JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Prep for College Life

The below can be printed and shared with college-bound students to provide further insight into what they can expect from college life.

Going to college is a journey. A journey to furthering your knowledge, starting your career, and understanding yourself. It’s like no other experience you’ll ever have. So, what can you expect? Expect to get out of it what you put into it. College is not only a great resource for learning, it’s also a great place to meet new people, further your interests, play sports, venture into the workforce, and more. College offers so much. So take advantage of as much as you can. It’s the perfect time to try new things.


In addition to getting involved, getting good grades is very important for your success. Grades are also crucial if you’re interested in furthering your education after college, in graduate school, law school, medical school, or any other post-graduate studies.

New-student Orientation

Many colleges host a new-student orientation during the summer, and many have special activities for freshmen the week before classes begin. This is a good opportunity to tour your campus and become familiar with your schedule and the buildings in which you’ll be having class. It’s also a great time to socialize and meet new people without worrying about homework or class.


If you’re going to be living in the dorms/residence halls, you’ll probably also be meeting your roommate at this time. Roommates are usually the luck of the draw. You may get along really well, or you may have to just respect each other’s space. Either way, becoming acquainted with people from different places and with different backgrounds is just one of the many new experiences college will offer.

Residence Halls

For most students, the biggest adjustment once you get to campus is communal living. If you thought it was hard to share a bathroom with your little sister or brother, imagine sharing that space with a dozen of your newest friends. However, with a little bit of preparation, the transition from home to the dorms can be relatively painless. Review the advice below, and always check with your college for additional rules and recommendations.

Sharing a Bathroom

Bring shower shoes (rubber flip-flop sandals), a small shower caddy to carry shampoo and other toiletries from your room to the bathroom (preferably with holes in the bottom for water drainage), a bathrobe, towels, and some type of all-purpose sink & shower cleaner.

Making the Bed

You don’t have to make your bed now that you’re on your own – but before you can rebel, you need the proper linens. Bring your own pillow, blankets and sheets. Many dorms have non-standard mattresses, so call or check your college catalog to see if you’ll need extra-long twin sheets or standard twin sheets.

Keeping Things Clean

Speaking of sheets and blankets, make sure you’re prepared to do your own laundry. Bring hangers, a laundry basket, detergent and plenty of quarters for the machines. You may even want to vacuum occasionally. Most residence halls have vacuums that you can sign out by the hour. Definitely bring an all-purpose cleaner/disinfectant, and some rags—especially when you’re moving into your new room.


Even though you’ll have most of your meals in the cafeteria, an all-night study session can really work up an appetite. Stock up on non-perishable, ready-to-eat items that you can keep in your room. Also, keep a few unbreakable, easy-to-wash cups, plates, utensils and a little dish soap available for “in-room” dining.


Most dorms do not allow students to have microwaves (or other electrical appliances) in their rooms, but many halls do have small kitchenettes with a sink and microwave for shared use. You may be able to bring a small refrigerator, or rent one on campus. Find out if refrigerators are allowed and coordinate who should bring one between you and your roommate.

Communicating with the Outside World

Many dorms provide telephones and voice-mail in each room. Once you get your room assignment, find out if you’ll need to bring your own telephone or answering machine. Some colleges provide computers in the residence halls. All colleges have computer labs on campus. If you’ll be bringing your own computer, bring a surge protector, and find out what type of computer hook-up is available in your room. Although dorm rooms don’t come with televisions, the common areas and lounges typically have cable TV. If you think you’ll need a television in your room, coordinate with your roommate so you don’t end up with two. Also find out about reception in your residence hall. You may not be able to get decent reception without paying for cable, especially if you’ll be living in a high-rise-style building. The local cable company is usually on campus in the first few weeks of school to set up new accounts.

Exercising Good Judgment

Remember that in the dorms, you’ll be sharing a small space with someone you probably don’t know. Bring what you’ll need to make you feel comfortable in your new space, without making your roommate uncomfortable. Start out with just the basics. If you forget something, you can always pick it up on your next trip home. Be cautious when bringing expensive items. Things that get lost, broken or stolen are your responsibility.