Summer Melt Series: Tips for Staying Organized Before Starting College
by Naomi Lansing
For the final piece in our blog series about preventing summer melt, we interviewed CAP College Coach Naomi Lansing, who is an organizational guru. In the interview, Ms. Lansing shares advice to help students and parents stay organized during the summer before the first year of college.
What are the biggest organizational challenges incoming freshmen face during the summer?
The first big challenge is all staying on top of the tasks related to college admissions and enrollment. These tasks include managing document submission deadlines, planning to attend orientation, receiving housing assignments, remembering to read emails from administrators, and even communicating with roommates to determine who brings what to furnish their dorm room.
The second big organizational challenge is a mindset one. The transition from high school to college is especially jarring in terms of the shift in accountability. As a high school student, teachers took on the responsibility of planning days and managing time, breaking assignments down, giving reminders, and helping students stay on track. In college, students must do all of this for themselves, all while managing newfound freedom and adjusting to a new environment.
What are some organization techniques and tools incoming freshmen can use to stay organized during the summer?
- While in high school, planners are often provided and assist students in managing their responsibilities. This habit tends to fall away the summer before college and that’s a problem! Utilize a planner or even just a printed calendar on the refrigerator to track key dates and deadlines. Organize your task lists by priority to help know what needs to be tackled first. Putting in place an organizational system during the summer creates good habits you can continue into freshman year.
- If paper planners and lists aren’t practical or natural for you, use the tools you already love: set phone reminders to stay on top of things or even just remind you to review your task list.
- If you’re a CAP student, utilize coaching sessions to plan and check in on what’s been taken care of and what still needs to be tackled.
How can counselors and parents support incoming freshmen in staying organized over the summer?
- Encourage your student to take ownership of their email inbox—read each message and deal with tasks as early as possible to prevent problems later in the summer. Unopened emails can lead to major barriers to enrollment at worst, and a stressful start at best.
- Help your student see the value in the resources available at their college. High schools push out resources to students or build them into their school days—this is not the case in college. Students must be their own advocates and find what they need.
- If your student is a Wave-Maker, encourage them to talk with their college coach about finding the resources they need. CAP’s YouTube channel, workshop series, and resources in the portal are also there to help Wave-Makers in achieving academic, personal, and professional success.
How can organization help a student reach his or her college goals?
Students who use planners tend to be the most organized, which leads to maximizing their time and getting to do all the things they want—whether it’s landing their ideal internship, saving up for a fun Spring Break trip with friends, having a big graduation party to celebrate, or just getting back time to themselves for Netflix and sleeping in.