20 Tips Every Freshman Needs to Know to Survive College

20 Tips Every Freshman Needs to Know to Survive College


By Josie Parker

Are you trying to survive your first semester of college? Here are 20 tips and life hacks that just might help keep you breathing:

1. No time for breakfast? Make scrambled eggs in a mug!

You might be surprised by the things you can make a microwave. To make scrambled eggs, first spray the mug with nonstick cooking spray, then crack an egg into the mug. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, then heat again for another 30 seconds. Once it is cooked thoroughly, you’re out the door to class!

2. Buying textbooks may cost you hundreds–try renting

There are many different companies, like Chegg, which allow students to search for their much-needed books and rent them for the semester at much lower costs.

3. Visit campus before classes begin

Even if you’ve already enrolled and taken a tour, another practice round can’t hurt. If you aren’t too far from campus, use the opportunity to find your way around before classes begin. Take a day to get to know the buildings and where your classrooms are located. Maybe you will avoid getting completely lost on the way to Algebra l on the first day of the semester.

4. Register for classes early

It’s May and registration isn’t due for two more months. Save yourself a little stress and register for your classes early. General courses fill up quickly (thanks to all the other freshmen that exercised this tip)!

5. Understand the requirements for each course and the due dates

If this means writing it down in a planner, or maybe a method of your own, make sure you are acquainted with each of your courses’ requirements and due dates. Yes, your syllabus is useful–even after the first day of class!

6. Use free study resources

If you ever find yourself struggling in a course, seek out different study resources that are offered. Many courses offer free study labs or tutors for students interested in collaboration. Your college’s library can often provide additional resources.

7. Meet with Career Services

Whether you are a freshman or senior in college, Career Services can be a great resource. College only lasts for a few years while Career Services offers a variety of benefits, like tips on how to write a great resume, which will help prepare you for graduation.

8. Try a speech class

Even if you aren’t required to take a speech course, public speaking is a vital skill you can master before graduation.

9. Find a peer mentor

A peer mentor is someone your age (or thereabouts) who has experienced something you haven’t. Maybe it’s an older classmate or friend–the important part is it’s someone to lean on or look to when you need help.

10. Make goals at the start of every semester

Maybe you have fitness goals or academic goals. Write down five attainable yet challenging goals you want to complete by the end of the semester, and keep them in a place where you’ll notice them daily. This will help keep you motivated during the semester.

11. Make a friend in class

Having a friend or two in each class might save you a lot of frustration later in the semester. Sit by someone and try and get to know them every once in awhile. If you ever have a question or miss a lecture, you’ll have someone to reach out to.

12. Keep familiar things around to help with homesickness

Moving to college can be hard. You might often miss home, and that’s normal. Keep familiar momentos around to adjust to living somewhere new. Try to do similar activities you liked to do at home. If you normally rode bike when you were home, squeeze in a bike ride around campus sometimes.

13. Try a monthly budget

While this might seem extensive, creating a monthly budget doesn’t need to be complicated. Maybe you simply want to spend less than $30 per month eating out. Set a couple budgeting goals to help balance your finances.

14. Avoid study cram sessions

It’s going to happen one night–it’s the evening before your first exam in General Biology. You’re flipping through your notes and it feels like you’re trying to read a foreign language. Cram study sessions are not fun. For one, you barely sleep and arrive to the exam the next morning exhausted. Plus, your short-term memory stores very limited information. Avoid study cram sessions by setting aside five minutes of review time each week to keep the material fresh in your mind.

15. Start thinking about an internship

Get a head start! While it’s not completely necessary that you complete an internship your first year of college–or even your second year–it’s valuable to start thinking about your career interests. An internship could be one of the most important pieces to landing a job after graduation. Don’t wait until senior year to start a little research or thinking about what you want to do.

16. Use a planner

Do yourself a favor and start a planner before classes begin. Bring it to class everyday so that you are sure to use it. Take all of your syllabi and record every due date ahead of time. Write down your work schedule, or anything else you need to remember! Plum Paper student planners are specifically designed for college students with heavy course loads–and you can customize it!

17. Follow your college’s social media accounts

This is one of the best ways to stay updated with what’s happening on or around campus. If you haven’t yet, follow any of your college’s social media accounts. It can also be a great way to stay connected to your fellow classmates and alumni.

18. Ride a bike

Save time and gas money, and use a bike to get around campus! A skateboard or, if you want to look even cooler, a Razor scooter works, too.

19. Don’t overpack

When I was a freshman in college, I wore about half the clothes I brought with me and used even less of the items I packed into my dorm. Bring the essentials. Leave the clothing you don’t wear regularly.

20. The perfect power nap

College students love naps. Try and avoid two or three hour naps, or really anything over 20 minutes. Ideally, 20 minutes of light sleep will leave you feeling refreshed after waking. Anything longer than 30 minutes and your body falls into deep sleep stages, which is why you might wake up feeling groggy or even more tired.