Preparing For the First Semester of College

High school seniors have been looking forward to this for 13 years — the summer after graduation. But three months can go fast; graduates who are going to college this fall will need to set some time aside this summer to ensure they’ll begin their first semester as planned. Once their admission applications have been received at their school(s) of choice, they’ll need to continue their college planning. Here are some suggestions for making sure they’re ready:

  • Submit your 2023-24 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and complete the required follow-up tasks. If you’re unsure of what to do after you’ve submitted your FAFSA, the financial aid office at your chosen school can help. To start a FAFSA, check on the status of your FAFSA or review your Student Aid Report (SAR), visit
  • Build your financial aid plan. With the Financial Aid Wizard at, you can find out how much financial aid you may receive and what you may have to pay out of pocket. Be sure to visit for a helpful Financial Aid Worksheet, and while you’re there, find a publication called Are You Looking for Money? that focuses on the different types of federal and state aid.  Remember, isn’t just for submitting your FAFSA. They have a lot more information about financial aid there! But ultimately, your school’s financial aid office is always your greatest resource.
  • Let other schools know your status. If you’ve made your choice, let other colleges where you were accepted know that you’re declining their offers of admission and financial aid, especially if they’ve offered you a scholarship.
  • Research scholarships. Two helpful websites are and Don’t stop applying for scholarships while you’re in college. You’ll need money for each year you’re in school so continue to look for scholarships 24/7!
  • Decline any financial aid you don’t need. Be very careful when considering student loans. Borrowing too much can affect your finances for years to come. Try to only borrow what you actually need to cover your educational expenses.
  • Submit your housing application by the required deadline. Waiting too long to apply for on-campus housing can put you in a tight spot and possibly cost you more.
  • Shop for dorm room items throughout the summer. It’s a lot easier on your wallet if you don’t try to buy everything all at once. Be sure to check the school’s list of items you should not have in your dorm room first.

Oh, and one more thing: be sure to download UCanGo2’s College Freshman Checklist to help you get the most out of your freshman year!