College Life

We’ve hit the highlights. But there are lots of other specific things that you should know before your first day of class – things like student organizations you can join, facts about housing and transportation, and what you should pack if you plan to live on campus. We’ve also listed a lot of differences between high school and college that will impact your life as a student. And last, but not least, you’ll find our FAQ (frequently asked questions) page. You might even want to submit a few questions of your own.

What To Pack For College?

Your plans are made. You are on your way to college. Just make sure you have everything you need when you get there.

We’ve included this list to help you get started, and it’s probably more than you’ll ever need.

For Everything:

  • Money
  • Checkbook/extra checks
  • Debit or credit card
  • Driver’s license/ID card
  • Insurance card
  • Medical alert
  • Permission for medical treatment (if needed)


For the Walls/Doors:

  • Message board (white board or magnet board)
  • Dry erase markers
  • Magnets
  • Bulletin board/push pins
  • Posters
  • Pictures/frames
  • Calendar
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Sticky tack

For Class, Homework, and Projects:

  • Computer
  • Printer
  • Blank CDs
  • Jump drive
  • Backpack
  • Table
  • Dictionary/thesaurus
  • Pens/pencils
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Markers/highlighters
  • Notebooks
  • White printer paper
  • Paper clips
  • Post-it notes
  • Stapler
  • Hole puncher
  • Tape
  • Rubber bands
  • Ruler
  • Calculator
  • White-out
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Lap desk
  • Study lamp
  • Study pillow
  • Bookends
  • Desk organizers (pencil/pen holders, file folders, file boxes, etc.)

For the Room:

  • Pillow(s)
  • Pillow case(s)
  • Sheets
  • Blankets
  • Mattress pad
  • Vinyl mattress cover
  • Egg crate
  • Throw pillows
  • Dust ruffle
  • Window treatment
  • Wrapped concrete blocks (for raising the bed)
  • Carpet/area rug
  • Extra chair
  • Bedside table
  • Stacking shelves
  • Stacking drawers
  • Stacking baskets
  • Crates
  • Under-bed storage
  • Safe
  • Trash can
  • Lamp
  • Magazine rack/basket
  • Phone
  • Alarm clock
  • Wall clock
  • Wall/door mirror
  • Makeup mirror
  • Jewelry storage
  • Refrigerator/dorm refrigerator
  • Microwave

For Closets/Drawers:

  • Hangers
  • Hooks
  • Over-door hooks
  • Hinge hooks
  • Shoe bag or rack
  • Lint brush
  • Belt/tie rack
  • Drawer dividers
  • Drawer liners


For the Bath:

  • Shower tote
  • Shower shoes
  • Shower wrap
  • Towels
  • Wash cloths/sponge
  • Hand towels
  • Beach towel
  • Towel rack
  • Toiletries

For Laundry:

  • Laundry bag
  • Laundry basket
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Spray starch
  • Detergent
  • Fabric softener
  • Bleach
  • Stain remover
  • Quarters

For Trips (Short or Long, Home or Away):

  • Luggage
  • Hanging garment bag
  • Sleeping bag
  • Flashlight
  • Tire inflator
  • Car rod
  • Flares
  • Atlas
  • Hidden key
  • Jumper cables
  • Emergency kit

For Whatever:

  • Tool kit
  • Umbrella/rain jacket
  • Sewing kit
  • Shoeshine kit
  • Manicure kit
  • Medicine box (thermometer, pain medicine, stomach medicine, band-aids, antibiotic ointment, allergy medicine, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, etc.)
  • Dustbuster
  • Outlet extenders/splitters
  • Extension cords
  • Fan
  • Surge protector
  • Light bulbs
  • Batteries
  • Smoke alarm
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Plastic containers
  • Plastic bags
  • Trash bags
  • Disposable plates, cups, bowls, cutlery
  • Napkins/paper towels
  • Can opener
  • Bottle opener

For Fun:

  • Deck of cards
  • Bike/bike rack
  • Golf clubs
  • Tennis racket
  • Cooler
  • Radio/stereo
  • CDs
  • iPod
  • DVDs
  • Bible
  • Books

For Keeping in Touch

  • Cell phone
  • Stationery
  • Stamps
  • Envelopes

Grocery List for the Dorm

Don’t arrive at the dorm with out the essentials for dorm living! Once you arrive scout out the nearest grocery store and stock your dorm. This is a great first trip to get to know your dorm mate.

Dry Goods
  • Cold cereal
  • Pretzels
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Graham crackers
  • Crackers
  • Dried soups (Fantastic Foods are nutritious)
  • Cookies
  • Hot cocoa
  • Tea
  • Instant Coffee
  • Chips
  • Non-fat dry milk (in case you run out of regular milk)
Fresh Food
  •  Skim milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cheese
Fresh fruits / Perishables:
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Pears
  • Bananas
  • Baby carrots
  • Bread
Canned / Jarred
  • Tuna
  • Soups
  • Vegetables
  • Chili
  • Peanut Butter
  • Applesauce
  • vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Snack Paks: Pudding
  • Low fat mayonnaise
  • Sugar
  • Salsa
  • Ketchup
  • Jam/Jelly
  • Mustard
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Dips for vegetables

Check Out The Student Organizations

Colleges throughout Mississippi offer a wide variety of extracurricular activities that can help you connect and meet people as well as get involved in your area of study.

Sure, there are fraternities and sororities, but Greek life isn’t for everyone. And college has so much more to offer! Whatever your interests are, you can find a club or organization to meet your needs!

Here is just a short list of extracurricular activities you could get involved with:

  • Student Government
  • Athletics (intramural or varsity)
  • Academic organizations (Phi Theta Kappa, Phi Beta Kappa, etc.)
  • Volunteer and service-related organizations
  • Multicultural activities
  • Arts
  • Social/Greek clubs (fraternities and sororities)

To get involved, check out the university newspaper, union, or institutional website for ideas. Chances are you’ll find people who share your interests and experiences!

What Is Student Life Like?

Life in college will be different from life in high school. Here are just some of the differences you can expect.


  • High school is mandatory and usually free.
  • Your time is structured by others.
  • You need permission to participate in extracurricular activities.
  • You can count on parents and teachers to remind you of your responsibilities and to guide you in setting priorities.
  • Each day, you proceed from one class directly to another, spending 6 hours each day – 30 hours a week – in class.
  • Most of your classes are arranged for you.
  • You are not responsible for knowing what it takes to graduate.
  • Guiding principle: You will usually be told what to do and corrected if your behavior is out of line.


  • College is voluntary and expensive.
  • You manage your own time.
  • You must decide whether to participate in co-curricular activities.
  • You must balance your responsibilities and set priorities. You will face moral and ethical decisions you have never faced before.
  • You often have hours between classes; class times vary throughout the day and evening, and you spend only 12 to 16 hours each week in class.
  • You arrange your own schedule in consultation with your adviser. Schedules tend to look lighter than they really are.
  • Graduation requirements are complex, and differ from year to year. You are expected to know those that apply to you.
  • Guiding principle: You are expected to take responsibility for what you do and don’t do, as well as for the consequences of your decisions.


  • The school year is 36 weeks long; some classes extend over both semesters and some don’t.
  • Classes generally have no more than 35 students.
  • You may study outside class as little as 0 to 2 hours a week, and this may be mostly last-minute test preparation.
  • You seldom need to read anything more than once, and sometimes listening in class is enough.
  • You are expected to read short assignments that are then discussed, and often re-taught, in class.
  • Guiding principle: You will usually be told in class what you need to learn from assigned readings.


  • The academic year is divided into two separate 15-week semesters, plus a week after each semester for exams.
  • Classes may number 100 students or more.
  • You need to study at least 2 to 3 hours outside class for each hour in class.
  • You need to review class notes and text material regularly.
  • You are assigned substantial amounts of reading and writing which may not be directly addressed in class.
  • Guiding principle: It’s up to you to read and understand the assigned material; lectures and assignments proceed from the assumption that you’ve already done so.


  • Teachers check your completed homework.
  • Teachers remind you of your incomplete work.
  • Teachers approach you if they believe you need assistance.
  • Teachers are often available for conversation before, during, or after class.
  • Teachers have been trained in teaching methods to assist in imparting knowledge to students.
  • Teachers provide you with information you missed when you were absent.
  • Teachers present material to help you understand the material in the textbook.
  • Teachers often write information on the board to be copied in your notes.
  • Teachers impart knowledge and facts, sometimes drawing direct connections and leading you through the thinking process.
  • Teachers often take time to remind you of assignments and due dates.
  • Teachers carefully monitor class attendance.
  • Guiding principle: High school is a teaching environment in which you acquire facts and skills.


  • Professors may not always check completed homework, but they will assume you can perform the same tasks on tests.
  • Professors may not remind you of incomplete work.
  • Professors are usually open and helpful, but most expect you to initiate contact if you need assistance.
  • Professors expect and want you to attend their scheduled office hours.
  • Professors have been trained as experts in their particular areas of research.
  • Professors expect you to get from classmates any notes from classes you missed.
  • Professors may not follow the textbook. Instead, to amplify the text, they may give illustrations, provide background information, or discuss research about the topic you are studying. Or they may expect you to relate the classes to the textbook readings.
  • Professors may lecture nonstop, expecting you to identify the important points in your notes. When professors write on the board, it may be to amplify the lecture, not to summarize it. Good notes are a must.
  • Professors expect you to think about and synthesize seemingly unrelated topics.
  • Professors expect you to read, save, and consult the course syllabus (outline); the syllabus spells out exactly what is expected of you, when it is due, and how you will be graded.
  • Professors may not formally take roll, but they are still likely to know whether or not you attended.
  • Guiding principle: College is a learning environment in which you take responsibility for thinking through and applying what you have learned.


  • Testing is frequent and covers small amounts of material.
  • Makeup tests are often available.
  • Teachers frequently rearrange test dates to avoid conflict with school events.
  • Teachers frequently conduct review sessions, pointing out the most important concepts.
  • Guiding principle: Mastery is usually seen as the ability to reproduce what you were taught in the form in which it was presented to you, or to solve the kinds of problems you were shown how to solve.


  • Testing is usually infrequent and may be cumulative, covering large amounts of material. You, not the professor, need to organize the material to prepare for the test. A particular course may have only 2 or 3 tests in a semester.
  • Makeup tests are seldom an option; if they are, you need to request them.
  • Professors in different courses usually schedule tests without regard to the demands of other courses or outside activities.
  • Professors rarely offer review sessions, and when they do, they expect you to be an active participant, one who comes prepared with questions.
  • Guiding principle: Mastery is often seen as the ability to apply what you’ve learned to new situations or to solve new kinds of problems.


  • Grades are given for most assigned work.
  • Consistently good homework grades may raise your overall grade when test grades are low.
  • Extra-credit projects are often available to help you raise your grade.
  • Initial test grades, especially when they are low, may not have an adverse effect on your final grade.
  • You may graduate as long as you have passed all required courses with a grade of D or higher.
  • Guiding principle: Effort counts. Courses are usually structured to reward a “good-faith effort.”


  • Grades may not be provided for all assigned work.
  • Grades on tests and major papers usually provide most of the course grade.
  • Extra-credit projects cannot, generally speaking, be used to raise a grade in a college course.
  • Watch out for your first tests. These are usually “wake-up calls” to let you know what is expected, but they also may account for a substantial part of your course grade. You may be shocked when you get your grades.
  • You may graduate only if your average in classes meets the departmental standard – typically a 2.0 or C.
  • Guiding principle: Results count. Though “good-faith effort” is important in regard to the professor’s willingness to help you achieve good results, it will not substitute for results in the grading process.

College Housing & Transportation

One of the really fun things about going to college is the experience of living on your own (or at least away from your parents) for the first time.

  • You can come and go as you please.
  • You can stay out late.
  • You can play video games all night.
  • You can live on junk food.
  • You can listen to your music at whatever level you want.
  • And on-and-on – you get the picture.

Of course, the on-your-own bit has its drawbacks, too.

  • You learn that bad roommates don’t just live in the movies – sometimes they live in the next twin bed.
  • You realize just how much your parents picked up after you.
  • You actually find yourself craving those home-grown vegetables your mom made you eat (Ramen noodles aren’t all they’re cracked up to be).
  • You find yourself not coming and going as you please, staying out late, and doing whatever, because it is all too expensive for a college student.

But if you’ve considered both the pros and cons to moving out on your own for college, here’s some info about housing and transportation.


Some colleges require freshmen to live on campus. Make sure you know your college’s requirements – and don’t miss housing application deadlines! Click here for links to the admission offices.

Some college campuses are commuter campuses only, meaning they don’t have housing at all. In this case, you’ll need to look into an apartment.


Some colleges do not allow cars on campus, or they restrict the use of vehicles by underclassmen (usually freshmen and sophomores). Be sure you know the rules and have a plan for getting around.

Consider buying a bike (and a helmet). You’ll get great exercise. Gas prices won’t matter. You’ll never have trouble finding a parking place. And it is faster than walking, and sometimes faster than driving.

Frequently Asked Questions

This page will be developed as the site grows.

Since just launched, we haven’t received many questions, much less frequently asked questions.

So, as questions come up, we’ll try to answer them, and we’ll post the answers to common questions right here.

Send questions to