Another school term is coming to an end. Finals, exams, due papers – they are all keeping us on our toes and wide awake at night. But don’t worry! Soon, the studying will be over, and hopefully your grades will reflect the hard work you put in. Just keep your fingers crossed. And if it’s your final year, graduation is just around the corner!
But what now?
For some people, it’s a top priority to go get working and earn their own money. Others decide to go to college. For those latter ones, we have some great tips on how to make your years in college the best ones.
Get Ready For College
Before you leave your parents house for a dorm room or your very own apartment, you should be aware that some things will never be like before. You are now responsible for your own grocery shopping, cleaning up, doing your laundry, paying rent and tuition… For some of us, college was the first time we had to cook for ourselves or pay our first bills. Figuring out how a washing machine or dryer work suddenly become important tasks. Our tip: prepare!
While you are still living with your parents, ask them anything you need to know. How does the washing machine work? How do you know how many groceries to buy so stuff wont go bad? How do you change a light bulb or mount a shelf? Your parents have been doing these things for years. Benefit from their experience and get some valuable advice face to face instead of calling them in the middle of the night, all desperate and with your nerves wrecked.
Once you come into a situation where you have to fix something in your room or cook for your roommates, you will be thankful for the tips and tricks mom and dad have given you.
Once You’re There…
… make the very best of everything! At a college or university, you will have a variety of facilities and organisations at hand that can and will help you to find your way around. The counselling center is not just a nice desk in one of the buildings, it’s actually there to be used by you. Some of these services may become essential to you, others may not have to be used. However, if in doubt, try to utilize every resource you can get! You are not the first student with this particular problem and, once more, you can benefit from other people’s experience.
Depending on your campus or the city you study in, you can find the following services or facilities:
- Study & reading center
- Counseling center
- Study guides
- Example schedules
- Orientation courses & tours
- Teachers, professors, help staff & older students
- Groups, clubs & organizations
- Sport facilities
- Different annual or irregular exhibitions
From my own experience, I can assure you that priorities will also change. Sure, college life is fun, and it was for me, but I found my priority shifting towards excelling in my classes and courses as well. School always felt like an obligation, something I was rather forced to do. College is, in hopefully most cases, something you personally decided to do. Studying, reading and attending important classes thus suddenly moves up the list of priorities. And the key to reconcile is to be and stay organized!
The latter may be a bit harder than you anticipate in the first moment, and it’s hard to keep track of different schedules when – especially as a freshman – distractions and new things await at every corner. Try your best to stay organized though and it will save you a lot stress during finals or when a due date of a term paper is approaching. I always found the following rule of thumb very helpful when planning my day or study sessions:
The same amount of time spent in class should be put into rehash and revision.
This includes going through lecture notes, reading the necessary literature and preparing small tasks given in the single courses.
Also read Study Hard For The Finals
Take Your Time
Just because you went to college doesn’t mean that you can’t work on the side. Internships and side jobs are a great way to already explore the field you once want to work in – or to simply earn some money. However, there is a time for everything. Don’t try to cram everything into your first semester or trimester or even year. College is a new experience and you need time to adjust to the new environment as well as to living on your own.
While we highly encourage you to join clubs, organizations or societies in your freshman year to get in contact with people and feel more at home (as well as gaining more resources for advice and answers), an internship or side job should find their place in your second semester. Especially internships are opportunities you should grasp whenever you get the opportunity, but we still advise you to wait at least one semester to get involved in even more work. You have to figure out how to balance your workload first.
Being a student comes with one big financial perk: student discount. Wherever you can, make use of this discount. Paying for your rent and tuition will take up a lot of your budget already so you shouldn’t feel shy to use the discount. It was established for you because we know you have less or almost no money as a student, so make the best of it!
Sadly, such a discount can not be applied to text books. Remember when text books were free in high school? Well, those times are gone. Luckily, there are some ways to get your hands on cheaper, used versions, or even free copies. Many universities and colleges hold text book exchanges, either on campus or via Facebook and other groups. There, you can buy used copies from students that don’t need their text books anymore.
We have also gathered a list with links from all over the web where you can buy cheap text books or download PDF or even e-book versions. Take me to the list!
Relax & Explore
Looking back, I can say that being a university student has been the best time of my life, so far. You are able to still enjoy your freedom while starting to adapt to the adult life. Sure, you have mandatory courses and term papers to write, but especially considering vacations, you have as much free and sparse time as you won’t have for a long time. Use this time! Do things you always wanted to do. Do you have a bucket list? Now is the time to tick some of the items.
One thing you should do in any case if you have the opportunity is to take a semester abroad. What better excuse could you ever get to not only visit another country, but actually live there? Europe, Asia, other parts of America, Australia, Africa… Many universities and colleges have a cooperation with other educational institutes all over the world. Study abroad or spend an internship in another country.
Between it all, however, do not forget to take time for yourself. Especially in stressful exam periods or when several papers and assignments are due at once again, you need to give your body some rest from a painfully pulled all-nighter.