Home matters 

No matter how ready you are to leave home, you'll miss a few things after a little time at college: home cooking, your comfy bed, the family cat. Nothing will ever substitute for your mom's (insert food here) but with the right tools, you can find temporary replacements for these things and possibly even make some money along the way.

• If you're homesick for your furry (or even feathered) friend, spending a couple hours a week volunteering for an animal-welfare organization might just be the cure. Not all the jobs available are as fun as dog-walking or kitten-cuddling, but kennel-cleaning is a necessity to keep a shelter in working order. Visit the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region's website (hsppr.org) for more information on becoming a volunteer. You should also look into other local animal rescue programs including Dreampower (dreampower.org) and 9 Lives Rescue (colorado9lives.com). If you'd like to turn your love of animals into a part-time job, occasionally there will be listings on Craigslist for dog walkers and pet sitters.

• Maybe you miss a younger sibling. Maybe you're just good with kids. Either way, it wasn't that long ago that you were in elementary school. Take the wisdom you learned and put it to good use as a Big. Big Brothers Big Sisters (biglittlecolorado.org) is always looking for volunteers to spend time with children who need mentors. Don't worry about money — it's recommended you plan activities that don't cost much, if anything. Do you go home during the summer? Volunteer as a school-based Big and meet a student at school to help with homework during the school year. Also check the United Way website (ppunitedway.org) for tutoring and volunteer opportunities.

• One important lesson you'll learn is to never turn away a free meal. As a student at Colorado College, UCCS or the Academy, you can get paired with a mentor or a family to make the transition into college easier. Depending on the relationship you develop with these people, they may provide meals, a quiet room to study, or even a place to do laundry. If you have a church affiliation, many congregations also reach out to college students and offer some of the comforts of home, usually in the form of food and care packages.

— Lea Shores


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