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10 Things You Must Do Before Heading Off To College

Over the coming weeks millions of students will be heading off to college, some for the very first time, while most will be repeating a trek familiar to them. Yet even seasoned college students know that moving to a dorm or off campus housing requires that they plan carefully in order to ensure a smooth move.

1.Secure Transportation

The more stuff you have to cart off to school, the more likely you'll need someone to help you get it there especially if you won't have a car available while at school. Your parents, siblings and friends can help, but if you're setting up an apartment then renting a truck or trailer from U-Haul or similar company means that you must make your reservation NOW or risk missing out on getting what you need later.

2.Free Checking

College students should consider how they will access money while away from home. Opening up a checking account - in many cases free to college students - at a bank that has branches located both in your home town and college location makes this easy. You'll want to get a hold of an ATM card too and have online access to make transfers and to review your statements.

3.Cell Phones

We take cell phone access for granted, but not every provider offers the same level of service. Is your college and surrounding community part of your cell phone carrier's network? If not, you will need to find a new provider, preferably one whose coverage areas cover your home town as well as your college community. Don't forget to bring along the recharger!

4.Health Insurance

Will you be covered under your family's health care plan while away at college? Most plans cover adult children well into their 20s, so make sure that you have your own health insurance card handy before going off to college. Check that your prescriptions are current and that you have access to a local pharmacy who can refill them as needed. Consider using a national chain especially if they have pharmacies in both your home and college towns.

5.Personal Computer

Do you have a laptop? If not, you'll need to shop for one now. When bringing your laptop to college, you'll want to make sure that you include a carrying case, rechargeable cable, surge protector, memory stick and you'll want to make certain that your virus protection is up-to-date. Consider bringing along a security cable and backup battery too.

6.Supplies, Books

You'll want to save your money by not making too many visits to the college bookstore whose prices are, well, out of this world. Right now, all of the big box retailers have launched their back to school sales, offering plenty of supplies that college students want at seasonally low prices. Visit Chegg.com and BookRenter.com now to see what textbooks you can rent for the upcoming semester. Once classes start you can order your books online for a fraction of the cost of buying them.

7.Got Linens?

In addition to bringing along all of your regular clothing (pack for summer, fall and winter) you'll want to make sure that you bring along plenty of linens including towels, wash clothes, bedding, clothes hangar, clothing basket, detergent, quarters for the washer/dryer, etc.

8.Food Plan

You won't live on pizza and beer all semester long, but you might not frequent the college cafeteria either. Exactly how and where will you be eating? Your dorm may come with its own small refrigerator but will it give you enough room to store your food and your roommate's food too? Consider bringing along your own compact fridge and microwave; don't forget utensils, containers, cups and mugs, can opener and if you're a coffee drinker, a coffee maker with filters and plenty of coffee to get you started. Sugar and cream too!

9.Personal Effects

Some of the things you use for personal grooming can be purchased upon arrival, but there may be a number of items you'll want to bring with you. That also means that if you've been sharing a hair dryer with your kid sister, you'll need a new one for school.

10.Payment Made?

Plenty of students preparing to head off to college this year are finding that their educational funding must still be finalized. If you're still falling short of money, explore options such as tuition payment deferments, Parent PLUS loans or home equity loans and lines of credit, as soon as possible. Thanks to a challenging economy, a lot of families will be scrambling this August to find more money.

The earlier you complete your plans the less stress you'll have as you head off to college. Of course if you forget something you can ask your family to ship these items to you via the post office, FEDEX or UPS, but with smart planning you can avoid the cost of using a package shipment company.

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