From the time you arrive on campus to the day you graduate, college life can be a real whirlwind. Studying, socializing, working, developing good personal habits, setting goals, and keeping your health and money on track can be a real challenge. Add to this the fact that many students are experiencing life on their own for the first time, and stress is inevitable.
The best way to mitigate this is to find as many ways as you can to make your life just a bit easier. The following are fifteen tips that you can implement in your life to reduce stress and enjoy college life just a bit more.
Take Advantage of Easy Classes to Increase Your GPA
During your first couple of semesters, you’ll take several easy classes. These will either rehash what you learned in high school, e.g. Bio 101 or Eng 101, or they’ll be introductory classes. Don’t slack off on these easy classes. Do all of the assignments, ace the tests, and earn those easy A’s. Later, when you’re struggling to get a C in a tough class, you’ll be glad you did.
Never Study in Bed
Yes, it’s comfy and tempting. The problem is that if your brain begins to associate your bed with studying, watching television, surfing the net, or even hanging out with friends, it will stop associating it with sleep. This can lead to sleepless nights and toss and turn.
Use Mint to Keep Your Money on Track
The beginning of college is also the beginning of financial independence for many students. Even if you’re receiving financial help from your parents, you’re still responsible for tracking your spending and sticking to a budget. Mint is a free app that you can use to track spending, pay bills, and keep your bank accounts in the black.
This is a great time to pick up important money management skills. By developing good habits right now, you are ensuring that you are able to deal with your finances no matter what comes your way in the future.
Learn The Ins and Outs of Your Local Public Transit System
There are some schools that still don’t allow underclassmen to bring cars. Even if you can bring a car to school, it might not be cost-effective. Parking fees, gas, and other expenses really do add up. There’s also the environmental factor of driving yourself vs. using public transportation.
Look into buying a metro pass (or whatever they call it in your area). As a student, you might qualify for a discount rate. Then, grab some maps and schedules. You’ll save money. In fact, in some cities, students can ride for free after major campus events. Even better, you can study while someone else does the driving.
Get a Secure Visa or Mastercard to Build Credit Not Debt
If you’re like most students, you probably received your first credit card solicitation when you were still in high school. Hopefully, you avoided that temptation. Too many college students get into real trouble with credit card debt.
On the other hand, the only way to build a good credit rating is to use credit. One way to solve this dilemma is to sign up for a secure credit card. These aren’t debit or gift cards. They are credit cards that you secure with a cash deposit. You use them just as you would a regular credit card, and pay the balance each month. The benefit of doing this is that your responsible use is reported to the credit bureaus each month, and your credit score goes up accordingly.
Save Money on Fees And Use The Campus Gym For Free
If you’ve decided to join a gym, congratulations! College life is full of fun but unhealthy temptations. This is a great way to stay or get into shape. Just do a bit of research before you sign any contracts.
If you want extra perks such as personal training, a juice bar, or group classes, then, by all means, look for a gym that offers those things. Just be prepared to pay for it. On the other hand, if you just want a place to some basic cardio and strength training, check out the facilities on campus. They probably have more than you need.
Eat at Home Whenever Possible
Stopping at the gas station for a bag of chips, running through the drive-through, ending a late night at the local diner; All of these things can add up to big expenses at the end of the month. Do yourself a favor. Learn to grocery shop, and learn to cook.
No oven or stove? Try investing in a crockpot. If that’s not an option, stick with cereal, oatmeal, fruits and vegetables, sandwiches, salads, and wraps. Eat microwave popcorn for a salty snack and sugar-free pudding for something sweet. You’ll have your food budget in no time.
Don’t Wait to Get Academic Help
When you’re struggling academically, it doesn’t take long to go from ‘somewhat behind’ to ‘hopelessly behind’. This is why it’s so important to reach out for help as soon as you know something is off. If you get too far off track, you’ll struggle for the rest of the semester.
If you need help, start with your professor. Then, progress to your student services department to set up some tutoring. One problem many students have is that their writing assignments take up too much time and interfere with studying. Get academic help with those assignments so that you can stay on top of your studies.
Give Each Class Its Own Storage Bin
Those cheap three drawer plastic bins aren’t very useful for storing clothes. However, they are good for keeping papers, notebooks, and other supplies organized. Consider investing in one or two, and dedicating a drawer for each class. This way, all you have to do is grab what you need each day from the appropriate door.
Consider Living in an Academic Dorm
For years, colleges have divided dorms according to lifestyle (married/unmarried, quiet/loud) or gender. Now, many have another option. These are academic dorms where students live with people who are studying what they are.
This can give you the opportunity to live, study, and socialize with people who have similar goals and passions. People who study the same things also tend to have very compatible schedules. This means you’ll be studying, sleeping, and socializing at the same time your dorm mates are.
Download a Safety App
A good safety app provides you with the means to quickly and discretely message people on your contact list if you are in a scary situation. You can also use it to contact the police or campus security. One such app is called Circle of Six.
Check your campus security website. They may have their own safety app or one that is available for free to students. Guys, this advice is for you as well. Staying safe should be everyone’s priority.
Invest in a Quality Backpack
This is more important than you realize. You can spend fifteen dollars once or twice a year for four years and burn through several cheap backpacks. Your other option is to pay sixty dollars once, and have a backpack that you can give to your kids when they start school.
Buy a thick, heavy duty backpack from LL Bean, Lands End, Jansport, or other reputable company. They’re sturdier, comfortable, and better looking.
Sign Up For Rewards And Discount Programs
Take advantage of your status as a college student, and enjoy all of the student discount programs that are available to you. Do a bit of research. You’ll probably find savings on dining out, going to the movies, getting your oil changed, museum passes, transportation, and much more.
Next, check out your local coffee shop, gas station, grocery stores, pharmacies, and electronics retailers. Many have rewards programs or punch cards that you can use for discounts or earn points for free merchandise.
Tackle small health problems before they become big health problems. For example, that slightly cold sensitive tooth could become a swollen abscess if you ignore it. That annoying cough could turn into bronchitis or pneumonia.
Be sure you have copies of your health insurance cards. Know the number of your primary care physician. If you’re sick or injured, head to the college health center and things are taken care of.
Coordinate With Your Roommates Before Move-in Day
Reach out to your roommates before school starts. Find out who owns what, and what each of your plans to bring. You may not need three sets of dishes, two television sets, and three microwave ovens. You can avoid a cluttered dorm room by doing a bit of coordinating.
College life is meant to be academically challenging, socially enjoyable, and to act as the bridge to full independence. If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, try to apply some of the suggestions here. Life just might get a little easier.