Things I Wish I Knew as a College Freshman (Part 2!)

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Hi again! In case you missed it, be sure to check out part 1 of this post! Here are the last five tips I wanted to share with you all. Even if you’re not brand new to college, I hope that these pieces of advice are beneficial.

6. Price out textbooks before buying: Before my first semester in college, I had no clue how to play the textbook game. When I got the textbook list for my classes, instead of just buying them through my college’s bookstore I started to price them out on different websites. However I got freaked out that I would buy the wrong edition or that the books wouldn’t be right, so I decided to buy them through the school after all. Big (expensive) mistake. I swear it’s a crime how much textbooks cost, and after some trial and error, I figured out a system that helps me to get the best prices. I usually check several sites before I purchase any book, but my top two picks are Amazon and Chegg. Amazon is great for buying used books, and Chegg is awesome if you want to rent them. In terms of which option (renting or buying) is a better deal, it totally depends on the book and the class. I really have to price out if it makes more sense to rent textbooks or buy them and try to resell them when I’m done, but I promise both of these options are guaranteed to save you money over your school’s bookstore!

7. Make a budget, and stick to it! Before I went to college, I was always really good about saving money. I started babysitting when I was 12, got my first job at age 15, and worked two jobs through most of high school. I had saved a pretty good amount of money up, so I didn’t really worry about getting a job when I started school. I figured it was more important to focus on getting into a good routine and getting a hang of the whole college thing. Between buying textbooks, trips to the grocery store (I wasn’t a fan of cafeteria food!), dinners out with friends, and other fun outings, it was definitely a shock to see how quickly that money seemed to disappear! It didn’t take me long to figure out that I’d need to come up with some sort of budget to follow. Figure out how much you need to spend on books, gas/parking permits if you have a car, lab fees, and other necessary finances BEFORE you figure out what you can afford to spend on groceries and social stuff. Especially if you’re not working, going shopping every week or having the newest and best gadgets of everything isn’t realistic. Budgets can be annoying, but sticking to one will save you a lot of financial related stress.

8. Don’t procrastinate: Ah, good ol’ procrastination. I had a long-term relationship with procrastination, but it was definitely a love/hate one. Not that procrastination is a new concept when you get to college, but it’s frequently a pretty tempting one. Here’s my tip to you: avoid procrastination at all costs! I can’t tell you how many times I told myself, “I’ll just relax/watch TV/sleep for a little bit, and then get to my homework later.” More times than not I’d come up with another excuse, and another to put it off even further before I had no choice but to get it done. I’d almost always get whatever I was trying to do done, but dealing with a time crunch can be extra stressful. Budgeting your time out and staying on top of assignments as you get them will save you a lot of stress in the end, I guarantee it. On top of that, instead of trying to relax but knowing you’ll have to do an assignment later, you can get it done first and relax guilt-free afterwards. I’m telling you, this is a much better system!

9. Be proactive about managing stress: I have some unfortunate news for you: college will be stressful; it’s pretty much inevitable. It’s a lot of fun most of the time, but stress is just a natural part of it. Figuring out different ways to manage this stress is very important (eat right, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, blah blah blah), but learning to be proactive about managing it is even better. Using a planner or agenda to plan my weeks out in advance gives me a really good idea of what I’ll have to do, so I can usually tell which weeks will be more stressful than others. If this is the case I’ll maybe say no to more social activities than usual, and try to make sure I have some extra me time (even if it’s just taking the time to nap!). This won’t get rid of all of the stress in your life, but it might ease the impact of some of it.

10. Always back up your files! This tip is non-negotiable, and will save your butt if you’re good about doing it. Why do I suggest this? Let’s just say I’ve pulled a few too many all-nighters rewriting papers and assignments that got lost due to technological failures. First things first, make sure you save your work as you go no matter what. My computer supposedly has auto-save, but it’s still managed to fail me on multiple accounts. On top of this, I would recommend saving your work (especially if it’s an important assignment) in at least one other place. I had used a USB Flash Drive for years, but last year also invested in an external hard drive to back up the really important stuff. Even more recently I discovered Dropbox, which is amazing. You can save your what you’re working on to Dropbox and they will automatically show up on all your computers, phones, iPads, and even on the Dropbox website; this lets you access your work from anywhere. It’s also great for group projects, as you can share assignments or notes with other people! Everyone is bound to lose an assignment or two at some point in their academic career (it’s practically a rite of passage), but taking these steps to back up your work will decrease the likelihood of it!

Well, those are the top tips I have to anyone starting out in college! Hopefully they will be helpful to some of you!

xo,

Lauren

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