Ten Things Every College Student Should Know

College should be fun, and will be a monumental step in life that will help shape your career. If you are headed to college soon, or are already in college but not sure about how things will turn out, know that you are not alone! Here are ten considerations that every college student should keep in mind.

No Major, No Problem

It is completely normal to go into college feeling a bit uncertain about what you want your major to be. Entering as a freshman with a declared major doesn’t lock you into it; you can always change it later. Think of college as an opportunity to expand your knowledge and build upon your interests. With that said, it’s a good idea to take a variety of classes in different fields during your freshman year so you can explore and discover what subjects you are most passionate about.

Be Financially Literate

Budgeting is very important in college. We recommend keeping a record of all your expenditures and savings, and avoid spending on items that you don’t need. Small savings everyday lead to big savings over time, so it’s never too early to start! Cook at home as often as possible if you can, limit spending on leisurely items, and set a reasonable budget for entertainment. You may even consider picking up a part-time job to help offset tuition costs.

Manage Your Time Well

There is a whole lot more to college than attending classes and taking exams. Successful students make time for extracurricular activities, internships, part-time jobs, and a healthy social & personal life outside of school. It’s essential to manage your time well between all of these important life aspects. Setting a schedule can be really helpful for time management. You can make the schedule as rigid or loose as you wish, however you think it’ll serve you best. Some like to block out each hour of the day so they ensure that they stay on track with each activity or task, while others have a schedule that’s more like a to-do list. Don’t forget to include “me time” in your schedule to give your mind and body the chance to unwind. Without it, the pressure and stress of school eventually gets to you!

Internships Increase Your Hiring Power

During your college years, it may be beneficial to look into getting an internship in a relevant field once you’ve decided on a major. Job recruiters love practical experience, and interning is a fantastic way to get that! You’ll be exposed to a professional work environment that the classroom alone can’t provide you, and get real-world experience that will put you in great shape for your first job out of college. With the job market so competitive these days, an internship can help make you stand out from other students and put you one step ahead of the game.

Balance Work & Play to Reduce Stress

It can be a challenge to juggling so many things at once: a rigorous class schedule, athletics, an internship or job, athletics, and a social/personal life. But remember, all work and no play can lead to burnout and increased stress – a recipe for unhappiness and disaster. With that said, be mindful of your workload and what you can personally handle. Don’t take five classes just because your roommate is doing it, if it’s not feasible for you. Consider waiting on the internship or job until you get a better hang of college life if you’re still a freshman or sophomore in college. These simple steps may seem insignificant, but can go a long way in helping you balance work and play. By not over-involving yourself in too many classes and activities, you will have more time for rest, relaxation, and socializing.

Consider Study Abroad

Are you learning a foreign language in college? Studying abroad in a different country is a great way to fully immerse yourself and so much more! Living, eating, breathing, and feeling a new culture is a fun educational experience. Being able to observe a new culture firsthand, and experience a different lifestyle (music, art, food, nightlife, theatre) is something that you won’t be able to get in a classroom setting. With that said, consider spending a semester abroad and watch yourself return to your home country a whole new person!

Save on Textbooks

Avoid buying textbooks too early. You never know – you may end up dropping a class two weeks into the semester, only to find yourself out a couple hundred bucks in books that you no longer need. Many students these days take advantage of buying and selling online to save money. It’s also smart to speak with students who have already taken the class if possible, as they can provide insight on how important a book is. Sometimes, professors include a book or two in a syllabus, but students hardly use it enough to get their money’s worth.

Bear in mind that the campus bookstore tends to have inflated prices on books, and may not have a friendly return policy. Consider shopping around and selling back online when you’re done with the course – it’s a win-win situation and will save you some cash!

Prioritize Your Health

Though it may seem like common sense, it’s easy to forget that without good health, it’s impossible to thrive in school and work. Put in effort everyday to ensure that you fuel your body with nutritious foods during appropriate meal times, exercise regularly, and take time to unwind. Some great ways to unwind include taking a warm bath at home and getting fresh air while going on a long walk outside.

Set Realistic Goals

Once you have your class schedule down, it’s time to set reasonable goals that you wish to achieve for each class. What grade are you striving for realistically? How will you achieve this? When will you finish your assignments?

If you have an internship this semester, you may want to think about what you want to take away from it, how you’re going to do that, and who you’re going to connect with to achieve your goals.

In addition to academic and professional goals, you may also make other personal goals that help you maintain sanity and well-being during your college years. For example, some students set personal fitness goals to achieve at the gym after school hours. This is a great way to balance work and personal well-being!

Eliminate Distractions

With so much going on around us these days and media being so easily accessible on our phones and computers, it’s crucial to take measures to eliminate these distractions when it’s time to get work done. It’s easy to spend an hour scrolling through social media feeds when you could get a lot of homework done in that time. If you are the type to reach for your phone without much thought, you may want to consider turning it off all together and putting it somewhere inconvenient so that you can power through your to-do list first.

If you live in a busy and noisy dorm room or apartment, it can be hard to focus on the task at hand. Libraries and coffee shops are alternative study spots that many college students love!

Final Thoughts

Heading off to college for the first time can feel intimidating, yet exciting. It’s a totally new experience for most 18-year-olds! Many live away from home for the first time ever, and will have to face college-level courses and life challenges head-on without close parental guidance. Keep these ten tips in mind to help you get started on the right foot!