Q: My eldest son is starting college this fall. What can we do to make sure he is prepared for his freshman year?
A: Starting college will be an exciting journey for you and your son. As the fall semester approaches, there are a few things you and he should do to make sure he is ready to start classes and move to campus.
First, make sure his admissions and class registration are in order. If your student already has applied and been accepted, many universities create a student email account and either email or mail out a list of steps to complete to make sure everything is in order before the student begins attending classes in the fall.
A few things incoming freshmen may need to send in before starting classes are final transcripts after graduation, information about dual credit courses taken, Texas Success Initiative Assessment scores, scores from other standardized tests and proof of bacterial meningitis vaccination if the student is younger than 22.
At UHV, we have incoming freshmen work with a Student Success coach to register for their classes, and other universities may have similar systems. Check with the university to find out what the registration procedures are and make sure your student is registered for classes.
Another important step is applying for and accepting financial aid. The first step is sending in a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Once that application is submitted, the college can begin helping your student identify how much aid he is qualified to receive. Financial aid is distributed in the form of grants, scholarships, work-study and loans. Many grants and scholarships are given out on a first-come, first-served basis, so it’s best to apply as soon as possible. It is important to notify the university’s financial aid office about which awards your student plans to accept. If you do not receive enough financial aid to cover your account balance, contact your school’s financial aid office. They can help you explore your options.
Many universities also require students to attend a new student orientation event during the summer. During these events, students can learn about the history of their university, available services and assistance, how to navigate campus, the location of important offices and more. They also will have the opportunity to meet future classmates. UHV has orientations scheduled for July 12-13 and Aug. 1-2.
If your student plans to live on campus, he also needs to apply for housing and a meal plan for dining facilities on campus. Many universities, including UHV, require freshmen to live in a residence hall and sign up for a meal plan. UHV freshmen living on campus benefit from the Gold Meal Plan that provides 19 meals a week in Jaguar Dining Hall. Students living with a parent or guardian within a 50-mile radius of campus are exempt from the housing requirement if they want to continue living at home.
Preparing for college is exciting, but there’s a lot to get done before your student attends his first classes. If you are proactive and work closely with the university, he will be ready to take the first step in earning his degree.