Freshman Year Prep

Set yourself up for success freshman year with tips on packing for college, meeting new classmates, and what to expect from orientation.

Parents talking with other parents at their child's college orientation

6 Reasons Parents Should Attend College Orientation

Parent college orientation sessions are a great way to dispel some of your worries and help you get the important information you need about your student's transition to college.

Parent kissing child on the cheek during high school graduation

The Mixed Emotions of High School Graduation

Distance learning online education

5 Tips to Ace Your Online Classes

Parent helping their second child with an online college application

This Mom Revamps Approach to Helping Her Second Kid with College

High school students volunteering in the garden to get hands on experience during spring break

5 Things to Do During Spring Break to Prepare for College

Off to College? 8 College Moving Tips Parents Recommend

Students sitting outside on the grass in a circle during college orientation

7 Freshman Orientation Must-Do’s

Five high school friends sitting in a stairway discussing college plans and how to meet new friends

How to Go to College With Your High School Friends and Still Meet New People

High school senior looking exhausted laying on their arm in a computer lab

Quiz: Do You Have Senioritis Symptoms?

Student Learning With Good Cup Of Tea

Best Study Tips from Successful College Students

Father helping daughter moving to college dormitory

What Parents Need to Do for a Smooth Freshman Move-in Day

Three college students in a dorm room studying for class, including one working on a laptop and two writing in notebooks

8 Things I Wish I Packed for My Freshman Year

Smiling man talking to university friend while doing laundry

How to Prepare If College Is Your First Time Away From Home

Family members gathered outside celebrating at a high school graduation party

15 Unique Graduation Gift Ideas for High School Graduates

Student wearing headphones and using laptop to open a student checking account

What to Know About Banks and Checking Accounts for College Students

Students in a classroom taking a final exam

How to Study for Your Final Exams Like a College Student

Two students in a library looking at a laptop and laughing together

8 Things I Wish I Knew Before College

Five college freshmen listening to a presenter during their college orientation

What to Do If You Don't Like Your Freshman Orientation

Two new college roommates taking a selfie outside with their belongings ready to move into campus housing

6 Questions to Ask Your Roommate Before You Move In

Graduation Money Tips: Spend or Save?

Parent and child doing dishes while discussing the final semester of high school

How to Make the Most of the Final Semester with Your Teen

College freshmen in a dorm room getting to know each other

What It’s Like to Live With a Total Stranger Freshman Year

Young man with racing cycle sitting on a bench using laptop

I Skipped My Freshman Orientation

Parents in their home office making a college prep checklist for their child

Senior Year Checklist for Parents: Help Your Child Prepare

College student texting and moving into college dorm

7 College Packing Tips for Your Freshman Move

Student holding books while standing outside their parent’s car

How to Deal with Empty Nest Syndrome

Student using a packing tape dispenser to seal a cardboard box

5 Freshman Move Challenges I Totally Didn’t Expect

Frequently Asked Questions

All US colleges accept both the ACT and the SAT exams. Taking a practice test of both can help you decide which one may be the best one for you. That said, more and more colleges are making standardized testing optional. Talk with your guidance counselor about your college list and come up with a testing strategy together.


SAT® is a trademark registered by the College Board, which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse, this site.


ACT® is a trademark registered by ACT, Inc., which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse this site.

Early action and early decision are college application methods in which you get an acceptance decision before standard admissions decisions are sent out in the spring. In general, early decision is binding: You have agreed to attend the college, unless there is a financial reason you’re unable to do so. Early action is not binding: You know your acceptance status but do not have to commit until spring.

Deciding how many colleges to apply to is a personal decision. A rule of thumb is anywhere between 5 and 8, but your guidance counselor can help you come up with a target number that’s right for you. In general, it can be a good idea to include at least one safety school (a school you’re likely to get into) and a “reach” school (a competitive school that has a low acceptance rate, or a school whose admissions requirements may be at or above your high school résumé). Remember, there are a lot of materials to submit when applying to college, so having too many on your list may feel overwhelming.

college essay is a chance for the admissions officer to see a side of you that they may not see on your transcripts and résumé. It can be about anything important to you, and the moment you write about doesn’t have to be groundbreaking. Even writing about a summer job can be a great topic. Above all, the essay should be well-written, insightful, and express your true personality.

Rolling admission means colleges review applications as they are submitted. That means that you may receive your decision from them before you hear from other colleges. Rolling admissions applications still typically have a deadline for the last day materials are due.

Communicating with an admissions officer can be beneficial. Not only can they answer any questions you might have about their school, but communicating with them can express your interest in the college, which can reflect positively in your admissions folder. Come up with questions you are curious about before a tour or a college fair. Asking about programs, study abroad opportunities, and campus life are all great places to start.