5 Things You Should Know How to Do Before Going to College

Now I’m only halfway through my freshman year, so I’m no seasoned professional. I can’t tell you how to find an apartment (YET – I’m working on it), what the best dining plan is, or how to figure out what you want to major in. But I can tell you five things I was very happy I knew how to do before I went to college, because they turned out to not only be useful, but necessary.


1. Writing and responding to emails and letters.

Now this is something I still go to my mom for help with, but overall, I can write a basic professional email. Keys to this are making sure you’re addressing the receiver properly (I’ve written the wrong name at the top before… whoops) while using their correct title (such as Dr., Ms., Mr., etc), using proper grammar and punctuation, signing your full name at the end if it is your first correspondence, not using an overly casual tone, saying thank you, and leaving any necessary contact information at the bottom. Make sure you’re very clear about what you want in the email or in answering any questions they may have for you. Most importantly: don’t forget to send the message using the right email. No one wants to suddenly realize they sent a professional email from their embarrassing account they made in the 6th grade.


2. How to do laundry.

This seems super obvious, but I know plenty of people who went to college having no idea how to use washers and dryers. Let me break it down for you:

            a. Separate lights and darks, and you can wash them on warm.

            b. If you want to wash everything together, put it on the cold setting.

c. You can use liquid detergent, but I find it easier to use the pods since you just throw them in and there’s no measuring involved.

d. If you’re not sure if your laundry is going to completely dry in one cycle, put it on for an extra one. It’s usually an extra 25-50 cents but its better than having to run it through another drying cycle.

e. Take your laundry out of the washers and dryers on time because people will pull your stuff out and put it on top of the machine whether its dry or not – and they won’t always be gentle with it.

f. I find folding therapeutic, so I fold my laundry right away. Its also good to fold it right away to avoid wrinkling, which is just a pain.

Voila, I’ve just taught you how to do your laundry.


3. Budget.

I’ll admit this isn’t my strong suit since I love shopping, but it’s important nonetheless. It’s good to sit down after a couple of months and figure out how much you spend on things like drinks and snacks, transportation and miscellaneous purchases versus how much you have in spending money. Then from there you can figure out your budget per month, week, or  semester. Especially with the holidays coming up, it’s good to know how much you have to spend on presents for friends and family.


4. Pack efficiently.

This is critical for move-in day, breaks and move out day. Move-in day is ridiculously hectic, and you’re going to be swimming in boxes and bags. But those can be consolidated if you know how to pack efficiently. This means packing by season rather than bringing your entire wardrobe at once, fitting socks into your shoes, and knowing how to utilize all of the pockets in your suitcase. For breaks, you’re probably going to be at the stage where most of your seasonally appropriate clothing is at school. Don’t forget things like socks and underwear because you’ll soon realize you brought all of them to school with you. Move out day is the ultimate day for knowing how to pack. Odds are you’ve accumulated a lot during the school year from shopping, friends or free giveaways. Make sure you know how to pack everything so you only need to take one trip home with minimal shipping.


5. Utilize small spaces.

Your dorm room is a lot smaller than your bedroom at home and you only get to use half of it (unless you have a single), so knowing how to get what you want into a small amount of space is really important. I have a hanging rack in my closet where I can fit tons of sweaters, shirts and jeans that I wouldn’t have room for otherwise. I utilize the space underneath my bed for storing travel bags, cleaning supplies and random things I can’t put anywhere else.


College provides you with a lot of skills like learning how to navigate on your own and figuring out how much coffee you need to pull an all-nighter. But these five things are really important to know before you go to college. No one wants to be the person that floods the laundry room or has their credit card declined at dinner with your friends. But my job is to make sure you know how to college, so here are five things you can add to the long list.