College Preparation Services | Summer Hub

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Paying for tuition expenses

Getting Ready to Go!

Preparation Toolkit

If you are moving on campus, it can be overwhelming to know what to bring with you.  There are some things that you should pack and bring with you (like clothes, sheets, towels, and blankets) and others that you can wait to buy once you get on campus (like notebooks and other school supplies) to make the move-in process easier.  College dorm rooms will usually have basic furniture like a bed and a desk, but not much else.  You will also likely be sharing a bathroom with other students in your dorm.  Some essentials will be:

  • XL twin bed sheets (college dorm rooms usually have XL-sized twin mattresses)
  • Comforter/blanket
  • Pillows
  • Towels
  • Hangers
  • Laundry basket/hamper
  • Laundry detergent & fabric softener
  • Shower caddy to bring toiletries to the shower
  • Flip-flops to wear in the shower
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, shampoo, lotion, etc.)

Check out this packing list for more packing tips!

Get prepared for your first day of college!

  1. Find your classes ahead of time!
    Save yourself the stress of finding your classes on the first day. A day or two before classes start, use a campus map to find each class so you won’t be panicking to find them on the first day!
  2. Be Prepared!
    Some professors do not allow electronic devices in their class. So if you plan on using a laptop to take notes, be prepared with a spare notebook to take notes on.
  3. Read The Syllabus!
    This may seem obvious but actually read the syllabus! Professors leave valuable information in there (like not having to buy the textbook) that could save you when midterms/finals come around.
  4. Stay Organized!
    Having a planner can help you keep all your work in a single place so you never forget an assignment! Some schools even have apps dedicated to helping you keep track of coursework. Keeping your notes tidy and organized can also help you review after the lecture is over.
  5. Make New Connections!
    This may not be your highest priority but its one of the greatest things about college, make new connections! Meet new people! This is your time to find a new study buddy, study groups, etc. Having a group of people that you could work on coursework with and review for tests together with can go a lot farther than just passing the course. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you!
  6. Get Good Sleep!
    Starting/having a good sleep schedule is more of an essential that students think. A good 8-hour sleep will have you feeling refreshed and ready to take on your day. Getting ample amounts of sleep help you stay focused during class, improve concentration, and can overall boost your academic performance.

It is one thing to get accepted into a college and another thing to actually get there on time for day one. Try to factor for travel costs to go home during holiday breaks or even just for weekends when you get homesick or you just can’t eat another meal in the cafeteria this week. Consider these tips for handling transportation when you are in college.

Getting Around Campus

  • Get familiar with campus – Orientation is a great time to find out where your classes are located.  Walking is usually how students may get from one class to the next, so be sure that your schedule allows you enough time.  You might want to group your classes in nearby buildings close to one another, such as science and math classes if they are located in the same building or same area of campus.
  • Safety – Become familiar with and take advantage of services that allow you to get around campus safely at night, such as shuttles or group walks.  Many campuses offer these services to ensure that students can get home safely after a late night at another part of campus.

Getting Around Town

  • In Chicago – A CTA U-Pass provides you unlimited rides on the CTA during your enrollment as a full-time student in a participating institution, with the fee usually added to your tuition.  Participating schools include City Colleges of Chicago, DePaul University, and Roosevelt University, UIC, and many others. Contact your school to learn if you are eligible for a CTA U-Pass.
    • You can also cut costs by applying for a gas card or transit card through the Chicago Moves program. By applying to this program, you have the opportunity to receive a $150 prepaid gas card or a $50 prepaid transit cards.
    • Get a $5/year Divvy bike membership for the first year!
  • Outside of ChicagoStudents should inquire on their campuses about public transportation passes in their college communities.  For example, at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, students can use their student ID (their i-card) as a bus pass to ride the public MTD buses around Champaign and Urbana.

Moving In and Coming Home for Breaks

  • Ground Transportation – From Chicago there are several transportation options to get to and from colleges which are out-of-town. 
    • Greyhound: Students can find cheap bus fares and a variety of schedules at
    • Amtrak: It is also possible to catch an Amtrak train from Union Station in downtown Chicago to many college locations in Illinois and outside of the state. Check their baggage policy page to find details on how many packages you can check, what additional bags would cost you, and how to get at-station baggage services once you arrive at the station.
    • Megabus: The Megabus has been a favorite of college students – especially those coming from Michigan or Wisconsin to Chicago – due to its low fares and regular schedules from pick-up and drop-off locations near major campuses.
    • U-Haul Truck Rentals– If you have lots of boxes, renting a small U-Haul could cost around $250 – $300 for two days of use and 163 miles. Rates are lower during the work day than during the weekend.
    • Peer-to-Peer Shipping – If you have a couple of large boxes (more than two but less than 10), there are sites like and which are like ride share services for your stuff. You fill out a request and the site matches you with someone who is going in the same direction and has room in their car for your boxes. Peer shipping costs will vary and are often negotiable but the average cost for a large box is $1.50/mile.
  • Airfare – Flights are often expensive, but if necessary and relevant that is also an option. 
    • Use a low-fare search engine like or to find the cheapest flights to and from Chicago. 
    • Southwest Airlines also flies out of both Midway and O’Hare airports and often has some of the lowest fares available – and no baggage fees!

Other Ways to Cut Transportation Costs

  • Should I get a car? It is not recommended that first-year students take cars to college. Parking passes are expensive and often very limited for first-year students (and parking tickets will make your wallet say ouch!). Cars also require insurance,  gas money, and maintenance, which can eat into a tight college budget. 
  • How do I join a carpool? Look for student postings, either online (try Waze Carpool), or near the student center or cafeteria, for college students who do have cars on campus offering carpools to Chicago, especially during Thanksgiving and Winter Break. In a carpool setup a college student with a car may offer a ride to another student to Chicago in exchange for gas money (and good company). 
  • How else do I get cheaper tickets? Plan ahead! You won’t be the only college student trying to get back to Chicago during the breaks or on the weekends, so it is a good idea to make your travel plans as early as you can (even at the start of the semester) and book your bus, train, plane or car ride in advance. The fares are often cheaper if you book more than 30 days in advance, and you will have more schedule selection.

Over 500 colleges and universities are requiring students to get COVID-19 vaccinations and the number is growing. See the full list here.

All Chicagoans 12 and older are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in Chicago.  Find and book an appointment using or using vaccine finder.

IMPORTANT: Anyone under 18 years old must have a parent or legal guardian present with them in order to get vaccinated 

Here are some additional vaccination opportunities for students. Most major hospital partners offering Pfizer have contacted their eligible patients. In addition, these partner organizations with community locations also provide Pfizer vaccine (12+). This list is not exhaustive and may change.

This page links to all of the pages on our site which can help you with your personal needs, such as finding free food, accessing affordable housing or getting help with bills and money matters.


  • MRelief – Do you need help with food?
    • Did you know over $11 billion in SNAP and Food Stamp funding goes unclaimed every year, including over 2 million college students who could qualify for food assistance.
    • mRelief can help you find out if you qualify. in just a few minutes and support you through an efficient application process within one to two weeks without ever having to wait in line in a government office for hours and hours.


  • Love Fridges
    • Love Fridge Chicago is  a community-sustained mutual aid initiative where publicly available refrigerators are stationed in locations all around the city for communities to drop off and pick up fresh food without additional paperwork or red tape.
    • Find a fridge near you.


  • Flexible Financial Fund through All Chicago
    • The Flexible Financial Fund is a FREE emergency fund program designed to help you with a one-time grant (free money you do not have to pay back) to resolve an immediate money problem (rent payment, utility bill, transportation needs, etc.).


  • Pregnant or Parenting
    • If pregnant or parenting and seeking childcare, the Illinois Action for Children offers a service to help you find childcare options.
    • If you are a new mom looking for job training opportunities and a way to increase your wages, check out this job training  program for young mothers in Chicago.


  • Chicago Rental Assistance Program and Utility Bill Assistance
    • The Rental Assistance Program (RAP) provides funding to Chicagoans who are at risk of becoming homeless. RAP helps Chicagoans who have housing right now, but who may become homeless soon because they lost income or had another eligible emergency which prevents them from paying rent.
    • The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps eligible low-income households pay for home energy services (primarily heating during winter months).
  • LinkedIn
    • LinkedIn is a social networking platform for your professional self. People share their work experience and qualifications, employers use it to hire and also define their services. You can use LinkedIn to stay in touch with people, learn about internships, and network with potential companies!

  • List/Links to tools
    • Registering for LinkedIn is fast and free! Visit
      • Be sure to use an email and password that you won’t forget!
    • LinkedIn has provided great resources for students to build a great profile!
      • This is includes tips on what type of picture to upload and writing a summary for yourself
    • Create and showcase your online “professional presence,” including:
      • Your education and work qualifications (where have you worked? What do you study? What activities do you do?)
      • Your skills (what are you good at?)
      • Your potential (where do you aspire to work? What’s your dream job?)
    • Expand your network! 
      • Check out Summerhub’s Build Your Network page to learn more about creating connections with people who can help you on your journey.
    • Don’t be afraid to engage
      • Comment publicly on posts that you relate to and follow people from different industries
    • For resume help, check out Summerhub’s Resume Help section on the Paying for it all page!

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