11 Steps to Take After College Decision Day

After choosing a college, your work isn't done yet. Next, take these 11 steps to prepare for your first day on campus.

portrait of Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
by Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.

Updated March 2, 2022

Edited by Hannah Muniz
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11 Steps to Take After College Decision Day


You've sent in your acceptance letter and a deposit. But what comes next after College Decision Day?

It might feel as though you've already done everything — you've submitted applications, filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and compared admission offers. But there's still more to do before your first day of class.

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Ready to start your journey?

After Decision Day, you'll need to prepare for first-year orientation, research housing, and connect with future classmates. It's also a great time to look for scholarships at your school and cross off some required preparing-for-college tasks.

Once you've chosen a college, these 11 steps will prepare you for the first day on campus.

1. Get Ready for First-Year Orientation

Most colleges hold a first-year orientation before school starts. So check your campus events calendar and save the date.

Orientation is a great time to meet other incoming students and learn about campus life. If your school offers multiple sessions, register early to get first dibs on course registration. Prepare any questions in advance, and show up for orientation ready to learn and socialize.

2. Figure Out Your Housing Situation

Do you plan to live on campus in the dorms? Or will you look for off-campus housing? Now that you know where you're going to college, it's a good time to consider your housing situation.

When researching housing options, consider the cost of on-campus housing and the availability of apartments in the area. On larger campuses with multiple dorms, learn how to snag a room in your top choice.

3. Apply for Scholarships

By Decision Day, you've probably submitted the FAFSA (if you haven't, do it now!) and sent in a financial aid application to your college. But you can still apply for school-specific scholarships to help lower your college costs.

Some scholarships are only open to applicants attending particular schools. Now that you know where you'll go to college, check for scholarships available at your school.

4. Connect With Future Classmates

It's never too soon to meet your future classmates. Look for meetup opportunities and social media groups to connect with other first-year students. If you're planning to live in the dorms, you can connect with your roommate via social media.

You can also research mentorship opportunities through your college to connect with current students. That way, when you show up on campus, you'll already have a network of connections.

5. Research Payment Plans

If you're planning to pay some college costs out of pocket, research your payment plan options. Some colleges even let you make payments before the school year starts.

While looking into payment options, you can also add to your college savings. Spring is a great time to line up a summer job to help cover educational expenses.

6. Plan a Campus Visit

Can't wait until fall to visit your new college? Didn't have time to plan a visit before Decision Day? Consider a campus visit after sending in your acceptance letter.

During the visit, pay attention to housing options, clubs and extracurricular activities, and local college hangouts. In a few months, you'll be living on campus — so learn as much as possible now to make the transition easier.

7. Maximize Your College Credits

It typically takes 120 credits to earn a bachelor's degree. But why not earn some credits before college starts? Now's the time to track down records showing your AP scores and learn about other test-for-credit options.

If you really want to jumpstart college, enroll in community college classes over the summer. You can cross off some general education requirements before showing up to campus. Don't forget to contact a transfer counselor at your school to ensure the credits will transfer.

8. Set Up Your College Email Account

You'll get a lot of communications from your new college before the fall term starts, so make sure to set up your college email account.

Once you have your college email address, get in the habit of checking it regularly. You can also start looking for student discounts — lots of entertainment, clothing, and tech companies offer discounts to those with a .edu email address.

9. Get Medical Records Together

You'll need to submit certain medical records before showing up to campus. Many schools require proof of certain vaccinations, and some even require a physical.

Your college should send clear instructions on all required medical forms. Make an appointment with your doctor to take care of any vaccinations before the semester starts.

10. Figure Out Your Class Schedule

By Decision Day, most colleges have posted their fall term course schedule, so start browsing your options.

Depending on the school, first-year students typically take 3-5 classes each term. Try to knock out some general education requirements early, but also set aside time for courses that sound interesting or might lead to a major.

Reach out to an academic advisor to discuss your options. Keep in mind that some colleges have required first-year courses.

11. Spend Time With Friends and Family

Whether you're flying across the country for college or attending a local university, Decision Day marks a milestone in your journey. So set aside time to connect with friends and family before you head off to college.

Your support network back home will help make the college transition easier. And once you're on campus, you'll appreciate the quality time you spent with family and friends before leaving home.


Feature Image: SDI Productions / E+ / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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