Wait for court, stay out of trouble, and only talk with your public defender!
My name is Stephen R. Cohen and have practiced since 1974. I practice in Los Angeles and Orange County, CA. These answers do not create an attorney client relationship. My answers may offend I believe in telling the truth, I use common sense as well as the law. Other state's laws may differ.. There are a lot of really good attorneys on this site, I will do limited appearances which are preparation of court documents it is , less expensive. However generally I believe an attorney is better than none.
Don't wait for the court date to apply for a public defender, do it immediately. If you wait until the first court date they won't be able to do anything but set the case over for another appearance. On the other hand, if you apply soon, they'll have all the information on your case at your first court date. Go down to your local office and make sure you bring your paychecks or bank account records for the past few months as they will need financial information to make sure you qualify.
When you get to court you will be arraigned. You are a college student and a theft conviction will have a serious effect on your future. The best advise is to get a lawyer, Ask for a Public Defender and discuss your matter.