One minute, you step through your dorm’s threshold as a child with your parents and hundred of moving boxes. The next minute (or at least, it only feels like a minute goes by), and you emerge an adult at the end of your first semester of college with a lot of (physical and mental) scratches and bruises to prove it. Those are at least worth something: we can warn incoming freshmen of what we did to survive.
Here are 10 college life lessons that will get you through your first semester in one piece.
1. Budget your time
This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give, one that I still haven’t mastered to this day. Even if it’s just setting aside one hour to look over the notes from class or scheduling a break in between classes to go over your homework. You can always find something going on in the dorms or something better to do, but school should be your priority. You are currently paying thousands of dollars for that education after all.
2. Don’t go out every day of the week
Or even most days of the week. Try to set a day or two that you can go out and have fun with friends, but don’t let it take over your life. Sometimes, you happen to have a late class on Monday, so you go out Sunday, and then it’s the same on Wednesday, so why not throw Tuesday in as well, and of course you’re going out on Thursday because Thursday is Friday, and you’re going out on Friday because Friday is Saturday, and Saturday is still Saturday and then all of a sudden you are the one who is constantly drunk, can’t remember what day it is and hasn’t been to class in two weeks. Don’t be that person.
3. Carry Purell like it’s your lifeline
Remember how in high school there was always a germophobe that you always felt kind of sorry for? The one that had the hand sanitizer clipped to their backpack and wouldn’t shake anyone’s hand? In college, your goal is to be that person. Everyone is constantly sick. Also, everyone shares everything. If one person gets sick, at least five other people will be within the week. Then you still have to go to class because your parents can’t make a call and excuse you like they used to. And your professors will not understand why you couldn’t complete that paper and the 20 math problems and the psychology quiz over the weekend even if you were puking your guts out. Carry the Purell.
4. Eat greens and proteins
It might seem like a fun idea to eat anything you want because your parents can’t tell you not to live off of pasta and soft serve ice cream anymore, but that fun won’t last. You will eventually feel horrible and probably get sick. Your body needs proteins and vegetables to function properly. Eat a vegetable or something that grows from a plant. Get the meat option or even just mix some chicken in with your pasta. You will thank me later. Otherwise you will find yourself crying because you haven’t seen a fruit in weeks.
5. Don’t go out to eat all the time
You paid for those dining meal points and you have to use them, regardless of how bland or tasteless the food is. Also, there are a lot of ways you can hack your dining hall food and get the best options, and your bank account will thank you later.
6. Don’t make out with a bunch of random people in the first month
This is a one-way ticket to getting mono and then an unidentified virus. Stick to the people you know and if you’re sick, take some time to recover before going out again. See points two and three.
7. Budget your expenses
You will feel a lot better about yourself if you allot $20 for eating out per month and another for coffee or shopping or whatever. If you don’t at least try to budget your expenses, all of a sudden you will be sad, penniless and in debt.
8. Go to your classes
This should be a given, but a lot of people skip. Or don’t go at all. It’s easy and totally understandable to miss one or two classes because you overslept or had a rough night or can get the notes from a friend in the class, but don’t miss any you don’t have to. No one wants to be the one suddenly and inexplicably failing because you haven’t been to class in two weeks.
9. Get a pocket-wallet for the back of your phone
People hand these out for free on the streets, so you can easily acquire one. Wallets just give you another thing to carry around and can make for quite a hassle. A pocket on the back of your phone suddenly means that you have everything in one place on you all the time. Trust me, this will come in handy at bars and parties when you can’t even tell which limbs are yours.
10. Use money-saving apps for students
I cannot tell you how much money I have saved at Chick-Fil-A just by using Pocket Points, an app that gives you points for having your phone locked during class. You can redeem the points for discounts on food or shopping at a variety of locations throughout campus. Also, Unidays has some incredible discounts for students that are definitely worth checking out.