With 2020 fast approaching, if you’re heading off to college or university next September, there’s no better time to start making your preparations. For many people, college means moving to a new state, experiencing a taste of true freedom, and leaving their comfort zones behind with their family and old school friends. It’s certainly a scary time, but there’s plenty to be excited about, too.

The best way to make the transition into college a smooth as possible is to make sure you have everything sorted before you actually get there. Obviously, some things will require handling on your arrival, but you’d be surprised at just how much you can prepare in advance before you even leave your hometown.

If you’re heading off to college in 2020, take a look at this handy five-tip essential checklist for getting ready for your move:

1.       Apply for financial aid

College is an impossible financial burden for the majority of people, which is why financial aid like federal student loans exist. If you’re serious about going to college, you’ll most likely need some help to get you through, and federal student loans are the most popular option. Take a look at this Beginner’s Guide to Federal Student Loans for 2019 if you’re a complete newcomer to federal loans.

2.       Find a scholarship

One appealing alternative to federal loans are scholarships, which are essentially a means of financial support you can be awarded to help you study at your preferred university. You have to meet fairly specific criteria to be offered a scholarship, so they might not be an option for everyone. Because a scholarship is a gift, you don’t ever need to pay it back.

3.       Start saving

You might be covered by your federal student loan, but that doesn’t often stretch so far as to give you the lifestyle in college you might really want. It’s a good idea to get a part time job while you’re still at school or if you sell study notes, providing you’re not over your head with schoolwork, to help you earn some extra cash that you can put aside for future use.

4.       Meet your new friends

Don’t wait until you’re actually at college to start meeting friends. You’ll feel a lot better if you’re familiar with a few names and faces before you arrive, even if you don’t end up being too pally with those people in the long run. Check out your college’s social media groups and other relevant online resources for contacting your roommates and course mates before September rolls around.

5.       Make a practical packing list

It might seem like you couldn’t live without the entire contents of your bedroom right now, but trust me, you can. It’s fine to take one or two personal keepsakes to college with you, but try to pack as practically as possible. Make a checklist of the essentials, including things like bedding, kitchenware and cleaning tools, and start buying what you need as soon as the summer season begins.

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