College 101

Get Your Ducks in a Row
Article Type: Quick and Dirty

You are 100% ready for college. You’ve surfed Notre Dame’s online store and ordered a pair of your very own Fighting Irish knee socks. You’ve gone to the grocery store and purchased a year’s supply of peanut butter. The deeper voice seems to be working for you, and with that mature, parted-down-the-middle haircut, no one is going to mistake you for a high schooler any longer.

Yep, sounds like you’ve thought of everything. Guess all that’s left is to… is to…

What, exactly?

Turns out they won’t let you register for classes just because you’re wearing an “I Love to Register for Classes” T-shirt. The admissions office has no record of you having been accepted. Mainly because… you never were. And that parted-down-the-middle haircut? It’s really just going to make the act of befriending people that much more difficult.

Woman with Hair Parted in Center
No, really, it looks great...


If you really want to be prepared for college, you have to get your ducks in a row. Not just any ducks… the right ducks. If you’re wondering which ducks those might be… you’ve come to the right place. We can give your ducks the tools they need to start swimmin’.

And why would you want to be prepared for college?

Because this is huge. Bigger than huge. Ginormous, even. College is the bridge between learning and living. The decisions you make now will impact how you exist for the rest of your existence.

It’s where you’re going to realize that combat juggling isn’t really a great way to earn a paycheck, and that instead you’re going to go into medicine. It’s where you will meet Bill and Bob and Joyce and Judy, who will stick with you through thick and thin for the rest of your life. (You’ll also meet Carter, who will make your life hell, but you’ll be done with him in 4 years.) It’s where you’ll pack your head so full of knowledge you’re going to need to build an addition to your skull just to hold it all.

The magnitude of the decision before you cannot be overstated. But overstate it we will. Because we can’t reach through the screen and shake you by the shoulders, which would be our first option.

But first things first. Before you write a single paper, before you fill out a single application… the very first thing you must do is Make a Plan with Shmoop if you haven't done so yet. You can’t expect others to assess you favorably if you haven’t first…assessed yourself. Just make sure the blinds are closed before you begin.

Don’t believe us that it’s important to plan ahead? Here are the Top 10 occupations held by people who never made a plan:

Window with Cords
"Happy assessing."


Top 10 Occupations Held by Non-Planners

  1. Ice cream man
  2. Sous sous sous chef
  3. Professional temp
  4. Bearded lady
  5. Court jester
  6. Model (think: JC Penney, not Glamour)
  7. Food taster (great gig as long as none of it’s poisoned)
  8. Sean Penn’s Personal Assistant
  9. Typewriter repair man
  10. Actor

Take a look at the checklist next so that those ducks of yours don’t freak out and scatter.