As fall approaches, you and others at your school eagerly anticipate the arrival of students who, likewise, eagerly anticipate the start of a new school year. Many of those students want to actively participate in life on campus, but they may need some guidance that will set them off in the right direction.
In her book The Confident Student, Eighth Edition, Carol C. Kanar offers a number of ways students can get familiar with, acclimated to, and involved on their college campuses. We’ve presented them in the form of a back-to-campus checklist. Though many of these relate to on-campus life, online students can consider how they can seek out similar information and experiences.

Learn your way around the campus.  Get a map from the college website, catalog, library, or your orientation materials, and explore. Learn where to find your classrooms, student services offices, dining areas, residence halls, restrooms, and other important landmarks. You’ll avoid the stress of trying to find your classroom ten minutes before the class starts!

If you’re attending an online college, get to know your school’s learning management system. Log in as soon as you gain access, and look for the location of class and school announcements, calendars, help features, college policies, and more.

Identify the available student services and where to find them. Kanar notes that most schools will offer students the following services designed to support your educational, financial, and physical needs. You can learn more about them through your school’s website or catalog.

  • Registrar’s office
  • Financial aid office
  • Academic advising/counseling office
  • Tutorial center/learning lab
  • Library/media center
  • Health services
  • Career center

Determine how to obtain the assistance of special services. If your needs pertain to your experience in the classroom, also let your instructors know as soon as possible.

❑ Familiarize yourself with your college catalog. You’ll find much of the information you want within its pages.

❑ Get active and involved.  Look into the activities, organizations, and events available at and through your school. Participate: you’ll get to know others,  develop new skills, and most of all… give yourself a well-rounded and rewarding college experience.

Consider any other needs or wants related to your experience in college, and take steps to address them. If you commute: try to find carpool buddies or alternative means of transportation, to alleviate some of those costs. If you’re an online student: find out how to connect with some local students “live” and in person, whether for study groups or just for fun. The personal touch adds a strong dimension to the learning experience (Kanar, 18-21).


Reference: Kanar, Carol C. 2014. The Confident Student, Eighth Edition. Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.


What other items would you add to a back-to-campus checklist? Share them in the comments.


Students looking for a helpful time-management tool? Tell them about the 2014-2015 College Success Planner from Cengage Learning. This eighteen-month calendar, designed specifically for college students, provides a place to write down appointments, assignments, social engagements, and other important responsibilities and events. It also offers tips and advice that support their success in college and beyond.