A to Z Guide to College Transition

by Bethany Goldszer | Last Updated: April 17, 2019

Time needed: 9 minutes.

Seniors – by now you have received your admission letter and are ready to enroll in college. Great! Read this list of steps to take between now and the first day of classes to ensure a smooth college transition. Consult with the enrollment letter provided by your school, and keep in close contact with your college for important updates about your enrollment status.

As you navigate the enrollment process, I hope you find this A to Z guide to college transition helpful, along with other tips that will lead to matriculation success.

College Enrollment Guide, A to Z

  1. Academic Adviser

    You will be assigned a college adviser who will meet with you every semester to assist with planning your degree program curriculum and registering for classes. Like with your guidance counselor, the academic adviser’s time is in high demand. Once an appointment is made, do your absolute best to keep it. Not doing so could mean you risk not being able to register for classes you want to take.

  2. Online Chalkboard

    You will be provided access to an online blackboard portal that allows you to interact with professors and students; download course document resources, upload assignments and receive important announcements. Like your email, you are advised to check the blackboard site daily.

  3. Commitment Fee

    This is the fee you mailed ranging from $250 to $500 to secure your spot. Your commitment fee will be deducted from your fall tuition bill.

  4. Deadlines

    Carefully check deadlines on all forms due and departments to which they are due. Enrollment forms will need to be sent to various departments, from housing and college admissions to the student health center, financial aid, and bursar’s offices to name a few.

  5. Email Account

    Upon being provided with instructions to set up your .edu email address, you can begin communicating as a college student. Make sure the credentials you set are highly secure, yet easy to remember as these will be used to access different technologies on campus such as library book reserves, WiFi and computer lab stations.

  6. Financial Aid

    Meet with the financial aid office to obtain and sign your final award letter. Know that it’s never too late to ask for additional resources if you need more aid. Be prepared to submit documentation supporting your changed circumstances. Read the SOCP article about how to negotiate a financial aid award.

  7. Getting Around

    Learn about transportation options for getting around campus. Many colleges have shuttles with various routes around school and town. Once you obtain your class schedule, practice commuting from your home or dorm to classes to ensure you arrive on time the first day.

  8. Housing

    As soon as your housing application arrives, complete and return it to the housing office. The best dorms fill up fast, and housing for first-year students, while guaranteed is reduced down to the less favorable dorm facilities. You can expect to be asked to pay a separate housing deposit fee to reserve your room, ranging from $250 to $500. This deposit amount will be deducted from the first-year room and board costs.

  9. Immunization Records

    After getting a physical, submit your updated immunization and health record forms to the campus health services office.

  10. Job Search

    Although not advised in the first year of college, if you are interested in obtaining part-time paid employment, learn where on campus you can find campus jobs and get assistance with your resume, cover letter, and preparing for job interviews.

  11. Keep Your Parents Updated

    Although on your own, it’s important to keep your parents updated on how things are going during the first days of college. If you go too long without calling, you may get an embarrassing message from your mom via your resident assistant. It’s your first time away from home, so they want to make sure you’re ok.

  12. Learn Your Campus Map

    Look through the campus map and get to know landmark buildings, such as ones where your classes will be held. Other buildings to find are your dorm, dining hall, student center, health center, and the writing center.

  13. Major

    Contrary to popular belief, it’s common to enroll into college not knowing your major. Many colleges, particularly liberal arts colleges are designed to have first-year students take core classes and electives to explore their academic talents and interests. There will be time at the end of freshman year, or during the sophomore year to begin the process of declaring a major. Your advisor will walk through this process with you…just don’t miss the appointment!

  14. Nutrition

    Read through your school’s housing and dining website to learn about meal plans and dining food options.

  15. Orientation

    Sign up for new student orientation immediately. Spots fill up fast and are related to your ability to meet with your advisor and register for the classes you want to take.

  16. Physical

    Don’t delay this important step. Make an appointment with your physician to get a physical and any outstanding immunizations as required by the college.

  17. Questions

    As a first-year or transfer student, the best thing you can do to get to know your school is to ask questions. Remember your college has assigned a team of people to help you acclimate to your new environment and campus life.

  18. Roommate

    You don’t have to wait until move-in day to meet your roommate. Exchange social media handles and connect on Skype to start building a rapport.

  19. Sign Your Master Promissory Note

    If you are taking out student loans, the student aid office will ask you to complete loan entrance counseling, often online, as well as sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN). This is a required step before your loan will be dispersed to the bursar’s office.

  20. Testing

    Placement exams are required tests that freshman and transfer students take to assess readiness level for the college’s course series, usually in math, foreign languages, humanities, and the physical sciences. Take these exams seriously as doing well can save you time from taking classes you’ve already mastered, or money by giving you free college credits.

  21. Username and Password

    Your log-in credentials are sacred. Come up with something easy to remember as you will need it for email, the blackboard, accessing WiFi, library book reserve, etc. Never share your credentials with anyone, not even your adviser or resident assistant.

  22. Verification

    If selected for financial aid verification, you will receive a form that will need to be completed and returned to the financial aid office before the money is dispersed.

  23. What to Bring

    Make a list of what to bring to your dorm and take it along as you shop at your local department store. Click here for a list.

  24. Xerox Everything

    Throughout the summer you’ll be submitting forms to various offices across your college’s campus, along with thousands of other students sending the same forms. Part of being human, errors are bound to happen. To reduce the likelihood of delays in matriculating, make a copy of everything you send and confirm its receipt with the appropriate department by phone or email.

  25. Your College Experience

    The first days of college set the tone for your college experience. Get started the right way by submitting all that’s required, keeping your appointment with your academic adviser, meeting peers, getting to know your campus, asking members of your college transition and support team questions.

  26. Zero-Tolerance

    Know your college’s zero-tolerance policies with regards to alcohol usage, drug use, weapons, and anything that puts yourself and peers at risk. The New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority has a famous mantra: “If you see something, say something.” Campus consequences for participation in zero-tolerance activities or failure to inform campus officials can lead to consequences ranging from moderate (warnings, fines, and parental notification) to severe (suspension or expulsion).

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Bethany Goldszer is top college admissions and financial aid expert. She's been featured in HuffPost, USA Today, Newsday, Queens Gazette, and Official Black Wall Street & voted Best of Long Island. Faced with the overwhelming stress of applying, getting admitted to and financing her University of Chicago education, she started Stand Out College Prep LLC in 2012 so that no student or parent would have to go through this process alone. Over the last 15 years, Bethany has worked with over 1,500 students, helping them and their parents get into their top choice colleges and secure more than $20M in financial aid and scholarships. And each year, she continues to help more students stand out in the college admissions process and their parents navigate financial aid and scholarships.