32 Genius College Tips Every Freshman Should Know

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This post is all about college tips.

college tips

I'm going to be honest with you, I was terrified to go to college. I had no idea what to expect and felt like I didn't know any college tips or how to successfully make it through.

I was the oldest in my family and didn't have an older sister to tell me the do's and dont's of college. I just wanted someone to tell me to do this and don't do that!

I am going to be your 'big sister' and tell you all the best college tips I've learned in the last three years of college. There are some really good ones!

This post will show you the best college tips to know before you start your freshman year.

College Tips: General

1. There is other places to study than just the library.

I am the type of student where I can study in one place for about a week and then I need a major change in pace.

Your school library is a great place to study and somewhere you will be often, but don't forget all the study spots at the other buildings at your college.

At my school, we have a building that was just built and has study rooms in it. It is so much brighter and cleaner than the library and has become my go-to study spot.

2. Get a backpack that is LARGE.

Seriously, you will be carrying your whole life in that backpack AROUND campus.

Get a backpack that is large enough to fit all your books (I made this mistake freshman year). 

I highly recommend a North Face backpack (this is the one I have). They are a little pricier up front but you will have it all four years (and it's what almost everyone has).

You can find all the best college backpacks here: 22 Most Popular College Backpacks To Buy This Year

3. Go to the school orientations.

My freshman year I went in with the attitude that I was "too cool" for the school orientations they gave at the beginning of the year. Honestly, it's one of my biggest regrets of freshman year.

Just go! When I transferred colleges sophomore year I forced myself to go and I met so many people! You may not become best friends with the people but it will be really nice to see some friendly faces from your group in the first weeks of school.

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4. You can move around your class schedule. 

Every semester I spend at least an hour trying to get the best schedule I can. Most of the time (especially for general classes), there are a few different time slots that you can choose from.

I highly recommend not just going with the first schedule they give you! Make your schedule work for how you do best.

I prefer getting all my classes done in the morning and then having the entire afternoon to work/finish homework so I make my schedule to work for that. I have friends that absolutely hate getting up early and make all their classes fit their sleeping schedule.

Moral of it all, play around with it!

5. Your planner will be your lifeline. 

Your high school teachers are right when they say that your college professors won't remind you a million times about what assignments are due.

Actually, most professors will tell you an assignment once and never remind you about it again. Same for tests and quizzes.

Write everything down in your planner! I usually go through my syllabus and will write all the big stuff down for the whole semester so I never forget anything.

My favorite planner is this Day Designer. I have used it all year and love how it has a to-do list AND a time-blocking place!

6. Sit in the middle of a class.

You don't have to sit in the front of a class (more power to you if you do though) but I wouldn't sit in the back row especially if you are in a huge lecture hall.

Actually paying attention in class will save you hours of time outside class because you won't need to reteach yourself everything.

7. Download the A+ Grades app.

This is a free app where you can put in how much all of your assignments are worth and it tells you what you need to get on each thing to get your desired grade.

It's much nicer to have it done for you than guessing how well you have to do on everything!

8. Make a friend in each class.

The first day of class sit next to someone that looks like could be your friend in the future and just say hi! This will lead to you guys talking more and they can be your friend in the class.

There's nothing worse than not knowing anyone in a class and then getting back to your room and having no idea what is due the next day or how to do something. When you have a friend it makes class way more fun but also gives you someone to work with when you have questions.

And honestly, almost everyone is looking for new friends! This is a big time to be outgoing.

9. Whatever you do, don't procrastinate.

One of the best methods I have put in place for myself is to do assignments within the day or two of receiving it.

This isn't easy in the beginning but once it becomes a habit it makes life so much easier.

I was able to do so many more things with friends or other random things that popped up because I never had assignments that I hadn't started and were due the next day. It is also such a stress relief knowing you don't have to worry about things!

10. You will feel overwhelmed, and that's OKAY!

My family has a joke about me that it is almost a fact that the first week of every semester I will call them saying I am dropping out.

I get SO overwhelmed seeing all the syllabuses for my classes and everything that I am suppose to get done.

It always gets better. Teachers try to scare you the first class of the semester but once the second and third week comes around you figure it out.

You also figure out that most of the questions have answers online and what teachers don't grade hard so you don't need to spend as much time on their homework ;). Basically, keep your head up those first two weeks because you will get the hang of it!

{RELATED POST: Dorm Essentials for 2019}

11. Schedule out your full four years of classes.

This is one of the biggest college tips I am going to tell you.

Once you figure out what major (and minor) you want, plan a four year schedule. 

Make sure you are only taking classes that are required to graduate. I took so many classes freshman year that didn't end up counting for anything AND cost me more money than I would have had too.

Go through your major and school requirements and write down what you will have to take every semester to graduate. I refer to my four year schedule ALL the time to see what I am taking next semester or if I need to switch something around.

This is what I use to plan out my academic calendar...highly recommend saving it to your computer if you're not ready to use it yet. If you're in college, USE IT! It will save your butt.

12. Try to take 6 (or 7) classes a semester.

This is something colleges don't usually promote, but the more classes you take the cheaper you get for them.

For example, at my school to be a full-time student you need to take at least 12 credits a semester. However, after that all the way up to 18 credits, they don't charge you any extra! 

It costs me $1,800 per class I take up to the 12 credits but since I am taking 18 credits per semester it brings the cost down to $1,200 per class (which helps me save hundreds of dollars each semester)!

I also have a lot of friends that took 18 credit semesters and are now graduating early.

Also going to add, taking 6 classes is really not bad. Being organized will have the 18 credits being just as manageable as the 12 credits.

13. Use RateMyProfessor.Com when scheduling classes.

Having a professor people like will make your semester a million times more enjoyable. 

Usually when I schedule my classes I search every professor that is offered for the class I want to take. I will take the one with the best reviews and it has saved me so many times.

You can also get a gist for if they are hard graders and/or give out a ton of homework.

14. Ask people from your high school or older friends about classes.

I always messaged people that were a class above me in high school who went to the college I was going to with questions of classes I was taking, the best dorms, clubs to join, etc.

Even if you don't know someone well they will be super willing to help you and I learned SO much from the people I asked questions too.

14. Do NOT pay full price for textbooks.

...and most of the time, don't buy them from your school bookstore! They rise those prices so dang much.

I almost always rent my books from Amazon OR from Chegg

Whichever one is cheaper but I do love Chegg because they give your product samples in your package with your books! I literally got a Red Bull, Tarte lip gloss, and other random things last time.

PS! Amazon offers a FREE year of prime to students.

College Tips: Dorm Room

15. Keep your door open!

I know, you're probably sick of everyone telling you this.

But, seriously! Do it! It makes such a big difference. I also recommend going room to room the first day and just introduce who you are. Remember, everyone is feeling as nervous as you but be the one that makes people feel more comfortable.

16. If you're going to spend money on anything, buy a mattress pad.

I have never been more grateful for any product in my life until I got a mattress pag for my dorm room.

It made my dorm bed more comfortable than my bed at home! Not kidding. I actually like it so much that I put the twin XL mattress pad on my queen at home.

This the mattress pad I use and LOVE (it's lasted me since freshman year so three years now and plan on using it for many more years haha).

17. Be insanely outgoing.

I am a decently outgoing person but when you go to college you have to be on another level outgoing.

I would ask people I had just met to go get dinner with me and do other random things. It was so intimidating! But, that's how I met majority of my friends.

Everyone is so homesick and misses their high school friends so having someone ask them to do something with them will make their week (seriously).

18. You can make eggs in your dorm room.

For all my egg lovers out there, did you know you can make scrambled eggs in the microwave?

I never knew that before last year and after I found out I made it almost every morning for breakfast. 

It is so fast to make and I felt so much better than eating a waffle or sugary cereal from the cafeteria.

19. Bring medicine (flu, cold, nighttime, tums, Advil, etc).

A sad truth about living in the dorms is that you are bound to get sick...and usually it's in the first month of school.

You are surrounded around so many more germs and people and one cold is a spiral affect through your whole hall.

Having medicine on hand ready to go will make you so much less miserable. No one wants to go walk or Uber to the closest drug store when you feel like you are dying from sickness.

20. A sound machine will save your life.

I use my sound machine EVERY nigh and it saved me in college.

I am one of those people who cannot study/sleep when their is noise around me and the sound machine would block out all noises.

Dorm halls have such thin walls and I can guarantee you that you will use this all the time. One of my girlfriends also uses ear plugs every night if a sound machine isn't your thing.

I have four top products I recommend EVERY freshman needs, and this is one of them.

You can buy the sound machine I have here (I've tried other ones and this one is by far the best and loudest).

{RELATED POST: Dorm Essentials for 2019}

21. Use a mesh shower caddy and not a plastic one.

This is one I learned the hard way. 

A Plastic shower caddy retains water in it so when you go back to your dorm room and set it down after showing, a big puddle will form on the ground. 

A mesh shower caddy drains way more of the water so you don't have any puddles in your room. It's just way easier.

This is the shower caddy I used. But now that I am seeing different ones, this one is much cuter.

22. You can get really good random roommates.

When I transferred into a new school sophomore year, I didn't know anyone well enough at the school so I did random roommate.

I was SO nervous that it was going to be a disaster. I literally got the best roommates ever and loved living with them!!

Make sure you fill out that survey they have you take with what you actually are (aka don't try to be cool and say you go out 4 times a week when you really can only handle going out once). The school does a good job pairing you up with people similar to you. 

Moral of that all, random roommates can actually end up being really good. 

23. Get the earliest move-in time-slot you can.

I made this mistake freshman year and choose a later time-slot thinking that I would be able to spend more time with family before they left.

What actually ended up happening is that I was still setting up my dorm room when everyone else was done and was meeting people. 

24. You don't need your entire wardrobe.

I definitely should have been told this before I left for school.

I literally brought every clothing item I owned. 

1) I had no room and clothes were falling everywhere.

2) I probably wore 1/4 of the clothes.

Bring your summer/fall clothes when you move in and then bring your winter clothes at Thanksgiving.

25. Don't forget to bring cleaning supplies

Your dorm room is going to get messy (even if you are a super clean person). Having the supplies on hand to clean everything you need will make life so much easier.

Plus, I am a huge clean freak so anytime my room was remotely messy I wouldn't be able to focus.

which you can find here: 5 Dorm Room Cleaning Products I Used To Have The Cleanest Dorm on Campus

26. Bring wall-flowers to make your room smell better.

Between the food in the garbage, two-week-old dirty clothes, and whatever other nasty smells are happening in the dorm room, you need a way to erase them.

Wall flowers are the BEST. I even had some of my guy friends buy them off of me because they loved how my room smelled and wanted theirs to smell like it too.

I always buy mine at Bath and Body Works or just Target. 

College Tips: Friends & Socializing

27. Only bring cash to bars.

It is so easy to get carried away at bars and spend so much money.

If you only bring a certain amount of cash, you can't go overboard and wake up the next day having spent $100 (or more).

28. Be nice to EVERYONE.

You will see many people who you consider to be "weird". Be nice to them!!!

Don't judge people by how they look and always ask people how they are. Remember, everyone is feeling as alone as you are!

Also, it's so much better to be known as the super nice girl than the one who never says hi to anyone.

29. Don't wear your lanyard around your neck.

I don't know why this is such a big thing but everyone constantly points out how you can instantly tell freshman by the people who wear the student ID around their neck.

Just carry it :). (except, I totally did wear it around my neck at times because sometimes you just don't care what people think and it's way easier)

30. Don't only hang around with people from your high school.

Another mistake I made!!

I loved the people that went to my high school and were now at my college and I felt so comfortable with them.

But, it stopped me from meeting other people. You can still see your high school friends but I would recommend going out and meeting other people than just them!

31. Stay at your college at least a month before going back home.

You guys, I was seriously homesick. Like I would call my parents weekly crying about how much I wanted to go home.

...and second week there I went home. I got home and DID NOT want to go back.

If my parents would have forced me to stay there I would have been mad at them for the time being but I would have met more people and it would have forced myself to be comfortable.

My sister was a freshman this year at UW-Madison and we told her she couldn't come home until October 15th. It was probably one of the best things we did for her. She had time to meet a friend group she loves and really enjoys being at school.

32. You will feel like everyone has found best friends and you're the only one at the school who hasn't found their "people".

This is by far the hardest part of moving into college ESPECIALLY with social media.

You see everyone on social media posting pictures with all their new friends and look like they're having the time of their life.

Truth be told, that picture was probably when they were wasted at a bar and had just met each other ten minutes ago.

Look, it takes time to make friends and find people you really get along with. It's OKAY to not find them right away.

This happened to almost every girl I know and we all talked about it after college how lonely we all were. Even the people who looked like had met the most amount of people talked about how they felt like they had no one.

Making friends is hard but it will happen. Make sure to keep your chin up and keep socializing!

{RELATED POST: Dorm Essentials for 2019}

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