NSHSS Student Council
University of Arizona
Here it is, the fall, your first time away at college. At the beginning of summer, it looked so far away – you thought it would never get here, but now it’s almost arrived. And in a matter of days, you’re going to be packed up and heading hundreds or thousands of miles to your new home away from home for the next several months, because that college you settled on, the one with the killer campus or the top-ranked team or the world-class botany program, the one that clicked just right, is out-of-state.
It can be easy to get nervous when staring down the prospect of moving much further than the average student for this step in your academic career, but never fear. From an Ohioan studying in southern Arizona, here are some tips for moving and living out-of-state:
1. Do Research
Before you go, take a few hours to read up on the location of your college – not just the school itself (you’ve done plenty of that already), but the area. Learn the feel and the layout of where you’ll be living for the coming semesters.
Is it a big city or a college town? Is your school isolated, or right in the middle of everything? If you’re living off-campus, how long will it take approximately to get to school every day?
What is the weather like? Read: Will you need to bring a wardrobe of tank tops or winter coats? Check the monthly highs and lows online.
Where are the grocery stores, movie theaters, and libraries around town, and how can you get there? Download a map and information on public transit from the city or university.
2. Pack Smart
This one’s important for any college move, really (dorm rooms can get a bit cramped!) but especially so for those of us with a longer trip ahead. Before you go, print or make lists of things you anticipate you’ll need at your new home. Lists are your friend. Many colleges will provide these from their Housing departments. Once you have a rough idea of what you’ll need, sort out what you’re bringing from home, and if there’s anything you have to buy (there will be), do your shopping in the area of your new college rather than in your hometown to save space and moving time. I also like to save space with vacuum bags and use services like Amazon Prime (which offers a student discount) that will ship items right to your residence. If you’ll be flying, weigh your suitcases before you head to the airport. Bring what you need, but be efficient; don’t over-pack.
3. Get Involved
When attending out-of-state, you’re going to be the new kid at school. The majority of students choose a college in their home state. Navigating a new, unfamiliar area without the benefit of having a group of people who all came from your high school or hometown can make it difficult to connect and find friends right away. That’s why it’s especially important to get involved early in social groups in college. Without neglecting your studies, try to explore the community. Talk to your roommates and hall-mates, join some clubs or sports, and attend school events. Most colleges will have online resources, club fairs, and news boards to help you find these activities. They might seem boring at first, but you’ll soon find that they make it a whole lot easier to find friends so far away. And if you go home for the summers, don’t forget to keep in touch!
4. Call Home
Your family’s going to miss you, and they’ll probably worry that much more because you’re more than just a short commute away. Calling home every once in a while can help both you and your family adjust. Keep track of any time differences, though!
5. Stay Organized
Once classes start, you’re going to need to stay on top of homework, studies, clubs, courses, outings, jobs, social events, and sleep on a daily basis, so staying organized is a must. It’s even more important if you’re heading out-of-state, even before you arrive.
When moving, schedule things well. Make a game plan, and don’t wait until the last minute to pack. If you’re living on campus, double check your school’s website to see if you have a scheduled move-in time. If you do, make sure that your trip and any van or other moving supply rentals are aligned with that. Odds are it’s going to be busy and hectic those first few hours, and the more organized you are the easier it will be, and the sooner you can settle in and meet your new neighbors.
Another important part of staying organized is managing a budget. The cost of living varies by state (you’ll want to look this up to see how it compares to your home state) but in general, items like food, supplies, and necessities will cost more on a college campus than at a normal supermarket. Decide if you’ll want a meal plan, and set weekly and monthly budget goals for yourself to follow.
Finally, plan your travel ahead whenever possible. If you’re coming home for the holidays, for example, buying any plane/shuttle/bus/train etc. tickets well ahead of time can save money and stress during busy travel days. Many schools close dorms for breaks, so make sure you look up your school’s policy before the end of the semester rolls around.