Originally Posted: Aug 30, 2019
Last Updated: Sep 3, 2019
It’s finally time! You’re on your own: in college and ready to start a new life. With a new life comes a lot of new responsibilities. If you’re not sure where to start to rock this new college life, check out these tips and tricks to get everything on track!
1. Make yourself at home right away
The first step to feeling more comfortable at college is to make yourself at home. Unpack the minute you arrive. It’s one less thing to worry about later on, and it helps you feel chill straight away. This place will be home for the next year, after all! Take some time to decorate your room and choose dorm-friendly items like fun storage solutions and cozy bean bag chairs.
2. Get to know your campus
The next important step in integrating into campus life is to actually get to know your campus. Obviously, you want to learn where your classes are and how far apart they are for the tough days. But it’s essential to go beyond that. Get to know your financial aid office and career center—they could be links to important opportunities later on. Learn the popular hangouts and where most campus events are held. Get to know your professors’ office hours and where you can find student services for when you need help.
3. Treat school like a job
Organizational skills are a big part of your college success. To make the best of your school years, treat it like a full-time job. Class schedules can be tough to manage. Waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day can give you some extra time to study. Most of the time, you’ll be given a full assignment schedule at the beginning of term in your course syllabi, which makes it easy to schedule time to study or do homework. Schedule your study hours along with your classes and show up for them just as you would for class.
4. Find ways to make or save some extra cash
Any way you can take the pressure off student loans will help you in the long run. If you’re struggling to find work that fits with your schedule, check for a job on campus. Campus jobs are usually great at working around class schedules and can even help you build your résumé. Failing that, set yourself up as a freelancer. If your grades are good, working as a tutor may be an option. Writing résumés and helping edit term papers is another great way to earn money on campus.
The flipside of this is to be smart with the money you have and save as much on your expenses as you can. This can range from saving on groceries by smart meal prepping and bringing your own coffee to sharing textbooks with fellow students. And be careful with the few costly things you have that are vital to your study success. For instance, protect your phone with a solid case and your laptop with a sturdy, waterproof backpack. Breaking expensive gadgets and appliances you need on a daily basis can seriously bring a painful blow to your fun college life.
5. More saving: Embrace those student discounts
You’d be amazed at how many student discounts you qualify for! You can save money on everything from textbooks and school supplies to nights out and even on groceries. Get to know your neighborhood and what discounts you’re entitled to. It can save you a bundle.
6. Find a study style that works for you
Different people retain information in different ways, so try different methods. Study with friends and alone. Take pen and paper notes for a week then try it with the laptop or record your lectures (if you can). Within a week or two, you should naturally gravitate toward your most natural way to learn. If you’re struggling to find the right study style, talk to a student advisor or tutor for help.
7. Get involved in campus life
Studying is important, but it’s not everything about college life. Get involved with life on campus. Join clubs. Go to mixers and events. Get to know your roommates with fun nights in. You might also choose to work as a student council member, get a job on campus, or freelance as a tutor. However you decide to get involved with campus life, it’ll make the next four years a lot more fun!
8. Let Mom fuss
Your Mom’s worried about you—it’s the first time her baby’s away from home! And it’s a lot of new things for you to handle on your own. Let your parents help where they can and take some of the stress away, whether it’s with a few extra meals, dollars, or a quick laundry trip home.
9. Make good use of your space
Living in a tiny dorm room isn’t easy, and the last thing you want is to look up from your desk on finals week to find your room is a disaster! Keep yourself organized by making use of the vertical space in your room. Hang things up. Use closet organizers. And take time to put things together! Fifteen minutes of organizing your study space at the end of every day could mean the difference between a desk comfortable enough to spend hours at and finding any excuse to avoid studying in your room.
10. Learn the ins and outs of dorm life
Speaking of dorm life, living with others has its challenges. Make yourself a bathroom tote to quickly jump in and out of your shared bathroom. Create a chore schedule to help you and your roommate(s) decide who is responsible for what. And if you’re in a dorm, get to know the RA on your floor so you’ll always know where to go if there’s a problem.
11. Remember everyone else is nervous too!
Meeting new people is always a little scary. But in your college life, you’re likely to be surrounded by other freshmen. Keep in mind that everyone is as nervous as you are. Don’t be afraid to try new things and do something a little different. College is all about experimentation and meeting new people. Pay attention to your studies, but don’t let the new environment get the better of you.
Related: The First Day of College
College comes with a lot of work and responsibility. But it’s a lot of fun too! Going into it with the right attitude makes a huge difference. Stay organized and embrace dorm life, and you’re sure to make the next four years a fantastic journey!
What’s your favorite part of dorm life? Tweet us what you love @CollegeXpress.