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If you’re a soon-to-be college freshman, you are likely thinking about what to pack up & take with you to college.

In addition to your toothbrush and favorite teddy bear, one thing you shouldn’t forget to take with you to college is your goals. Short-term and long-term goals will be important as the next year unfolds, to keep you on track and to keep you making progress. Whether you plan to attend a college in-person or virtually, close to home or far away, here are a few thoughts as you embark on your college journey.Dad helping daughter move into college dorm room.

Bring that hand sanitizer

COVID-19 has been such a game-changer. Just like a strong supply of sanitizer clears away the old germs and leaves your hands clean and fresh, you too are starting a clean and fresh new chapter of your life. Get ready to meet a bunch of other incoming freshmen just like yourself. Whether they live on the same dormitory floor as you, are your new classmates, or join the same student clubs as you, remember that everyone is starting with a clean slate! In addition to friends, think about the new professors, teachers, and employers you will get to know.

SET A GOAL: Get to know at least one new person in each of your classes, and introduce yourself to your professor. This will help you as the semester unfolds and the coursework gets heavier, should you not understand an assignment or need to study for future tests.

Use a planner

Time management will be crucial during college. Instead of being stuck at your high school from 8:00 to 1:00 p.m., your schedule now has much more flexibility. With more flexibility comes more opportunities to join student clubs, play intramural sports, and of course, study! Generally, college coursework requires more study hours and reading than high school coursework. Keep yourself disciplined and on-time with the use of a planner, either a physical paper one or a digital app. The important thing is to create a weekly schedule that includes time for that which you find most important: academics, physical fitness, work, social time, etc.

SET A GOAL: Plan to join a student club that has to do with your major, and a different club of something that you find fun. Not only does this help you get connected with your fellow students, but this will also help you find some balance for your well-being.

Invest in a good mirror

Yes, you will need a good mirror in your room, to make sure your shirt isn’t wrinkled or the mustard stain on your jeans isn’t too overly visible. More importantly, look at the mirror every now and then to self-reflect: are you doing your best in your classes? Are you feeling confident about the major you’ve selected? How are your study habits? How can you challenge yourself, such as applying for an internship or applying for a study abroad experience? And yes, double-check to make sure you don’t have any broccoli in your teeth.

SET A GOAL: At least twice a month, do some self-reflecting to make sure things are going smoothly for you academically, socially, physically, and emotionally. Seek out mental health resources on campus if you want to talk with someone, they’re always happy to hear you out.     

Don’t forget your water bottle

Hydration is important, as is physical activity. Not just to combat those infamous freshmen 15, but physical activity helps the mental health side of your well-being. Whether you work out at the campus gym, or join an intramural sport, or simply go for an evening walk, keep yourself in a positive & productive physical state.

SET A GOAL: Allocate at least 30 minutes of each day to doing a physical activity. Things may get tough around mid-terms and finals week, so establishing this habit now will keep you on track when your classes start feeling heavy.

Pack a phone charger

I know we’re all at the mercy of how much battery power our cellphones have but here’s my point: don’t forget to check in periodically with your parents, family, & your friends from high school. Let them know how you’re doing, and listen to how they’re doing. Even though you’re currently embarking on your collegiate adventure, it’s always important to check in with those you cherish. Whether it’s an actual phone call, or maybe some quick social media messages, reaching out to those close to you will help recharge your spirit.

SET A GOAL: Prioritize making new friendships during those first few weeks of college, and then check in with your friends from high school to make sure they’re all doing well. You have a wealth of communications resources on your smartphone; make sure you use them productively to check in with your family and loved ones.