Educators: College Checklist

College Checklists

First year college students may need extra support as they transition from high school; encourage them to use academic and other support services at their college.

Download PDF checklists for students, families & educators



  • Do well in school.

    Encourage students to do their best to earn good grades—they will matter in the future and it may impact their financial aid.
          Reiterate the importance of going to class.
          Advise students to participate in classes and keep up with assignments.
          Remind students that they can get help from professors, advisors or classmates. Ask them to find a study partner or group, go to office hours and use the tutoring services available on campus.
          Ask questions about their classes, professors, homework and midterms.
          Celebrate academic achievements—highlight students who make it on the dean's list or receive awards.
          The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires that all academic information go directly to the student. Suggest students share their academic progress with their parents or guardians.

    Encourage students to get to know their professors.
          Encourage them to go to office hours even if they don't have a specific question—building a relationship may be helpful in the future.

    Encourage reading for pleasure.
          Reading improves your focus, concentration, imagination and knowledge.

    Model good written and oral communication skills.
    Advise students to check school e-mail daily. The college will use this as their main method of communication.
          Reiterate the importance of writing professionally when e-mailing professors or other college staff. No txtspk! Use capital letters, spell words out and write complete sentences.
          Teach students to self-advocate and to be polite and clear about what they need.
  • Challenge yourself.

    Ask students about their academic and personal goals for the year.

    Discuss ways to take on challenges. Help them understand that failure is a learning experience.

    Advise students to take an interesting class unrelated to their major or program.

    Ask them if they are interested in spending a term studying in another country or at another college.
  • Take the right classes.

    Counsel students to talk to an advisor and make sure they are taking the classes needed in order to complete their degree on time.

    If students are planning to transfer colleges, remind them to check that the classes they are taking will transfer as well.

    If students are planning to attend graduate school, including law, business or medical school, remind them to learn what the required classes are for admission. They may not be required for their major, so they will need to make a plan to take additional classes.
  • Get organized.

    Students are in charge of their own time.
          Suggest using a paper or digital planner or calendar to keep track of assignments, deadlines and other commitments.
          Counsel students to study daily a nd u se time between classes wisely.

    Advise students to read the syllabus for each class and make note of when big projects or exams are scheduled.

    Encourage students to keep notes and papers organized with a binder or online system.

    Recommend that students discover where they study best—their room, library, student center, coffee shop, etc.
          Remind students to practice good study habits like turning off unnecessary technology.

    Direct students to create or update their résumé with college activities, jobs and awards.
          The career center at the college can help. This will be useful when applying for jobs and more scholarships.
  • Prepare for and take graduate school admission tests.

    If students are interested in graduate school, medical school, law school or other professional programs, they may need to take an entrance exam before applying.

    Encourage students to use resources on campus to prepare and study.

    Remind students to check deadlines for the specific programs and exam they are interested in.



  • Get involved.

    Counsel students to try something new and practice leadership skills by joining student groups and community activities, volunteering for organizations or causes and getting a part-time job.

    Help students make a plan for summer.
          Consider summer classes, internships or research, special programs or a job.
  • Spend time with good people.

    Encourage students to hang out with friends that share positive goals and interests.
          It can be difficult to make new friends and adjust to a new place; it's normal for students to feel homesick. The best remedy is to get involved on campus—remind students to keep an open mind and join student groups in order to meet a wide range of people.

    Encourage students to join study groups or find a study partner.

    Assist students in being a role model and mentor for younger students.

    Bring students together to form a support system.
          Build relationships by sending encouraging notes as well as useful and fun items from other students.
  • Make good choices.

    Encourage students to take care of themselves.
          Remind students to eat right, exercise regularly and get enough sleep.
          If students get sick, suggest they use their college's health center.
          Refer students to the college's counseling services if they are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, depressed or have other concerns.
          In most cases, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires that student health records remain confidential to the student and providers. Recommend students share health concerns with their parents or guardians.

    Help students understand appropriate, safe behavior online and on their phone.
          Encourage students to set appropriate privacy settings on social media.
          Urge students to only share information with people they know and trust.
          Remind students that information posted can live online forever and to always ask themselves: would I want my grandma/teacher/religious leader to see this?

    Acknowledge the risks of behaviors like drinking, doing drugs, and having sex.
          Advise students to attend workshops or presentations to learn about safe sex, consent and the dangers of binge drinking.
          Refer students to the college's health center to ask questions, get free resources and get help when needed.



  • Discover support services at your college.

    Colleges have many people whose job it is to help you. Urge students to use them!
          Refer to this directory for students who attend Oregon colleges.
  • Explore career and advanced educational options.


    Talk with students about their future goals and plans.
    Ask about the classes they have enjoyed the most and the program, major and career options related to those classes.
          Encourage students to talk to their professors, advisor and career center about jobs related to their major or program.

    Advise students to visit the career center to find volunteer opportunities or internships and get help with resumes, interviews, and the job search. 

     Suggest students attend a career fair.


    Review with students what is most important to them in a college.

    Encourage students to develop a list of colleges and universities that they are interested in and that has their program or major.

    Remind students to research admission requirements and make a list of deadlines for each college including any graduate level entrance exams they will be required to take.

    Suggest students visit their top colleges if possible. They can sign up with the admissions office or graduate school department to take an official tour, go to an information session and potentially sit in on a class.

    Recommend students attend a college fair if there is one in the area.
  • Make a plan for paying for college.

    Advise students to talk to their parents or guardians about managing college costs.
          The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires that all financial information go directly to the student.

    Remind students they must re-apply for FAFSA or ORSAA every year.
          The FAFSA opens October 1.
          The Student Aid Report is a summary of what students filled out on the FAFSA—remind them to make sure that all of the information is correct and make any changes if necessary by March 15.

    Encourage students to apply for scholarships.
          Remind students to use a scholarship search engine, check with their college financial aid office and keep an eye on department newsletters or bulletin boards for opportunities.
          Oregon students should review eligibility requirements for scholarships and submit an OSAC Scholarship Application by March 1 each year.

    Remind students to keep track of their money.
    Advise students to make a budget and stick to it.
          Discuss using credit cards responsibly.

    Help students understand student loans.
          Students may be offered larger loans than they need to pay tuition, room & board and other educational costs. Caution them to accept only the amount of loans they really need. Remember—loans must be paid back!
          Counsel students to attend workshops about financial literacy and student loans.
          Encourage students to make interest rate payments on unsubsidized loans while still in school.
          Remind students to start paying off student loans within 6 months of leaving school. Share information about loan repayment, consolidation or other payment plans if needed.