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Originally published December 1, 2016 and updated July 15, 2019.

Having sent two of my “babies” far away to college, we’ve picked a bunch of tips for college success that have worked for us and will for you, too. I’ve learned a lot from the fourteen semesters of parenting college students and dealing with different university systems.

Classic college building with text overlay

Heading off to college your freshman year can be daunting because everything is new and different.  It’s an exciting new chapter and one that you’ve been working towards all your life and you want to do everything you can to be successful.

How to Be Successful in College

  • Do your research and select the best college for you and your future plans.
    • Below are seven different tips for making the most of your college visits, knowing how much college is really going to cost,  and preparing for college life.
  • Research scholarships and financial options to reduce the stress of the cost of college.
    • Find a comprehensive list of full-tuition scholarships below.
  • Plan ahead and purchase the items you really need to be successful in college.
    • Below are 7 different shopping lists covering a variety of categories of needed items.
  • Plan for packing and moving into the dorm.
  • Be organized and disciplined in your approach to classes, homework, assignments and exams.
  • Be a good roommate and make friends that support you and your goals.
    • Find tips for first-time roommates below.
  • Be a responsible adult.
  • Take advantage of the myriad of opportunities available in college and enjoy college life while staying in touch with your family.
    • I’ve shared my thoughts as a parent getting my child ready for college success and tips for parents sending their children off to college. 

Top Tips for College Success

Visiting and Applying to College

College Visit Checklist – There’s a lot of information to absorb at a college visit and you don’t want to miss any of it. Print out your free college visit checklist to use to record everything that’s important to your family to learn at each college you visit.

College Tour – How to Prep – How to prepare to get the most enjoyment & information from a college tour visit. Be prepared so you can obtain the critical information you need.

Tips for a College Tour Visit – What do you need to do at a college visit to learn the details you need? Use these tips for a college tour visit and my experience of sending two children to highly competitive colleges. 

Saving for College – 40 Tips for Real Families – 40 ideas, both traditional and creative, to help in saving for college. These are ideas real families can implement to reduce and even eliminate college debt.

How Much Does it Cost to Apply to College – You will be surprised at how much it costs to apply to college. I know we were with both babies that have headed off to college. Knowing what to expect in costs, helps you to budget for those expenses. 

Unexpected Hidden Costs of College – You think you know about how much college will cost. It’s tuition + room and board, right? No-oooo, there are many unexpected costs that quickly add up and increase the cost of college. When you anticipate those hidden costs, you can plan for them. 

10 Tips to Prepare for College – It doesn’t have to be difficult to prepare for college. Use these 10 tips that I’ve picked up from sending two of my babies to college more than 10 hours away from home. 

You can afford to attend a top-ranked university with this list of more than 19 full-tuition academic scholarships and graduate debt-free.

Full-Tuition Academic Scholarships – Did you know that there are full-tuition scholarships and full-ride scholarships (that include room and board)? This comprehensive list of scholarships will help you find a full-tuition scholarship for your baby. 

Preparing and Shopping for College

Get your free copy of the Dorm Move-In Day Must Haves list so you don’t miss a single item to make this stressful day easier. 

Basic College Supply List – Knowing what basic supplies your student needs for college success is simple with this free printable supply list. 

College Technology Shopping List – Print out this free college technology shopping list so you know exactly what your baby needs for college.  Much of college success is reliant on having the needed items from this list.

7 Must-Haves for College – With two of my babies away at college for several years, we’ve compiled our list of must-have items for college. They may not be what you think. 

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5 Tips for the Best Shower Caddy in College – Whether you share a bathroom with roommates or have a down-the-hall bathroom, these simple tips will make your shower caddy work for you. 

7 Simple Tips for College Students – The simple college tips that really work are the ones that make the most impact for college success.

2 white bins with letter initials and filled with things

Easy College Organizing Tip – Sometimes the simplest tips make a huge impact. When two or more people live in a teeny tiny room together, organization is key to peaceful coexistence. Check out this simple idea. 

Office Supplies for College Students – When your baby heads off to college, they are in effective setting up their own home. They need a complete set of office supplies in their new dorm room. 

Cleaning Supplies for the College Student – Your baby is much more likely to keep their dorm room clean if they have all the necessary supplies. This list of suggested cleaning supplies is the perfect spot to get started. 

How to Pack Clothes for Moving to College – It is overwhelming when you begin to pack to send your baby to college. These simple tips for packing clothes will make that move a bit more organized and easier. 

Best Color of Towels for College – Before you send your baby off to college, you should consider what color of towels make the most sense for your student. There are definite opinions one the best color towels to take to college and I share our opinions. 

Back to College Shopping List Free Printable – Grab this free printable college shopping list before you head out to the store. This way you don’t forget any key items. 

Labeling Your Stuff for College  – When you share a tiny dorm room with one or more other strangers, there can be some conflict over which items belong to who. It’s important to label key belongings prior to heading to college. 

How to Pack for College – Tips for packing your items so that they survive the move to college.

trunk of car filled with boxes and bags

Dorm Move-In Day Tips – Dorm Move-In Day can be crazy chaotic and very emotional. These tips for parents will help make move-in less stressful and allow you to focus on your baby more on that important day when you separate from your baby at college. 

DIY College First Aid Kit – I want to keep my baby healthy and safe when she’s far away from home. To help do that, I made a college first adi kit and share with you the must-have items to include in your college first aid kit. 

Budgeting, Paper Coupons and the College Student – Teach your college student about budgeting and how to use coupons to purchase personal care items while they’re away at college. 

First-Time Roommate Tips How to Get Along with a New Roommate – Learning to live with roommates can be challenging.
These simple tips will make the experience much more pleasant and successful.

Dinner Ideas for College Students – more than 45 simple recipes for college students (or anyone looking for quick and easy recipes) to make

2 cookbook covers with yellow and orange circle that says "buy together and save"
2 cookbook covers with orange and green circle that says "buy together and save"

Staying in Touch and Parenting from a Distance

Sending Your Child Off to College – I was mobilized after 9-11 and had to leave my babies, who were 3 and 6. Sending my babies off to college was just as difficult for me. I share simple tips to connect with your baby to strengthen your connection before the separation. 

9 Tips for Staying in Touch with Your College Student – You have to put a bit of effort into staying in touch with your college student. I share nine tips that have worked for my family in staying in touch despite busy schedules and hundreds of miles of separation. 

How Does a Protective Mom Survive Sending Her Baby to College? – It was very difficult for me to send my babies hours away in a strange city to go to college. I’d spent all their lives keeping them safe and suddenly I abandoned them in a strange city, locked in a too-small room with a stranger. I share my story about how I survived sending two of my babies away to college. 

Collage of 4 images of college care packages with text overlay

Creative College Care Package Ideas – Send your baby a concrete expression of how much you miss and love them with these creative care package ideas. There’s an idea here for everyone. 

Be sure to pin this so that you can readily find all these college success resources as soon as you need them. 

Classic college building with text overlay