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You've Decided on a College. What's Next?

What do you need to do after you've picked a college? Here's what to expect and tips for getting off to a great start as a college freshman.

Your years of herculean efforts have finally paid off. Congratulations! Just like that, you are starting your new college life. What's next?

What to Do As Soon As You've Chosen a College

If you are 100 percent convinced that this college will be your college, secure your spot by sending in the enrollment deposit. Your admission letter will include instructions for doing this. Here are two more steps you should take at this stage.

  • Notify the other colleges that accepted you. The easiest way to do this is to send an e-mail to their admissions offices.
  • Look for a message from the college containing your campus e-mail address and PIN. You should use this e-mail address for all your college communications.

Then Get a Grip on the Rest of Your Senior Year

Keeping your admission depends on keeping up your grades. Colleges can and will rescind your enrollment if you celebrate by letting your grades drop. The same is true of pranks and parties that get out of control. Don't let a warning from your high school (or the police) lead to a change of heart from your college.

What to Do by Graduation Day

Colleges require evidence that you kept up your grades through senior year.

  • Ask your high school to send your final transcript to the college. All colleges require this.
  • Arrange for your SAT, ACT, and other admissions test scores to be sent to the college, if you did not submit them earlier.

Start Looking for Important Documents from Your College

Carefully read every e-mail, text message, or snail mail you receive from your college. Share these messages with your parents so they can support you (and write the checks, in some cases). Here's what to expect.

  • Financial aid awards. You'll get a letter explaining your financial aid, which can be in the form of grants, scholarships, work-study, and/or loans. Decide which awards you'll accept, and return the signed form back to the financial aid office.
  • Housing and meal-plan forms. Look for a housing application and contract, instructions for selecting a roommate, a request for a deposit, and possibly a survey of your housing preferences. You'll also get instructions for selecting a meal plan.
  • Class registration instructions. You'll need to sign up for fall classes. You might also receive assignments to complete over the summer or be required to take placement tests.
  • Freshman orientation sign-up. An introduction to the college is offered by most colleges for new freshmen and their families. These events showcase the college and its programs. Many colleges also offer "pre-orientation" experiences that give new students a chance to interact with other frosh through activities, such as backpacking, volunteering, and travel.
  • Medical records and coverage. Your college will want to see your immunization record and possibly require a physical exam. It may also offer you medical insurance.
  • Bills for room and board, tuition, and other fees. Your college will expect you and your family to pay what you owe by the beginning of each semester or quarter.

Tips for Getting Off to a Great Start

  • Discuss the logistics of your new life with your parents. This includes banking, transportation options, and what to pack for college.
  • Get in touch with your roommate and start planning your dorm room furnishings. Be sure to look up dorm room rules before you acquire anything.
  • Give the college permission to talk to your parents. This helps your parents get information about your college bills and lets the college communicate with them if there is an emergency.
  • Plan to arrive on campus as early as possible. This will give you maximum time to set up your room, shop for needed items, get to know your roommate(s) and hall-mates, and learn your way around campus.