24 Essential Tips And Tricks To Survive (And Thrive) In College

24 Essential Tips And Tricks To Survive (And Thrive) In College

A step up from Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide; we’re talking college, people.


No need to fear, the college survival guide is here! If you abide by these suggestions, it’ll make these four years (hopefully only four) a whole lot easier. We get it, I get it, everyone gets it; college is no joke and a helpful guide ought to be necessary to aid students in surviving. Here it is!

1. Master the art of napping.

Sleep-deprived students flock pretty much every school’s campus grounds. Good thing falling asleep anytime and anywhere is socially accepted in the college world. Some snooze spots include the library, outside on the grass, at Starbucks, and maybe even empty classrooms if you’re a rebel.

2. Prep your meals.

You’re broke. You have no time. Most importantly, you’re hungry. Don’t spend money on unhealthy overpriced campus food, MEAL PREP! Designate one day of the week (a lazy Sunday, perhaps) and just prepare a bunch of meals in bulk. Pop them into Tupperware and there you have it: grab ‘n go, premade meals. Not only will this give your wallet a break, but also make you a better chef.

3. Avoid the college student 15.

The term “Freshman 15” is far too selective and implies upper-classman aren’t susceptible to gaining college weight when they most definitely are. A few red solo cups at a party can have quite the effect on your body in the long run. Stay on top of your diet, your drinking habits, and get your butt to the gym.

4. Make friends with professors.

Many college students view their professor as some alienated creature; a super genius who can’t be approached about anything other than class material. Your professors are people, just like you (surprise, huh), and they want to form bonds with their students. Don’t be shy, say hi! Talk to them about lectures you find interesting, ask questions, gain a deeper understanding of the course. Not only will this help your grade, but it will also make your professor more likely to bump up a crappy test score, offer you extra credit, or even write you a killer letter of recommendation. You’ll thank me when that 89% becomes a 90%.

5. Get a calendar.

Caution: deadlines on the syllabus are closer than they appear. There’s nothing worse than being at a party and suddenly realizing you have an assignment due at midnight…

6. Make daily phone calls to home.

Just because you're away at college doesn’t mean you should be out of the loop of things back home. Also, your family and friends want to talk to you and hear how you’re doing. Maintain these valuable relationships.

7. Learn party tricks.

I know this killer card trick and I love fooling people with it at parties (especially when they’re drunk). Learn a weird trick and show it off! It’s fun to awe people by doing something impressive like reciting every single word to a rap song or performing a wild pong move.

8. Become a “coupon mom.”

I like discounts and free stuff, and I’m sure you do too. Coupon hunting can take some time, but remember: time is money.

9. Join clubs.

Don’t be that uninvolved kid on campus- join something! It looks great on resumes/applications and you’ll probably meet some pretty cool students.

10. Find an awesome Netflix series.

There's nothing in the world better than coming home after a long day of classes and watching the next episode (more like season, am I right?) of your favorite Netflix series. This will keep you sane, especially when boredom calls.

11. Carry a travel “shower kit.”

We get it, sometimes you’re running around campus on a hot day, you eat something garlic-ridden, or you just wake up late and don’t have time to shower…or brush your teeth…or even change out of pajamas. Get yourself some travel-sized deodorant, body spray, and gum. At least create the illusion you practice good hygiene 24/7…

12. Get a water bottle.

Stop buying plastic water bottles and save the environment! Carry around your own reusable water bottle and refill it throughout the day. It’s also fun to decorate them with stickers.

13. Take trips to farmer’s markets.

Buying fresh produce from farmer’s markets won’t only save you money, but you also contribute to local farms in the face of big corporate competition.

14. Find your energizer.

Whether it be coffee, tea, hitting the gym; find something that can energize you even on the sleepiest of days (especially after those dreadful all-nighters during finals week).

15. Backup everything.

If all your notes, documents, etc. are stored on your laptop, you may be out luck if it's stolen, breaks, or gets lost. Always back up your files, whether it be by emailing yourself everything important or downloading a storage app like Dropbox.

16. Write, don’t type.

According to Scientific American article by Cindi May, "A Learning Secret: Don't Take Notes with a Laptop," research by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer showed that students who wrote out notes opposed to those who typed them learned more in class. Close your computer and pick up a pencil!

17. Purchase sweatpants.

They're basically socially acceptable pajamas.

18. Utilize Google Docs.

Google Docs SAVES LIFES! People are on different schedules so it's often difficult to find a time and place for a big study group that everyone can actually attend to. Google Docs is a virtual "study group" where students can collaborate and share class material to study for exams without the hassle of meeting up in person.

19. Don’t rent or buy textbooks.

I'm serious, don't do it. There are plenty of ways to get textbooks that are much cheaper. Post on your college's Facebook page, ask upperclassmen that have already taken the class, or utilize free ebook trials. Sometimes you can even check out textbooks from libraries or get them from reserves for 2-hour usage.

20. Start a frequent flyers account.

This is especially useful for students who go to college far from home. Airfare is expensive, so why not rack up some frequent flyer miles and get free flights? Remember: you're broke.

21. Seek out free stuff.

College: land of the free (stuff). There are always people tabling on campus and they more than likely have free stuff to give out such as free coffee, free pens, free t-shirts, etc. It's common with groups who are trying to promote themselves.

22. Download a food delivery app.

Pizza delivery is overrated and pretty limiting, especially if you're lactose intolerant or vegan or simply just sick of pizza. Spice things up and download a food delivery app such as Postmates, Grubhub, or Ubereats. They have a wonderful variety of food to order from when you're lazy and just want to dine in. Also, first-time users often get a discount of some sort!

23. Beware of germs.

Wash your hands often, carry around hand sanitizer, familiarize yourself with the campus doctor, and stay away from sneezing students! Being sick in college sucks and no one wants to sit next to the annoying "class cougher."

24. Enjoy thyself.

College marks the final years before hacing to snap out of party mode and grow up. Rumor has it adulting isn't very fun, so live up to the college life as much as possible before it's too late. I guarantee you're going to miss it.

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