I graduated from college in May of this year (about five months ago). It’s a privilege to have received higher education, and I am incredibly grateful for having that opportunity as it aligns with my career goals. Sometimes, I’ll reminisce on my college years and think about the good times, the bad times, the more good times. I traveled across the country for college, and I had to learn the basics of layering. We’re keeping these tips as general and applicable as possible. Please continue reading for some things I would tell myself before college with all of this in mind.
1. If you decide against purchasing a dining plan, make sure you’re cooking instead. It seems obvious, but quick story-time: around the time my junior year came, my friends and I decided not to get a dining plan to save $$$ and cook our meals instead. And they did. But I did not. I found myself just eating whatever I came across while on campus (Jamba Juice, Pinkberry, Hot Cheetos, you name it). At the time, I wasn’t thinking about how toxic those foods are for your body and brain or even that I was probably spending more than if I had a dining plan or had I meal-prepped and cooked at home for the week #SMH. Pro tip: Replace the occasional Starbucks with a delicious whipped coffee.
2. Don’t buy textbooks before your first day of classes. I did not know about this during my freshman year, probably even in my sophomore year. Holding off on buying textbooks is the best college tip for a few reasons:
- You save yourself from having to go back to the bookstore to return a book.
- You might find it for a lower price on Amazon.com.
- Or online as a free PDF (seriously).
- You may talk to someone whose taken the class before and admits they’ve never used the book.
- Your professor might say it’s optional.
So wait on it.
3. Get Chegg. A college tip for the more academically inclined. You can either buy a subscription yourself or share an account with a friend to split the cost. My major was Neuroscience, so Chegg was extremely helpful in navigating and explaining some science concepts on homework assignments and reviewing slides. Even if your major is not STEM, chances are you’ll have to take the necessary prerequisites that include math, science, and a language. Chegg is there to help you with most (if not all) of these subjects! Both your understanding and your grades will increase, so trust me; you will not regret this!
4. Don’t slack off during your freshman or sophomore year (or any year for that matter). This sort of builds off my previous tip (getting a Chegg account). During my first year of college, my priorities weren’t straight. I’ll admit this. I wanted to socialize as much as I could, “go out” with my friends, and scope out the city of Boston. Although I did okay in my classes for the first two years, I significantly improved in the last two. Unfortunately, the improvement was not enough for me to get Cum Laude on my diploma (I was .01 point away!!!) If I could go back with the knowledge I have now, I would have made studying the priority starting the first day. Please don’t make the same mistake I did!
5. Invest time and money into decorating your dorm. This is a college tip not just for the artsy types. At first, the raw dorm room may resemble a jail cell. This is normal. But don’t forget that it is your space to wind-down, wake-up, laugh, cry, hang out with friends, call home, whatever. You’ll want to do all that while enjoying the space you’re in. So definitely decorate this jail cell into precisely what you’re wanting! If you have a roommate, you guys can also coordinate amenities before move-in day and some design aspects if you guys want to! Also, don’t forget to check out affordable places like Dollar Tree or the 99 Cents Only stores.
6. Move your body. Freshman 15 is not just a funny hashtag. It’s real. And from personal experience: too much dining hall apple crisp + lack of exercise = before you know it, definitely a few (20!!!!) pounds. So, for my sophomore year, I made it a point to eat less apple crisp and sweets and go to the gym more. Lo and behold: I shed those twenty pounds without really even noticing! Again, please don’t do what I did. The healthiest college tip on this page is just going to the university’s or local gym a few times a week and eating a balanced diet from day 1.
7. Use RateMyProfessor when choosing your classes. A wise woman once said, ‘the difference between a great class and a boring class is not the content – it’s the professor.” This statement could not be more accurate. This website provides student reviews for a bunch of professors at different universities. It is a platform that allows you to leave your review after the term for other students’ benefit as well!
8. Call home. Everyone misses you. Calling your family and old friends will take barely any of your time and is hugely appreciated. Do it, even if you feel overwhelmed / you don’t want to.
9. Be smart when going out. If you are a woman whose set on getting a fake ID, make sure it’s a good one. If you are a man who charged on getting a fake ID, please don’t. Unfortunately, the world favors women when it comes to bouncers, clubs, and underage drinking. Places are waaaaaaaay more strict towards dudes when it comes to fake IDs and leniency. If you get caught, you risk having a criminal offense on your school record and will need to report it to any graduate program or job you apply to. So again, be smart and think twice then twice more before getting a fake ID and handing it to anyone.
Most importantly, be present, safe, have fun, and enjoy these few years. They really do fly by!