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11 Life Hacks for the Lazy-Smart College Student

Just like the saying goes: work smarter, not harder. Read on for 11 tips on maximizing your time (and everything else) in college.

College can be tough—you’re experiencing the pressures of adult life, going to school full time, taking care of yourself, and paying bills for what is most likely the first time ever. Real life can make you feel like no matter how you’re making the grade, you’re just not smart enough. There’s book smart and street smart…but then there’s lazy smart.

What is “lazy smart”?

Lazy smart isn’t about being lazy; it’s about being smart with your time, money, and energy for optimal results. You’re busy with your classes, studying, work, socializing, and all kinds of new responsibilities. Everyone could use more hours in the day. With a few time-saving hacks, you’d be surprised at how many hours you can bank. It’s not just time either—money and space are in short supply to students too, but with a little knowledge and minimal effort, you can make college life a lot easier!

1. Use your student discounts

You’d be surprised to know how many student discounts you can get with your college ID. When moving to a university town, it’s common to find discounts on everything from movie tickets to transportation—even groceries. Find the discount days in your city and keep your student ID on you at all times to make use of the best discounts! Also keep a look out for online discount codes and Groupons when you're back-to-school shopping at stores like Bed Bath & Beyond and JCPenney. There is always money to be saved! And speaking of money...make sure you know all the ins and outs before you apply for financial aid. You can increase your chance of qualifying if you don’t miss deadlines or make mistakes in your application.

2. Buy used textbooks

Most schools have a buyback program for books and equipment. Textbooks aren’t cheap, and programs like these can save you hundreds of dollars. Checking online can save even more.

Related: How to Save Money on College Textbooks

3. Work at school for extra cash

It can be tough to find a part-time job as a full-time student. Getting a job on campus is a great way to earn extra cash in a position that will let you put your studies first. If jobs in administration or at the student food court aren’t available, try setting yourself up as a tutor. It’s a great way to make money, and you can set your own hours.

4. Stay in to socialize

Making friends and having new experiences is a huge part of the college experience. Being broke, though, can sometimes make socializing tough. Try to make plans that don’t include going out: hang out at the beach or in the park, have a movie night on your living room floor…get creative and save some money! Combining these casual get-togethers with study dates also ensures you have time to do both.

Related: 13 Ideas for a Fun Night Right From Your Dorm Room

5. Get furniture that does double duty

Dorm rooms are tiny, and so are any apartments you can afford at student rates. It’s handy to get furniture that does double duty—futons that double as couches and stools that double as storage are a great start. Using comfy bean bag chairs as your seating also means you have a portable chair for those times the lighting is better in your living room.

6. Hang it up

You can double your dorm space by treating your walls like extra storage. A shoe caddy full of pockets is a great place to keep odds and ends that clutter up your living area. Hanging storage can be cheap, and you can even find adhesive hooks for only a couple dollars a pack to maximize useable wall space.

7. The microwave trick

Microwaves see a lot of use in college. Cut your microwave cleaning time in half with a simple trick:

  • Take a one-cup measuring cup and fill it halfway with equal parts vinegar and water. (You can also use a microwavable dish, but it has to be about half full.)
  • Boil the mixture in the microwave (about five minutes).
  • Dump the mixture in the sink and use a sponge to wipe out the microwave. It’s a lot faster than scrubbing it the hard way.

8. Use a towel to cut drying clothes in half

When you’re doing your laundry, stick a dry towel in the dryer after your spin cycle to suck up excess moisture and cut your time at the laundromat in half—because who has time to wait around?

9. Invest in a slow cooker

Want to save time, money, and a lot of effort in the kitchen? Get a slow cooker, the ultimate lazy student item (for those who live in apartments, that is). You can make big batches of almost anything in the slow cooker: soups, pulled pork, even full chicken dinners! Batch cooking means you can set the slow cooker before you leave for class and come home to a delicious meal with plenty of leftovers to freeze. They come in every size, will save you money, and ensure you’re living on something other than coffee and fries as you study.

Related: Preparing Healthy and Low-Cost Meals in a Dorm 

10. Color code everything

There are plenty of study hacks on how to color code, but the quickest and easiest way to keep track of everything is to choose a color scheme for every class and stick to it. Two colors for highlighting notes is ideal, and using the same colors to mark your class schedule or choosing particular colored notebooks, binders, and note cards will help cement those classroom associations in your mind. It makes staying organized second nature!

11. Use the time you have

Never overestimate how much time you have. Most college courses give you a syllabus at the beginning of the term so you have an idea of your assignment requirements. Just because that big assignment isn’t due for two months doesn’t mean you have all the time in the world. Budget your time wisely and schedule your homework in proportion to your class time; for example, if you spend five hours a week in a communications class, chances are your homework is at least five hours a week.

Related: Better Time Management in 3 Simple Steps

College is a lot to take in all at once. Balancing study and work schedules, living in a small space with a lot of people, eating and keeping yourself healthy—it’s a lot for anyone . But it doesn’t have to be tough. The lazy-smart student lifestyle is all about saving time and effort now so you can use all that time and energy where you really need it.

Save more than time in college—use our Scholarship Search tool!

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About Alex Avery

Once a serial student, now an online nomad, Alex leaves blog posts in every place that peaks his interest. When he’s not devouring obscure French graphic novels, he’s hunting yard sales for quirky teacups and learning to play the ukulele from YouTube vids.  


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