The To Do Checklist

If you're here for the best college freshman summer checklist and their parents, you are in the right place...

While the summer before college shouldn’t be a drag filled with tasks and appointments, taking care of business in the summer goes a long way toward setting up your child (and you!) for a great freshman year.

Pencil these in over the course of summer...


Make sure your freshman is registered to vote and will get an absentee ballot.

Go here to learn about registering to vote.


You don’t want to rush the summer but it doesn’t hurt to figure out asap when move-in day is and make sure you have made arrangements (taking time off from work, coordinating siblings’ attendance....).


Picking a roomie (or roomies) is much easier than when we were in college. Freshmen may know who they are rooming with before they even graduate high school thanks to Facebook and other groups for admitted freshman.

Your freshman should keep in touch with new roomies over the summer, at a minimum to coordinate who is bringing what.


If you are not able to attend orientation (or even if you are), try to tour campus before school starts. The whirlwind of college visits isn’t the same as purposefully walking through the campus when you know you are going to be there soon.


On social media in general, your freshman is likely all over this but the summer would be a good time to do a review of his or her social media presence.

New friends, roomies and classmates will immediately hit social media to learn (stalk) about the new people they are coming into contact with.

Take care of financial items - Parents

Parents, this means pay tuition and housing. One thing I was not expecting was the lack of access to educational information for parents.

Colleges are required by educational privacy laws to keep student information (even tuition bills!) private even from parents. Your freshman will likely have to grant you access through the university’s website. I was expecting to get notices that payments were due and did not, creating a pain in the a** late fee situation. After I got everything set up through my daughter, that was not a repeat problem.

This is a college freshman summer checklist must do item!

Take care of financial items - students

The summer is the ideal time to get your freshman’s finances set up in general.

If she does not already have an ATM card, make sure that is taken care of before leaving. If a credit card for emergencies (or pizza....) is something you want your child to have, take care of that as well.

Does your child know the basics of managing a bank account? If not, now is the time.


Continue your research by spending some time on the college website. There is so much information available and while neither you or your freshman want to stress out about knowing everything ahead of time, it can ease those first week nerves having the low-down before you go.

getting around

Is your freshman’s campus walkable? Is it so large that public transportation or other means of getting around will be needed? Summer is a great time for your freshman to at least familiarize himself with the basics so he isn't panicking the first time he has an early class “all the way across campus.”

get in the game

Is your freshman a sports fan? Make sure they sign up for football tickets early to ensure they get seats. Even if your child is not a sports fan, encourage him or her to get tickets. There is nothing like a crisp fall Saturday afternoon with your new friends at your new campus!

Even non football fans can't help but have fun at a classic Saturday college game. Check out schedules here.

And it's not just about football...the bands are awesome, especially "the best damn band in the land"--the Ohio State University Marching Band.

pack early, pack often

Hopefully you have found the giant packing list on Summer Before College helpful. While I do not advocate obsessing over early packing, I can absolutely promise the chore of shopping and packing is much more pleasant when done in manageable chunks over the summer. (I also do my holiday shopping early so take that for what it is worth).

Here is that giant packing list!

take care of business

Knock out those dental cleanings, eye appointments and physicals during the summer. It’s so tough to organize medical appointments during your freshman’s brief visits home. Better to go into the school year fully prepared and with all prescriptions (including those for contact lens refills--those are always a bear) set up and ready to go.

Life skills

If your freshman does not know how to do laundry, balance a checkbook, make a medical appointment or the like, now is the time to learn.

the talk

Talk with your freshman about financial expectations. Will you provide spending money during the school year? If so, how much? Will your child be expected to cover certain expenses? Talk through these issues before you get a panicky call about an overdrawn bank account.

the chow hall

Research the campus dining options to make the best choice in selecting a meal plan. This is another area where being part of an online parent or incoming freshman community is super helpful. The dining plan that my daughter thought would be ideal (all you can eat at three traditional cafeteria locations) ended up being too limiting so she made a change early on.

get working

Will your freshman be working on campus? Summer is the time to research and apply for positions. Having a job lined up will take one more thing off of your child’s very busy plate after move-in.

Link in

My freshman was not on LinkedIn when she left for college but I encouraged her to do so early on. A life lesson I want my kids to know is that connections matter. A professional LinkedIn account is a great way to start connecting with professors, teaching assistants and others. By the end of those four years, your child will have a thriving professional network.

Suggest your child visit LinkedIn and get set up this summer.

GET Social

Sign up asap for social media groups that can be helpful during the summer leading up to move-in day. Most colleges have both parent and student groups on Facebook. The Ohio State University parents group was a godsend for our family.

get oriented

Register for freshman orientation and attend. Encourage your child to attend as many of the events as possible. Same goes for you, Mom and Dad. If there are parent orientation activities available, partake.

a new local drugstore

Find out the closest pharmacy to campus and set up prescriptions as needed (or if possible, do mail order).