Students: College Checklist

College Checklists

Congratulations on being a college student! You may find college different from high school in many ways. Use academic and other support services to help you do your best.



  • Do well in school.

    Do your best to earn good grades - they matter for your future and it may impact your financial aid.
          Go to all of your classes and be on time. If you must miss a class, e-mail the professor and get notes from a classmate.
          Come prepared, ask questions and participate in class discussions.
          Take good notes, make outlines, and do research.
          Ask for help from your professors, advisor or classmates. Find a study partner or group, go to office hours and use the tutoring services available on your campus.
          Stay on top of your reading and assignments. You may not be required to turn them in, but they are designed to help you learn the material. You'll be thankful come midterms!
          Discover how you learn best and adopt strategies to support your learning style.
          In high school, your parents or guardians received your report cards. In college, your grades only come to you because of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Talk with your parents or guardians about their expectations about sharing your academic progress.

    Get to know your professors.
          Go to office hours even if you don't have a specific question—building a relationship may help you in the future.

          Reading improves your focus, concentration, imagination and knowledge – in short, it makes you smarter!

    Practice good written and oral communication skills.
    Check your school e-mail daily. The college will use this as their main method of communicating with you.
          Write professionally when e-mailing professors or other college staff. No txtspk! Use capital letters, spell words out and write complete sentences.
          Make a good impression when talking to professors and college staff. Introduce yourself, be polite and be clear about what you need.
  • Challenge yourself.

    Set academic and personal goals for the year.
          Know that any setbacks are opportunities to learn and grow.

    Take a class unrelated to your major or program that interests you.

    Consider spending a term studying in another country or at another college. Visit your school's department for off-campus study to learn more about your options.
  • Take the right classes.

    Talk to your advisor and make sure you're taking the classes you need in order to complete your degree on time.

    If you are planning to transfer colleges, make sure the classes you are taking will transfer as well.

    If you are planning to go to graduate school, including law, business or medical school, learn what the required classes are for admission. They may not be required for your major, so you'll need to make a plan for taking additional classes.
  • Get organized.

    You are in charge of your own time.
          Use a paper or digital planner or calendar to keep track of assignments, deadlines and other commitments.
          In college, you usually spend less time in class and more time studying on your own. Make time in your schedule to study daily.
          Use time between classes wisely.

    Read the syllabus for each class. Make note of when big projects or exams are scheduled.

    Keep notes and papers organized with a binder or online system.

    Determine the place that you study best—your room, library, student center, coffee shop, etc.
          Practice good study habits like turning off unnecessary technology.

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

    If you're interested in graduate school, medical school, law school or other professional programs, you may need to take an entrance exam before applying.

    Use resources on campus to prepare and study.

    Check deadlines for the specific programs and exam you are interested in.




  • Get involved.

    Try something new. Join student groups and community activities.

    Volunteer for an organization or cause you care about.

    Practice your leadership skills in a student group, comunity organization or at a job.

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

    Choose 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. Keep an open mind and get involved in order to meet a wide range of people.

    Join study groups or find a study partner.

    Find a mentor – a professor, advisor, coach, other trusted adult, or older student that you can talk to.
          Share the educator or family checklist with them so they know how to support you.

    Be a role model and mentor for younger students.

    Stay connected with family and friends from home while focusing on new experiences and people on your campus.
  • Make good choices.

    Take care of yourself.
          Eat right, exercise regularly and get enough sleep.
          If you get sick, use your college's health center. If you must miss a class, e-mail the professor and get notes from a classmate.
          Use your college's counseling services if you're feeling anxious, overwhelmed, depressed or have other concerns.
          You and your healthcare providers are the only ones who can see your health records because of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Therefore, you may want to share health concerns with your parents or guardians.

    Be safe online and on your phone.
          Google yourself to see what colleges and employers see.
          Choose appropriate privacy settings on social media.
          Only share information with people you know and trust.
          Always ask yourself: would I want my grandma/teacher/religious leader to see this?
          Remember that whatever you post or share can live online forever.

    Be safe with risky behaviors like drinking, doing drugs, and having sex.
          Attend workshops or presentations to learn about safe sex, consent and the dangers of binge drinking.
          Use your school's health center to ask questions, get free resources and get help when you need it.

    Be kind; treat others with respect.



  • Discover support services at your college.

    Colleges have many people whose job it is to help you. Use them!
  • Explore career and advanced educational options.


    Narrow your career interests.
    Think about the classes you've taken and the ones you've enjoyed the most. Consider the program, major and career options related to those classes.
          Talk to your professors, advisor and career center about jobs related to your major or program. Discuss your interests and goals.

     Visit the career center to find volunteer opportunities, an internship, research or a job shadow to learn more.

    Talk about your future dreams and plans with your family, friends and other adults and set goals.

    Attend a career fair.


    Review what is most important to you in a college.

    Develop a list of colleges and universities that you're interested in and that have your program or major.

    Research admission requirements for each college to make sure you're on track.
          Make a list of deadlines for each college, including any graduate level exams you'll be required to take.

    Get to know the colleges.
          Sign up to receive information from your top colleges.
          If possible, visit your top colleges. Sign up with the admissions office or graduate school department to take an official tour, go to an information session and sit in on a class if possible.
          Explore colleges online with virtual tours or on their websites and social media.
          Attend a college fair if there is one in your area.
  • Make a plan for paying for college.

    Talk with your parents or guardians about managing college costs.
          You’re the only one who can see your tuition bill and financial aid information because of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

    Re-apply for FAFSA or ORSAA every year.
          Work with your parents or guardians to complete is as soon as possible after October 1.
          The Student Aid Report is a summary of what you filled out on the FAFSA—make sure that all of the information is correct and make any changes if necessary by March 15.

    Apply for scholarships.
          You may be eligible for more scholarships now that you're in college. Use a scholarship search engine, check with your college financial aid office and keep an eye on department newsletters or bulletin boards for opportunities.
          Review the scholarships you are eligible for and submit an OSAC Scholarship Application by March 1 each year.

    Keep track of your money.
    Make a budget and stick to it.
          Beware of credit card offers! Use them responsibly.

    Understand your student loans.
          You may be offered larger loans than you need to pay your tuition, room & board and other educational costs. Accept only the amount of loans you really need—remember, you will need to pay them back.
          Attend workshops about managing money and student loans.
          If possible, make interest rate payments on unsubsidized loans while you are still in school.
          Begin to pay off your student loans within 6 months of leaving school. Look into loan repayment, consolidation or other payment plans if you need them.