1. No Major? No Problem
Your major as an entering college freshman doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. In fact, in most cases it doesn’t lock you in to anything. If you are unsure of what you want to major in as a freshman, it’s OK—most college students will change their major at least once. You can use your freshman year as a time to explore, taking classes in subjects you never thought about studying before to help you hone in on what you want to do with your life. Look at college as an opportunity to expand your knowledge and build upon your interests.
2. Your Advisor is an Important Resource
Your school will provide you with a catalog of courses offered, the prerequisites and requirements needed for each class and major, and requirements you must satisfy in order to graduate. If you have a question that goes beyond the catalog, or just need a little guidance, go to your advisor—they can help you with any scheduling or course selection questions you may have.
3. The Truth about Textbooks
There are two simple rules to follow when it comes to textbooks:
- Don’t buy your textbooks too early.
- Save money by buying and selling online (or, buy used books at your campus bookstore).
Many schools claim that you are required to buy all of the textbooks assigned on the syllabus each semester. However, just because it’s written on paper doesn’t mean that you’re actually going to use it enough to get your money’s worth. Every student learns differently and every professor teaches differently. If you can, talk to other students who have taken a course to see if you will actually need the textbooks, and then decide if you should purchase them.
Also, if you are a poor college student—aren’t college students broke most of the time?—avoid purchasing your textbooks from the campus bookstore. Prices there tend to be on the high side, and when book buy-back time rolls around during exam week, the return on what you originally paid doesn’t always lead to a pretty penny. If you can, purchase your books online and sell them back online too; you’ll find this to be a win-win situation in the end.
4. Campus Involvement Builds Lasting Friendships
Your social life is a huge part of the college experience. Getting involved on campus in clubs, organizations, or athletics will help you meet new people and develop lasting friendships. Enjoy yourself and the friends you spend your time with—even if you’re not doing anything at all. College is about the people you meet, the experiences you go through, and the memories you make.
5. Balancing Work and Play Reduces Stress
Balancing an academic schedule, extracurriculars, athletics, perhaps a job, and on top of all that a social life can be extremely demanding. All work and no play is a sure-fire recipe for unhappiness and will catch up to you in the long run. Learn to balance school work by taking the number of classes you feel comfortable taking on. Don’t over-involve yourself in activities, and if you have to work a part-time job, only work a few flexible hours per week. Keep in mind that you still need to save time in your schedule for rest, relaxation, and socializing.
6. Your Professors are Not the Enemy
Talk to your professors: introduce yourself, ask questions, visit during office hours, and make sure they know your name. Be sincere in showing your efforts in the classroom. Your professors will begin to see that you are trying and your efforts will pay off. As a result, they will be more willing to go out of their way to help you, and you may even be able to use them as references later on.
7. Studying Abroad Brings the Classroom to Life
For students studying abroad, living, breathing, eating, and feeling a new culture is definitely an educational experience. Studying abroad allows you to fully immerse yourself in a foreign language, to observe a new culture firsthand, and to experience new music, art, theater, food, and nightlife. Studying in the actual environment brings the classroom to life.
8. Every Campus Has Safety Hazards
Check with your local police to learn about the areas on and off campus that you should avoid. Learning the areas where the most crime takes place and what types of crime are most common in your college town can help to keep you safe. For an added safety measure, store emergency phone numbers in your cell phone and post them beside the phone in your dorm as well. Also, always be sure to carry identification on you.
9. Internships Increase Your Hiring Power
Do you have an internship? Well, plan on getting one if you don’t already have one. Job recruiters love practical experience, so plan on getting some before you graduate and you should be in great shape for your first job. Internships will not only provide you with practical, real-world experience, but you may even be one step ahead of the game and land a job offer from the company you intern for you before you even graduate.
10. Avoiding Debt is Simple
A simply monthly budget will prevent you from overspending and will make paying the bills much easier. Allow yourself a weekly allowance for entertainment purposes and stick to it. Only use a credit card for emergencies, don’t ever use it for entertainment. Sticking to your budget and remembering that little things add up fast will help to keep you debt free.