April 23, 2019
Saving with a 529 plan is one of the best ways to prepare for college. But tuition is just one part of being ready to make the transition from high school to higher education.
my529 reached out to educators, high school counselors and college professors and asked what advice they have for prospective college students beyond saving for the costs.
Here are 10 ideas to consider:
1. Manage your money. If possible, open checking and savings accounts at a bank or credit union with branches in your hometown and near campus, so you and your parents can have access. Practice creating a budget and following it.
2. Manage your time. College takes more effort than high school, and you’re going to be on your own. Set a schedule to figure out how to balance classes, studying, work, athletics, extracurricular activities, and sleep.
3. Practice communication and self-advocacy skills. Learn professors’ office hours so you know when you can meet with them. It’s easy to ask questions in small high school classes, but you need to be able to advocate for yourself in a larger college setting.
4. Practice problem-solving skills. Work on balancing jobs and classes, or resolving potential conflicts with roommates.
5. Improve active listening skills. In high school, teachers will catch students up if they aren’t paying attention, but you can’t expect the same courtesy in college.
6. Map out a plan. Consult with an academic advisor before you register for classes to create a realistic course load. You will spend more time working and studying independently than you do in an actual classroom. Learn to balance the social, emotional and scholastic.
7. Learn about the support system. If you do feel overwhelmed at school and need to talk to someone, know that free counseling is usually available for academic concerns and mental health issues.
8. Get the lay of the land. Spend time on campus more than once before you start school to be sure it’s a good fit. Know where your classes are located. Attend freshman orientation, and become familiar with what’s available on the student services website.
9. Be a savvy shopper. Don’t buy all the books listed on the syllabus before your first class—go to class first to determine which books you’ll need. You can also rent books, buy used books at the campus bookstore or online, or check them out from course reserves at the library.
10. Rethink taking a car. Cars can be costly to maintain, and expensive to park. Consider taking public transit or campus shuttles, biking or walking.
About the author
my529 is Utah’s official nonprofit 529 educational savings plan. To learn more, visit my529.org, call toll-free at 800.418.2551, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.