Graduation is right around the corner, and a lot of you are finalizing your decisions for your college or university--some of you have already made that choice! Only summer now lies between you and your new college life and that can feel like a lot of pressure! So whether you’re newly accepted or a returning student still struggling to figure out the ropes, here are some tips, tricks and hacks that every college kid needs to know before embracing adult-life!
1. Pack light
Everyone makes the same mistake moving into their new dorm or apartment by bringing everything that we own. If you still have a room at your parent’s place, leave most of that stuff behind. You’ll be surprised how little you actually wear that graduation dress or watch that DVD collection. Stick to the essentials.
2. Get a rice cooker
This is a must particularly if you’re attending a city college or university that might dorm students in older buildings. A lot of dorms have bans against microwaves, hot plates and anything else that doesn’t have an automatic “shut-off” feature. If that’s the case, a rice cooker is going to be your new best friend. Anything you can make in a pot or pan can be made in a rice cooker--pasta, veggie burgers, stir fry, you name it. They can even double as a humidifier if you leave a pot of water boiling in it with the steamer cover on!
3. Buy an electric kettle
You don’t have to be a tea-enthusiast to invest in an electric kettle. It’s a smart purchase for those long, exhausting nights or early mornings when you don’t have the energy to go down to the food court or cook food for yourself. A little hot water added to some ramen, oatmeal or instant mac might not be the healthiest of choices, but is a worthy substitute if you just need something fast.
4. Get a ramekin
Invest in a covered ramekin. Corningware makes them, and you can probably find one at Target and Sears stores. Not only are they great for carrying things like soup, pasta or oatmeal, if you also own an electric kettle, you can use the ramekin to make ramen packets into instant ramen! Just break up the ramen brick into the ramekin, pour boiling water over and seal the cover. In 2-3 minutes, the noodles will have cooked!
5. Try a lofted bed
If the beds in your dorm don’t already come lofted, consider purchasing bed risers. When you’re living in a tight space--which you undoubtedly are, whether you’re crashing in an apartment or a dormitory--any extra storage space you can scrounge up is essential. Lofting your bed helps maximize the space you can use to store things beneath it.
6. You'll want slippers
Flip flops will work as well. These are crucial if you’re living in a dorm with communal spaces like bathrooms or kitchens, but still just as important for anyone living in buildings with other people. Buy yourself a cheap pair and use them to walk around the dorm or even just to the recycling and garbage disposal.
7. And also a shower caddy
If you’re going to be using a communal bathroom with the rest your dormitory, buy two--one for the shower and one for everything else. I purchased a shower caddy for school and wound up never using it to tote around shampoo, but instead utilized it for everything from carrying cooking ingredients to the kitchen, a TV dinner tray, to a shelf I hung off a bed post when I had a lofted bunk bed.
8. Double up laundry
If you have laundry on campus, chances are your school is using industrial washers and dryers. Typically, industrial dryers are always a little bit bigger than washing machines, so if that’s also the case for you, save on laundry money by washing two loads of clothes at once and putting both loads into the dryer. Two loads for the price of one!
9. Moderate caffeine
When you’re on deadline--or way behind--coffee or energy drinks may become the one thing that’s keeping you afloat, but eventually, we begin to build up a tolerance to caffeine, and when that begins to happen, we have to double or triple our consumption just to get the basic effect. Plus, we start to get all sorts of side effects like insomnia or anxiety. If you begin to notice these things, take a caffeine break whenever you can afford it. Go a few days, or a week, on nothing stronger than tea. Your body will thank you, and the next time you really need that cup of coffee, it will give you the full buzz you need.
10. Use ratemyprofessor.com
Always. Use. Ratemyprofessor. Whether you’re a freshman or a graduate student, this site is a life-saver. You’re in college now and there’s no reason for you to suffer through an unbearable professor when you could have had the choice. Don’t get me wrong, despite looking up all your professor’s ratings before registering for classes, you still might get some bad eggs, but if that’s the case, all you have to do is login and leave your own review, warning fellow students away.
11. Get school freebies
Go to school events, especially freshman orientation, if you’re a newbie. Not only are these great events to meet new people or hang out with friends, but typically a lot of school events try to entice students to show up with freebies--everything from pizza to water bottles, t-shirts, or free art supplies. I own some school freebies that I still use to this day.
12. Purchase earplugs
You never know. Even if you are so lucky as to have a single room or an apartment all to yourself, no matter where you live, you’re going to have neighbors and if it’s a college campus, you can bet that they are going to be noisy neighbors. It helps to have headphones you can sleep with if you like to drown out the commotion with music, but nothing works quite so well as heading over to your hardware store and purchasing yourself a pack of construction ear plugs.Going to college for the first time is always going to be a stressful and exciting experience, but being just a little bit prepared for the chaos that is young adult-life will make the transition go that much smoother. Enjoy it! You have some amazing years ahead of you.