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Looking for the best tips and tricks for students about to head off to college? Here is everything I wish I knew before going to college.

what i wish i knew before going to college

Transition from high school to college is a huge change and I remember how scared I was going to a new school that was out of state. I spent hours researching dorm room ideas, study tips, how to keep organized, and really anything else you could possibly think of wanting to know before college.

Now that I have spent two years in college myself, I have definitely learned a lot and can tell you first hand everything you need to know before heading to college that I wish I knew before going to college.

Hopefully this will make you feel a lot more comfortable with starting your first year in college and get you even more excited for it!

 This post is all about what I wish I knew before going to college.


1. Your Tuition Doesn’t Cover Everything

With how much I was paying in tuition, I went into college thinking I was good to go. I was very wrong. There are a lot of extra expenses that your tuition doesn’t cover that I hadn’t even though about such as books, class kits, or website access codes you literally have to pay for to do your homework. 

I would definitely suggest having a couple thousand dollars extra to make sure you have enough to cover these expenses every semester. 

2. Plan Ahead Using An Agenda

There is absolutely no way to get through college with good grades without planning ahead and writing your assignments down. At the beginning of every semester I would write down all my assignments on the day before they were due in my planner so I could easily look at my week and see what needs to get done.

If you use your computer frequently, I would recommend using google calendar to color code all your class assignments so you can see what is due at anytime.

3. There Are A Lot Of Free Resources On Campus

One big thing I wish I knew before going to college was how many free resources there are that are offered on campus, This ranges from free tutoring to free resume headshots provided by the university. Look up and figure out what free resources are offered on your campus a head of time to make your next 4 years a lot easier.

4. The First Semester Is REALLY HARD

…and I don’t really mean hard from an academic standpoint. (PS – this is Sophia here). My first semester of college was probably the hardest few months of my life if we’re being honest. Change is a hard thing for me in general but to go somewhere completely new with everything changing from people, to where you live, to even the food is really hard.

My biggest mistake was envisioning that everything was going to be perfect. Allow yourself the time to love it, and the hate it, and then cry, and then love it again. It’s a constant cycle that first semester.

Also, I 100% agree with the next tip below.

5. Making Friends Takes Time

I went in to college so ready to make all new friends and find my “best friends for life.” The truth is, finding genuine friends take time and they wont always come easily. You need to make sure you are putting yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to ask people you have only met once or twice to hang out! There are likely trying to make friends too. 

Also realize it is normal to lose friends in college. Like I said finding your true friends takes time so don’t be discouraged if you and the people you once hung out with all the time stray apart.

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6. Set A Budget

One thing I was constantly stressed about in college was money. I originally went in thinking I had saved plenty of money but it goes away quickly. Make sure you set a budget for yourself early on in the year and stick to it so you aren’t stuck half way through the semester with little to no money left.

7. Find A Flexible Job

Speaking of money, it is essential you find a flexible job in college. This can be anything from a remote job you can do on your own time to part time jobs you can work when you don’t have class. It is a little stressful to balance school and work at first, but after a while you will find a good schedule and you will end up love having the extra cash.

8. Grades Tend To Go Up At The End Of The Semester

Now don’t use this as an excuse to slack off on your work because this isn’t always the case. But, one thing I found to be true is that at the end of the semester grades tend to go up. This is because many professors will drop grades or give extra credit to raise grades towards the end.

Like I said, this isn’t alway the case though. Make sure to check your syllabus at the beginning of the year to see if your professor gives drop grades for exams or homework assignments. 

9. Most College Professors Are Really Flexible

Remember all your high school teachers saying they are hard on you to prepare you for college? You can kind of look back and laugh now. I will say that college is a lot more work and you have to be more disciplined because professors expect you to get your work done on your own without having to remind you. But, the truth is college professors are really flexible for the most part. 

This doesn’t go for all profs because you will have some that are really strict. But, many also are very understanding so if you happen to forget an assignment don’t be afraid to email them because a lot of times they will work with you. This also goes for grades! If you feel you worked really hard in a class but aren’t receiving the grade you would lie, email them and see if there is anything you can do to receive a grade that reflects your work in the class.

10. You Don’t Need Many School Supplies

I know how fun it was to go school supplies shopping (click to read more to buy all the health supplements that are needed for college at the best quality) at the beginning of the year in middle and high school, but you really don’t need more than some pens, pencils, highlighters, and maybe a notebook. For me, I took notes on my computer so I didn’t even need supplies at all. But, you will need to buy class kits for certain classes which can be a bit pricey.

11. Be Prepared To Have To Turn Down Plans

This is advice I knew from the start but didn’t want to accept at first. In college there will always be something to do but you need to know that you wont be able to go to everything. School needs to come first and then social plans come after. So, if you know there is a certain event you want to go to, get your work done in advance or be prepared to say no.

12. Look For Classes You Can Take At Community College

Looking for classes you can take at community colleges that will transfer over to your university is something you can do that will save a lot of money in the long run. A lot of times general classes like math, science, or even business classes are offered at community college in the summer so taking them there instead of at your university can save you time and money.

13. Join The Class Group Me

The class group me in college is so so helpful. t can get annoying having to email your professor each time you have a question about an assignment or what to study for the exam. So, being in the group me will allow you to ask your peers questions easily. Plus, a lot of times people will send study guides!

14. Make A Friend In Every Class

Making a friend in eery class is advice that goes along with being in the class group me. Having a friend in each of your classes will make it easy to ask each other questions and even have someone to study with.

15. Joining A Club Or Greek Life Is Really Beneficial

Wether you join greek life, or find a club you like, it is really beneficial to join some kind of extra curricular in college. This will not only help you make friends, but can also help you find jobs and internships that will help you even after college.

16. Go To Review Sessions

A lot of professors will have review sessions before and exam and they are super helpful. This will give you an opportunity to ask questions about anything you need a little more clarification on. Many of these review sessions will go over exaclty what topics will be on your test and can even give you free test answers.

17. It Is Normal To Change Your Major

Wether you are going in to college with no idea what you want to major in or even if you get into college and decide to change your major, don’t stress! It is totally normal to change your major. I have friends that have even changed it 5 times now. 

18. Professors Have Office Hours

One of the best academic advice I wish I knew before going to college is that professors have office hours and you should take advantage of it! This gives you uninterrupted one-on-one time with your professor where you can ask questions before an exam or even discuss grades.

19. Look Up Your Proffessors

Before scheduling your classes make sure to look up your professor on rate my professor. This is a website that real student have written reviews about the professor. This will let you know how strict they are, if there is mandatory attendance, etc. It is super helpful and I would definitely recommend looking at this before scheduling your classes.

20. There Are Lot Of Student Discounts

You are already spending a ton of money in college so why not take advantage of all the student discounts you can get! Always ask or check stores to see if there is a discount using your student email!

21. Keep Up With Your Student Email

Speaking of student email, the biggest piece of advice that I wish I knew before going to college was how important keeping up with your email is. This is your main form of communication when it comes to talking to your profs. They will email you about class cancelations, due dates, and really everything else.

22. Schedule Your Classes Close Together

When signing up for classes, it can be tempting to spread them all out and have longer breaks in between. However, I found that it is way more efficient to schedule them close together so you can get them over with all at once. 

Otherwise you have these random breaks that you either go back to your dorm or apartment rest and then have to leave right away. I would always end up getting too cozy in my dorm or apartment and skipping my last class. Definitely recommend just pounding them out so then you have the entire rest of the day to do other things! 

23. Go Out of Your Comfort Zone

One thing I regret about college is not going out of my comfort zone more. I hung out with a lot of friends from high school my freshman year and I wish I asked more people that I didn’t know to hang out. 

I ended up meeting a lot more people later in college but if I did that earlier on, I would’ve found those people earlier! 

Also, join clubs and organizations that you’re interested in, even if you don’t know anyone! College is the time to really find your passions and when you actually have the time to do so. So do it! 

24. Do What Makes You Happy

In college you finally have the freedom to do what you want – hang out with the people you want, take classes you want, find hobbies you enjoy, etc. This is really the only time in your life that you’ll have the freedom and time to do these things so take advantage!

I spent my first two years in a major that I didn’t necessarily love, and lucky for me I was still able to switch my junior year. Make sure that you’re studying something you’re really passionate about because it’s going to lead into your career (which is the rest of your life!). I was so much happier and more excited about classes after I switched my major. 

Also, if you have some fun hobbies that don’t necessarily translate into a major, join a club or organization that does it! There are always sooo many clubs to join on campus and it really allows you to find people with the same interests. It’s another thing I wish I did more in college, so don’t be me and actually DO IT.

25. Use Free Transportation

I didn’t actually step onto the free bus on campus until I was a sophomore and man I was missing out. If you have a big campus, definitely check out the free transportation (if any)! Saves so much time and is a life-saver in the winter months. 

26. Don’t Procrastinate (in school or life) 

First, don’t procrastinate in school! The worst is realizing you have a huge project or exam the next day and having to cram all night. It’s inefficient and ineffective. 

Second, don’t hold off on things you want to do in college! There were so many activities I wanted to do and restaurants I wanted to try and never made it a priority. Go to the basketball game or try that new restaurant! Sleep can wait until you graduate lol. 

27. But Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself

Do as much as you can without spreading yourself too thin. College is tiring and can be super stressful at times so make sure you are checking in with yourself. Stay in when you feel like your body and mind need a rest. Don’t kill yourself over studying. Rest, eating well and staying active are just as productive as school work! 

28. Compare interest rates for student loans.

Something I wish I would have done was compare interest rates between student loans. I basically went to Sallie Mae and took whatever loan I was given. I paid such high interest rates that I would bet money with a little more research I could have gotten myself a better deal.

29. Start paying off debt while you’re still in college.

This is another misconception too. I would highly recommend that you start at least looking at all of your debt while you’re still in college. It can be a HUGE shock seeing how much money you owe at the end of your four (or however many years) and knowing what you owe can be really good for your financial and mental health. 

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