Eleven Things to Do Right After You Arrive on Campus (page 2)
There are eleven important things you need to do within the next couple of days to ensure that your college experience gets off to a comfortable and positive start.
Get Your College Photo Identification Card
The college registration process begins with the issuance of your college photo ID card. At most colleges and universities today, given the increased emphasis on security, you need this ID card to get just about anything or anywhere on campus. Because of this, the freshman ID issuance process causes one of the biggest bottlenecks of the opening days of school, and the lines can often be very long.
Review your orientation materials, be sure you bring whatever proof of identification your college requires (often a driver's license or state-issued ID and one other item, such as your Social Security card), and make this your first stop in the morning.
Oh, and remember: this card will follow you around for four years, and you usually don't get to reshoot the picture, . . . so if you're concerned about that, grab a shower before you go.
Introduce Yourself To Your Resident Advisers or Freshman Counselors
Most colleges and universities place several resident advisers (RAs) or freshman counselors in every dormitory. Part older brother or sister, part mediator, part cop during the course of your first year, these experienced hands can be an invaluable source of information and advice during your first days on campus.
Usually you'll have a few to choose from, so meet them all and then find the one you are most comfortable with. Once you've identified that person, ask him or her the Three Questions you below. Remember, what you're looking for at this stage of the game is information: knowledge of where the pitfalls are and how to avoid them; ideas about what worked for others and how to implement those strategies in your own experience.
Question 1: What were the three biggest mistakes you made during your freshman year, how could you have avoided them, and what did you learn from them?
Question 2: What were the three best decisions or choices you made during your freshman year, and why do you consider them good decisions?
Question 3: What are the three most important things you learned during your freshman year?
Get Your Computer, Internet, E-mail, And Telephone Services Established
Two or three days after students start arriving on campus, the people who administer your college's e-mail, Internet, computer, and telephone services and systems are going to be inundated with service calls. A lot of people will need new versions of operating software, new drivers for printers or modems, new Ethernet or wireless cards. Other, less technology-savvy students will be completely lost and in need of significant hand-holding. Lines at your campus computer center can be hours long at the beginning of a new year.
Don't get caught in that nightmare.
As soon as you get to campus—before you unpack, go furniture shopping with your roommates, start partying with your new friends, or do anything else—get wired. Make sure you have the right operating system and all the software and hardware you need to fully integrate yourself into your campus's computer system. Double-check to make sure everything works. If it doesn't, get right on the phone with a technician, before things get out of hand. Doing this will ensure that while others are wasting aggravating hours standing in long lines at the computer center, you can be doing something more useful with your time.
Get The Key To Your Campus Mailbox
If you're one of the lucky ones, your college will deliver your mail directly to your dorm, in which case you can just pick up your mail key from your RA or residence hall postmaster and skip this section.
For the rest of you, though, the next place you'll want to go is to your campus post office—the other madhouse on campus at the beginning of any semester. To save yourself some grief here, best make this trip first thing in the morning too, as soon as possible after the post office opens. And don't forget your driver's license and college ID card.
Choose A Local Bank And Set Up A Local Checking Account
The other places where lines get ridiculously and frustratingly long at the beginning of the school year are at the local banks. Virtually every student will need to set up a local bank account, and as you may already know from experience, that involves another set of tiresome, time-consuming paperwork.
Accordingly, the next order of business is choosing a bank and getting an account set up before everyone else starts doing it.
In our view, there are three principal considerations in choosing the bank you'll use during your college years. First, choose the bank with the most convenient ATM machines. When you're running out to party on Thursday night, you're not going to want to have to cross town to your bank—and why pay $2.00 per transaction when you could be getting cash for free? Second, pick a bank that doesn't require you to maintain a minimum balance in your account. With the intense competition for business on a college campus, you should be able to find a bank that requires no minimum balance, or at least a negligibly small one ($250 or less). Finally, choose a bank that lets you do your banking online.
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