Even though your school should have a degree plan for you, you should personalize the degree plan to your own goals.

Understand the power of networking

From getting references, internships, job opportunities, and even academic opportunities, networking is going to be essential to your career. You should start networking long before college.

Find opportunities to put your skills to work in the community

Giving back to the community you live in, whether you are there as a homeowner, renter, or student, is a great practice to help you learn about your community’s needs and how to assist them.

Have reasonable expectations of your performance

College is hard. Many find it harder than high school initially, but it can be much easier to manage once you get the hang of it.

Find referrals for college application

Referrals will be needed for your college application and so much more when you are in college. It is a good idea to start building relationships for references before college.

Find out the strength of your prospective college and take advantage of it

Every college has its strength. Find out what the strength of your prospective college is, and make sure to take advantage of it.

Organize your day

Learning to plan your day and writing out what your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals are is a skill everyone needs. Also, reviewing your goals to ensure you achieved them and getting better at planning is a necessary skill for everyone.

Create a 30-day Challenge

30-day challenges help you jumpstart any project. It helps teach your discipline and consistency. To get started on the right foot as a college student, create a 30-day challenge for your first month in college.

Create affirmations to help you get through your days

Affirmations are an amazing way to keep yourself motivated throughout the school year.

Plan to balance your academics with a social life

In your first year in college, you may feel like so much is happening simultaneously, and therefore, you may become overwhelmed. It is a good idea to be intentional about your social life to give yourself a break in between studies. Start planning what you will do socially before college.

Create a backup plan

While I believe everyone should get a college education, you also have to ask, what if college doesn’t work out for you, what would you do? Make a plan to address this issue if it comes up later.

Plan to enjoy your time in college

Contrary to popular belief, college time does go by fast. It is also only a fraction of the time most people live. But it is a significant time in the lives of most, as college will define the life path of many people. We put together this list of 100 things I should know before college, to help you anticipate challenges you can overcome with planning. College life is definitely worth it, so make the best of yours!

Christine Udeani, JD
Christine Udeani, JD

Christine is a dedicated mother of six young adults and a teenager who has made significant contributions to the online world through her writing and entrepreneurship. She attended Northwestern University, Strayer University, Thomas M Cooley School of Law, NWCULAW, and holds degrees in business, Law, and Communications. She shares tips and experiences to help young adults and their parents with this generation’s issues.

Find me on: Web | Twitter


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