If you’re reading this, it’s more likely than not that you have committed to college, so, congrats! It was only a few years ago (okay, maybe like 6?) that I went through the college admissions process for myself, and I can still remember how excited I was to finally commit to my top school, The University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Like many processes though, once you have made the decision to commit to a school, the work and planning certainly doesn’t end - there’s more that must be done! So, in this post, I’m going to outline the 8 things I did, that you should definitely do, once you’ve committed to college.
This was definitely the first thing I did after committing to UW.
I was so excited, that before I had even put down the deposit, I had ordered a hoodie and hat from the bookstore to celebrate!
This step is of course not totally necessary, but I think it’s a fun way to celebrate your decision to commit to college because it gets you in the spirit!
This is one thing that most students, in their excitement of having finished the application process and committing to a college, tend to forget about.
However, it’s an important (and courteous) thing to do. Why? Well, since your commitment to your college of choice solidifies that you are not going to attend the other schools you were accepted to, by letting them know that you won’t be attending, they can open up your spot to someone who was waitlisted.
The process for declining acceptances looks different for each school.
Some schools may include information in your acceptance letter or on your online portal about how to decline admission, whereas others may have a form somewhere on their website that you can fill out. If you’re unsure of where to look, I suggest googling something along the lines of “how to decline admission for [insert school name]”.
Naturally, now that you have verbally committed to the school of your choice, you also are going to have to make a deposit to confirm your enrollment to officially solidify things. Similar to #1, there is definitely information on how you can go about doing this in your acceptance letter and/or on your application portal.
Enrollment deposit amounts vary, and can be anywhere from $100 to $1,000. Keep in mind that this deposit is usually non-refundable after a certain point, so if for any reason you decide to back out after your school’s deadline, there’s a good chance that this money won’t get returned to you.
Once you have confirmed your admission and officially committed to college, at some point in the spring or summer, you can expect to receive information about taking placement tests. Each school has a different policy for when these tests get taken and which ones you must take. However, if you are attending a 2 or 4-year college, it is likely that you will be required to take at least one.
These placement tests are used to help your school determine what level you are at in subjects such as math, English, foreign languages, etc, so that they can figure out which introductory level classes you should be starting out in.
After I committed to UW-Madison, I was sent information to sign up for a time slot to go to a local testing center and sit for a few different placement tests. If I remember correctly, I took one for math, English, and Italian. I am NOT good at math, so my score there did not place me out of absolutely anything. However, my English score, along with my AP scores, allowed me to place out of certain introductory-level English and writing classes, so that was ideal!
One other thing I should note about these placement tests is that they are not tests that you are expected to prepare or study for. While your score matters in terms of helping the school determine which classes you can start out in as a freshman, your scores aren’t used to determine scholarships or anything like that, so you can take a deep breath and chillax!
Things are certainly looking a bit different this year because of COVID, but usually, orientation is a time where incoming students gather on campus to start to get acquainted with everything you will need to know to have a successful transition from high school to college.
Orientation usually takes place over the summer and can be anywhere between a few days to a week long. Every school’s orientation is different, but most of them include advising sessions, informational Q&A sessions, and the chance for you to, of course, meet and interact with other incoming students.
I remember flying out to Madison, Wisconsin around the end of my senior year (I think it was in June or early July?) for orientation. I met a lot of people, which was definitely a little bit overwhelming, but the experience was definitely helpful because I had the opportunity to explore a bit more around campus when it was emptier (summer break). I also made my initial first-semester schedule during orientation.
Regardless of whether or not you can actually get on campus for orientation this year, I’m sure that your school will have lots of accessible resources and people that you can reach out to to have a valuable, albeit a different, orientation experience. Be sure to utilize everything that they send your way.
Now that you’ve committed to college, if you’re anything like me, you’re thinking about the next steps in terms of what life on campus is going to be like. And, a big part of life on campus for a lot of students is the dorming/roommate experience. If you have already decided that you want to go random, then you can probably skip this step, but if not, keep reading!
After I decided on UW, I joined a bunch of Facebook groups, GroupMe chats, and other online forums for the Class of 2020. These were a great way to meet incoming students who were in the same boat as me. Recent advancements in technology can certainly be used to your advantage to help you find a roommate.
Also, if you aren’t on it already, I recommend joining Zeemee. It’s an app designed to help high school seniors connect with other students (both high school and college level) and with schools themselves to learn more about them in a unique way. The app is basically a combo between Discord and a dating app, so you fill out your unique profile and you can mention on there if you are looking for a roommate. Super easy and fun!
I remember just chatting up different people, asking about their interests and what they liked doing in their free time, and other basic things like that. I eventually connected with a girl through some mutual friends, and since we both lived in NJ, we were able to meet up before confirming our decision to room together.
Along the same spectrum of searching for a roommate, I was also very eager to get to planning out what my dorm room would look like and how I wanted to decorate it. This part of the process, if you enjoy designing and online shopping, will probably be very fun and exciting for you, just as it was for me!
Before you go ahead and start ordering things galore, I suggest making some sort of spreadsheet or word document where you can write down all of the things you need and the things you already have, so that you don’t go buying things you don’t need. Lots of websites out there have checklists for moving to college, which are definitely helpful in making sure that you buy and pack everything that you need to live comfortably.
Also, one additional thing that you will want to consider is the logistics of buying things and moving in. Are you attending school somewhere where you can drive there and back, and easily fit most of the stuff in your car or a U-Haul? If you are attending school somewhere that is a long drive or flight away from where you currently live, then you will also want to keep that in mind.
Since I flew out to school (15-hour drive, no thank you!), I got a lot of my freshman year dorm things shipped directly to campus so that I wouldn’t have to pay additional shipping costs. I highly recommend you do the same, and plan in advance for this!
Back to the dorm room shopping. I recently updated my student deals page, to feature things such as dorm room essentials, and other fun stuff like that. Be sure to check it out so you don’t miss any of the must-haves!
This wouldn’t be a productive blog post if I didn’t plug the importance of still applying to scholarships even once you’ve committed to college! Depending on the financial aid package you received from your school, you may find that there are some gaps in terms of how much you were given and how much you are left to pay.
Luckily, scholarships are available to you even after you’ve graduated from high school and basically until you graduate from college or grad school! Be sure to head over to my scholarship search to find some great scholarships that you can apply to to help you shave some off of what you owe in tuition + fees.
Pro-tip: Get ahead by reading through my blog post on 50+ college scholarships!
Taking out student loans is also another common way to help you pay for college, although this option should only be exhausted after all other options have been explored and researched. There are many different types of loans out there - check out the widget below to explore some more!
I can still remember how relieved I was to be done with the college prep and application process because it was definitely a stressful time that felt like it would never end. I’m here to tell you that, at one point (whether it’s sooner or later), it WILL end, and then you can take some time to relax and enjoy yourself before jumping into a new chapter of academics and life!
Again, if you’re like me, you may feel the need to get going at warp speed to start working on the next big chapter/preparing for it after you’ve finished the admissions process. I highly suggest, if you can, to take a bit of a break if you can before jumping right into all of the college prep/dorm room things. You have been working so hard to get to where you are now, and you deserve a break!
On the opposite end of the spectrum, be sure that you don’t put important things off until too late during the summer. It’s all about finding the balance between giving yourself a rest and making sure that everything that needs to get done, still gets done, so that you can start off on the right foot.