1. Find a somewhat reasonable online location to buy textbooks, because buying them from the school bookstore is the financial equivalent of having your kneecaps broken by the mafia. Never again should you have to degrade yourself at the altar of higher learning and choose between a “new” book at 373.50 and a “used” book at 365.27.
2. Invest in several cardigans, as there is no clothing item more versatile, portable, functional, and attractive than a cardigan. Fall is the season of going from heat-lamp uncomfortable when directly under the sun to pass-me-the-hot-cocoa chilly in the shade. Never be without a cardigan to bridge this gap in temperature.
3. Mentally prepare yourself to eat, drink, live, breathe, and be completely taken in by the sweet, dark magic that is pumpkin spice.
4. Fully enjoy the last few days of swimming, wearing breezy clothes, and drinking frozen drinks — even though it seems like the oppressive heat of summer can’t end soon enough, you’ll miss it pretty much the moment it’s gone.
5. See all of your friends from home one last time and remind yourself of how much you love them, how big a part of you they are, and how you should do better to keep in touch with them during the school year.
6. Spend an entire afternoon just getting lost in the school supply aisle, a Sugarplum ballet of three-ring binders and fresh, clean paper dancing in your head. And pens. Oh, god, new pens.
7. Invest in a good amount of multivitamins so as to not get scurvy during the colder, more indoor-oriented winter months.
8. Give a big hug and “thank you” to your parents, guardians, or sugar daddy — whoever is cosigning on those precious, precious loans.
9. Finally go through your clothes and either donate or swap the ones that either don’t fit or you never wear. There is no reason to move in with a metric ton of surplus clothes that you will never touch.
10. Be really, really nice to all those people who are going to help you move in.
11. Find a good cookbook that will provide you with at least a few cheap, easy recipes that you can make in a pinch — lest you spend the entire year watching your major organs and bones disintegrate on a diet of Pringles and ramen.
12. Hit the financial aid office and make sure there isn’t any more that can be done to make school less expensive, and double-check that everything was done properly, as there is nothing worse than finding out mid-way through the year that you paid more than you needed to, or that — surprise! — you owe someone a big, fat check.
13. Exploit your parents on back-to-school shopping for all it is worth because, trust me, that sh-t does not come again in life.
14. Make a last-ditch effort to get some color and not look as though you spent the majority of your summer in your room browsing Tumblr, as you most likely did.
15. Resign yourself to the idea that, no matter how ~earth shattering~ and ~completely pure~ your summer romance was, it may not make it all the way to Thanksgiving, and that’s no one’s fault.
16. Make a list of everything you didn’t do so well last year, and make conscious efforts to improve on them this year. Even if the goals are as small as “don’t eat messy foods directly over the keyboard, every little bit helps.
17. Enjoy your parents cooking for you. Savor it.
18. Draft up a reasonable budget, and try to allocate no more than 75 percent of your monthly income to drinking money. Okay, 80 percent.
19. Take a moment, in all seriousness, to consider how profoundly lucky you are to be able to get an education, to learn and grow and foster your talents in a setting that allows you to try new things and make mistakes. Think of how many people aren’t afforded such a luxury, and try to keep it in mind when you’re inclined to complain about the more frustrating aspects of higher learning.