We hope you have been enjoying your last summer before your freshman year starts! Soon, you’ll be packing up your belongings and making the road trip to Ames to move into your dorm. Meeting your new roommate and trying to fit everything into a room about the size of a shoebox will be a new experience for sure, and yes, your mom probably will cry. Make sure to tell her not to worry because you got this college thing figured out! (All thanks to reading this blog post too, of course.)
1. Finalize your financial aid
Your first year usually involves the most work when it comes to financial aid. You’re signing for your loans for all four years, and authorizing your aid. It’s important to follow our financial aid checklist on our website to make sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. Trust us, you won’t want to get notifications from our billing office end of August saying that your Ubill is still unpaid… In the meantime, check your UBill on A+ and look at your financial aid award. Do you have enough aid to cover your bill? If things don’t add up, let us know and we can help create a financial plan and make sure you know your options.
2. Find a part time job
If you have work study on your financial aid award -put it to good use! Most students work anywhere from 10-15 hours a week and the employers on campus are more than willing to work around your class schedule. This is a great way to make money, build your resume, and meet new friends! Work study is a need-based program that allows you to work on campus, and the employer doesn’t have to pay 100% of your wages (work study picks up the rest). However, not all campus jobs require students to be work study eligible. Check out our student job board on A+ for available positions. There is something for everyone!
3. Prepare for a whole new world of time management
In high school, juggling your grades, sports & extra curricular activities was probably a breeze. College is a little different. Instead of being in class all day, you may have breaks in your class schedule, and you may not be involved in as many activities beginning as a freshman. You also won’t have someone to wake you up, make you breakfast, and make sure you get to class on time. Set yourself up for success your first year in college by getting organized with a planner or calendar, (maybe an alarm clock) and find a system that works for you. This is your investment (and a costly one, at that) so manage it well. Our Academic Success Center is great at helping students manage their time better with offering many resources, such as tutoring and supplemental instruction for your classes. Give them a shout if you need it!
4. Embrace coupons and use your meal plan
Scoring deals is a great way to save money, especially when you’re on a limited budget. You’ll want to attend WelcomeFest, which is Wed. August 22nd from 5:30 – 8:30PM in the Great Hall of the MU. There are a TON of freebies and coupon books for the taking and you’ll get to experience Ames local businesses, community organizations and ISU departments. Also, if you’re living in the dorms, you’re required to have a meal plan. We don’t make the rules, we just enforce them. So the bottom line is, make sure you’re using your meals! The dining plans cost an average of $4,000 a year, and the meals expire at the end of each semester if you don’t use them (aka; money down the drain). For more information of meal plan usage and deadlines, check out ISU Dining’s website.
5. Get ready to start applying for scholarships soon, and filing your FASFA
You won’t even be finished with semester #1 when you’ll start prepping for next year. Many scholarships will open up this fall and are due Feb. 1st, generally. There are applications you’ll complete for scholarships offered from your college, and through our financial aid office. Don’t forget to file the 2019-20 FAFSA by Dec. 1st, too. Now would be a good time to put these dates in your calendar (hint, hint!)
6. Find one club to get involved with
There are over 850 student organizations at ISU, and that number continues to grow. If you have an interest or hobby that you’re passionate for, chance are -we have it! Is underwater basket weaving your thing, but not seeing it on the list? You can even create your own club! This is a great way to meet new people who share your interests, have fun outside of studying, and build that resume. All clubs and student organizations are mandated through our Student Activities Center, or SAC, where you’ll also have access to lots of cheap student events, leadership opportunities, and fun hands on workshops.
It’s okay if you haven’t planned out every little detail before your arrival on campus, we just want you to be prepared! Hopefully these tips will help Iowa State feel more like your new home. We look forward to welcoming you to the Cyclone family very soon!