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  • The summer before college is a great time to prepare for your first semester.
  • Tackle logistics like preparing to move, organizing your finances, thinking about health insurance, and more.
  • Planning ahead before classes start can reduce stress and make for a smoother transition to college.

The run-up to freshman year is usually an exciting time. Most students use these months to catch up with friends, get some quality time with family, and prepare for their first year of college like shopping for dorm room essentials. On top of the fun stuff, there are also some other important things to do that are easy to overlook. If you’re wondering what else you need to do the summer before college, we’ve got you covered. Here are seven key tasks to put on your to-do list.

1. Create a budget

College might be the first time you’re managing your money on your own. A budget is a plan for how you’ll do that. It doesn’t have to be complex—a budgeting app or good old-fashioned spreadsheet can get the job done. To set one up, start by clarifying your monthly income, which can include money you receive from your parents or cash you have coming in from a part-time job or side hustles. The next step is organizing your expenses. That begins with:

  • Getting your fixed expenses situated. These are recurring expenses you have to pay every month. That includes your housing costs, car payment, gas, cell phone, insurance payments, and the like.
  • Setting money aside for flexible spending. Your entertainment costs, clothes, shopping, and fun money go in this category.
  • Saving for the unexpected. That includes surprise expenses like car repairs or a pop-up medical bill.

The goal is to make sure your expenses don’t outweigh your income. If they do, you’ll want to reduce your spending to even things out.

2. Get your bank accounts situated

This goes hand in hand with making your college budget. If you haven’t already done so, open up your own bank accounts:

  • Checking account: Establish a checking account with a debit card to be used for regular spending, paying bills, and covering everyday transactions. You may be able to link some or all your bills to this account so that they’re automatically paid every month.
  • Savings account: Use this account to park your cash savings. One rule of thumb is to save three to six months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund. If that feels intimidating, start small and get in the habit of saving a little bit every month. One benefit of a savings account is that you may earn interest on your balance.

3. Open your first credit card

Once your bank accounts and budget are up and running, you can consider opening your first college credit card. Using it responsibly is a simple way to build your credit history, which directly affects your credit score. That’s no small thing. Lenders consider your credit score before approving you when you eventually apply for a car loan, mortgage, or any other type of financing. A strong score can help you get the best interest rates. Meanwhile, a less-than-perfect score could prevent you from getting approved—or leave you stuck with a high interest rate.

Ideally, you’ll use your credit card for regular expenses and pay it off in full at the end of each billing cycle. Making on-time payments and maintaining a low balance are the best ways to keep your credit score going strong.

4. Share your college calendar with your family

Use the summer before college to bring your family up to speed on your schedule and plans for the upcoming academic year. That includes your academic breaks, along with any times you plan on coming home. You can also mark your own calendar if you need to make travel plans. That might include setting reminders to research and book flights or a rental car for holiday travel.

5. Get your car ready

If you’re taking your car with you to college, the summer after high school is probably a good time to get it checked and serviced. Make sure your vehicle is up to date with things like:

  • Oil changes
  • Tire lifespan and rotations
  • Air filters
  • Repairs you’ve been putting off
  • Any recalls that may have been issued by the manufacturer

You might also consider adding roadside assistance to your car insurance. That can come in handy if you break down while away at school.

6. Figure out the logistics of moving

Whether you’re moving to a dorm or off-campus housing, think about the nuts and bolts of your move. That can include:

  • Stocking up on moving supplies like boxes, bins, and packing tape
  • Booking a moving truck if needed
  • Contacting your dorm or apartment to see if there’s anything you need to know about moving in
  • Arranging a storage unit if necessary
  • Shopping around for home furnishings and hiring movers if you’re moving somewhere off campus that requires furniture

7. Make sure your medical needs are covered

  • Figure out health insurance. If you’re considered a dependent of your parents and they have health insurance, chances are you can stay on their plan until you turn 26. If not, you can:
    • See if your college offers campus health insurance: Lots of colleges offer campus health plans that usually cost around $2,000 to $4,000 per academic year.
    • Purchase a health plan through College students can purchase an individual health plan through the Affordable Care Act marketplace. Prices vary depending on the policy and insurer, but some students may be eligible for subsidized coverage that reduces their premium.
  • Make medical appointments before you leave for college. That can include everything from an annual physical to a dental cleaning.
  • Organize your prescriptions. If you take prescription medications, figure out how you can transfer them to a pharmacy on or near campus.
  • Make accommodations if you have allergies, a special diet, or other health considerations. Contact your campus cafeteria and housing office to arrange a management plan if needed.
  • Familiarize yourself with medical resources. This includes your campus medical center and nearest hospital.
  • Think about designating a medical power of attorney. If you’re a legal adult, your parents may not be able to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you experience a medical emergency and can’t make those decisions for yourself. A medical power of attorney would allow them to step in if they ever needed to.

The summer before college will probably be a busy time, but thinking ahead can set the stage for a smooth transition into the fall semester. is an official website of the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and is not affiliated with Discover® Student Loans.

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