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How to Survive Your First Year of College

How to survive your first year of college

I have been there…heck, I am still there! College is hard! The constant, never-ending piles of homework and assigned readings. It’s nearly impossible not to get behind! Plus, you’re always feeling sleep deprived and exhausted from pulling those all-nighters.

College is hard, but it can be made super easy by following these Tips to Surviving College!

Get Enough Sleep

Believe it or not, all-nighters aren’t all that helpful. When you’re sleep deprived your brain functioning decreases significantly and your metabolism slows! This is especially important during finals, everyone is feeling the need to stay up all night studying. But If you begin studying enough in advance (keep reading to learn more about this), you will be able to get enough sleep to be fully functioning come test-day! Nothing is worse on test day than being sleep-deprived.

“Sleep is essential for optimal learning and memory function.” -Harvard.edu

Sleeping Cat
downloaded from Pixabay.com

Eat Right

I know, I know, you’re poor, I was there. I understand you must eat on a teeny-tiny budget. Just make sure you’re eating! Don’t skip any of those key meals. Be sure to get a good breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Prepare a meal that you can eat on the go the night before if you know the next day is going to be busy. You can also save money on meals with meal planning and coupons.

“Healthy eating has been linked to higher grades, better memory, more alertness, faster information processing…”  Livestrong.com

Avoiding meals or eating primarily junk foods can significantly hurt your learning and your mood. So make sure you are eating and eating well!

Healthy Food
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Avoid Binge Drinking

The typical “college experience” includes partying, sure, go for it (YOLO, right?). NO. Drinking not only drains your bank accounts but it leads to poor decisions that can and will affect your schooling! I’m not saying you can’t go out and have some drinks with your friends every now and then. But, if you are doing it all the time your school work will suffer, your health will suffer, and you’re spending a lot of money on alcohol that you could be spending on REAL FOOD.

So, this goes with healthy eating and the financial topics I talk about below. Partying all the time does you no good if you are at school to get a degree (and if you don’t wish to gain a ton of weight, yeah, alcohol can cause weight gain). If you’re partying all the time, sleep deprived, and inevitably stressed from being poor and far behind on your work, obviously, your body isn’t going to be in very good shape. And if your body isn’t doing well, neither are you.

Try to avoid binge drinking, it’s not good for your college survival.



Make Friends

Having a social life is important, if you’re isolating then you are bound to burn out faster. Resilience. Resilience refers to a person’s ability to bounce back from traumatic or difficult situations. One way to help build your resilience is to have friends. I’m not saying you must go out and find a ton of friends (you can if you’d like). But really all you need is a couple close friends, people to count on and who count on you. Having a place to belong is super important!

Be careful, if you’re only socializing and you never study, your grades will suffer.

Build your resilience to difficult situations, make a friend. #Friendship

Time Management

I cannot stress enough the importance of time management! Without time management, you are more likely to forget about assignments and be generally stressed out and behind! Having good time management can help you to not only feel better but to raise your grades as well! Track your time for a week and see where you are spending your time!

“Time=Life; therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.” Alan Lakein

Time Management
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Get a Planner

Using a planner is a great way to practice time management! Use a planner to track your assignments, events, set aside study time, track your meals and water intake, track your habits, and be prepared for upcoming tests and projects! You can also track group assignment meetings, club meetings, and anything else you are involved in! I highly suggest creating a Bullet Journal, check out these printable planning pages and homework trackers to help you out!

Homework Tracker

myHomework.com

This website and mobile app will help you to track your assignments and it saved my education! It’s easy to use and incredibly useful! Here’s how you use it! (Not Sponsored)

At the beginning of every semester set aside a chunk of time to add all your assignments from the syllabus. You’ll be thankful you did this when you never forget an assignment again!

MyHomeworkApp

myHomework.com allows you to input assignments based on classes that you’ve added.

You can set the importance, add a description, set a reminder, and more!

You can also add the widget to your cell phone’s home screen to view your assignments at a glance

myhomework widget screenshot

Once you’ve turned your assignment in, check the assignment as done and move on to the next one!

Prefer to write it down? Check out my printable homework trackers!

Get your Books in Advance

As soon as your textbook lists become available, email your professor to make sure those are the required texts, then get them! Coming to the first few weeks of classes unprepared will set you back! No one likes playing catch up, you’ll never feel like you are ahead of the game.

Once you’ve bought them track them! Keep a spreadsheet detailing the book’s information so that, come to the end of the semester, you will know which ones are rentals and when they are due. Plus, if a book doesn’t show up, you will have all the information you need handy to get a free replacement!

CheapestTextbooks.com

I absolutely love this website and I recommend it to everyone I know who is searching for textbooks. This website automatically compares pricing on textbooks all over the internet to help you save money. This website saved me hundreds! (Not Sponsored)

Once you’ve typed your ISBN number or a keyword or phrase into the search bar, you get to choose how you want the book (Rental, New, Used, etc.). Then it’ll lay out all the sites you can buy the book from and the price! How easy is that??



Do Your Homework

Once you’ve got your time management all settled, you have your books and your assignments all figured out, you have no excuse for not doing your homework. Doing your assignments is literally the easiest way to ensure a passing grade. You can’t fail if you do everything that is asked of you! Chances are, you will do pretty well!

Simple as that!

Textbook Pile

Skim

You don’t have time to read every single reading assignment in detail, I get it. So instead, learn how to skim. This can take practice, but I am sure you’re already a pro.

Always refer to the discussion questions and key learning points presented at either the end or the beginning of the chapter. These will give you an idea of what you are about to read and also give you information to focus your attention on. If your professor gives you a set of discussion questions or an assignment, thoroughly read the instructions and questions before delving into the chapter. Again, this sets you up to read the information with a goal.

Pay close attention to the beginning and ending of every paragraph, as well as anything underlined, bolded, italicized or in a bubble on the page.

And Lastly, TAKE NOTES! Taking notes while you are reading is a sure-fire way to improve your learning. Simply writing down the section titles and subtitles, along with a few key points, definitions, or some of your thoughts will increase your attention to your reading. This, in turn, helps you to memorize the information for the test later!

Easy!

Do Your Homework at the Library

Sometimes the most distracting place to do homework is at home… Whether you live in the dorms, an apartment, or with your parents, you are more likely to watch Netflix or spend countless hours on your phone when you are at home. Doing your homework in the library lessens the chance you will be distracted and you will get a lot more done in a shorter period of time.

Textbooks and Plants

If you don’t have access to a library try designating a spot in your house for work only. In this spot, you cannot watch TV, sleep, or lounge. Having an area that is only for school will help you to sit down with the mindset that you are working, and help to lessen distractions.

Start Studying a Week in Advance

You don’t need an all-nighter to be prepared for a test if you’ve already been studying! Doing a little bit of reading or note card review every day starting at least a week in advance could be enough to prepare you for the test!

Study while you are waiting in line at the grocery store or while in the waiting room at the doctors. Doing this instead of browsing Facebook will increase your chances of passing!

Being prepared for a test feels way better than cramming the night before, promise!

studying

Get a Study Buddy…. Or Two!

Studying with other people is so great for learning because teaching is a really great way to reinforce memorization. Plus, if you are stuck, maybe your buddy can help!

Not only are study buddies great study resources, but they keep you accountable. Accountability is huge. If you have no way of holding yourself accountable for doing your work, why would you do it? Now maybe your parents or the teachers keep you accountable. Nevertheless, it’s nice to have someone there to work out the difficult problems with. Plus, maybe you’ll make a friend while you’re at it!

Take Advantage of Writing Centers and Tutors

Your school provides resources such as a writing center and tutoring services for a reason, USE THEM! There is nothing to be ashamed of, everyone needs a little help sometimes.

If you are struggling with one of your classes, get a tutor. A tutor is someone who has been in the class or knows the subject particularly well. Why wouldn’t you want the help of an expert?

Writing centers are also amazing resources. Every student at one point has to write a paper or two, it’s inevitable so you might as well accept your fate now. No matter how skilled you are at writing papers it is always smart to have someone (or multiple someones) read your paper for errors, structure, flow, etc. The people in the writing center happen to be particularly knowledgeable in writing. They can catch those pesky mistakes you keep reading over, and the ones you don’t know your making. Make an appointment and have them read it! What can it hurt?

“Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it means you’re smart enough to recognize when you’re struggling.” Elizabeth Ghekiere



Take Notes!

As I mentioned before, writing things down helps you to learn and memorize information. Even if you have access to the notes online, taking your own notes is a form of studying. So, by taking notes you are becoming better prepared for the test.

Taking notes in class is huge because many professors add questions to the test that are based on lectures instead of just the reading, assignments, or their provided notes. Forcing yourself to take notes also forces you to pay attention and you are less likely to wonder, “Did we actually learn this” when it comes to test-day! There were so many times in my undergrad, where I would hear other students complaining that the teacher didn’t teach the information that was on the test. However, I would look at my notes and see clearly that it was a topic of discussion. Paying attention and taking notes helps!

Take Notes

Ask Questions

If you are stuck or confused ask questions! Raise your hand in class, approach the professor after class or during office hours, ask the writing center, ask a tutor, ask a classmate. If you don’t know something, ASK, don’t leave yourself hanging.

So often I find myself confused or wondering something but am afraid to raise my hand and be embarrassed. This is normal. However, after forcing myself to ask questions I found that I felt more confident in both myself and my work! Not only did I feel better, but I was able to build really helpful relationships with professors and peers. These connections are incredibly useful in the future when you have more questions, or in the job-world when you need a recommendation!

“Don’t be afraid to ask a question, it might lead to a mutually prosperous relationship.” Elizabeth Ghekiere

Start Paying on Your Loans

I know, I know, you’ve been trying to avoid your loans, not pay on them early! But trust me, you will be saving your own butt if you start NOW! Even if you just try to keep up with the interest, you’ll thank yourself after you graduate! I started paying on my loans my freshman year and was able to pay off two loans completely before I graduated, leaving another two with only a couple hundred left. Crazy right!? I didn’t even make monthly payments. Imagine the damage you could do with monthly payments! Whenever you have extra money, throw it at your loans, you won’t regret it.



Avoid Credit Card Offers

Those pesky credit card offers will be the death of you. They sound intriguing now, and they try to tell you it’s the only way to accrue credit. But they are lying. I haven’t used a single credit card and I have great credit!

Credit cards are tempting because you’re poor in college, but unless you are able to pay them off RIGHT AWAY, you will only build yourself into a deep debt-hole. The deeper the hole, the harder it will be to get out of, and the longer it will take to get financially free.

Take All Those Free Pens

Pens

You just never know when you or a friend will need a pen, might as well take one…or three!

I hope these tips and tricks which helped me survive my undergrad are helpful for you! Enjoy what you’re reading? Sign up for a ton of FREE stuff HERE.

Sincerely Elizabeth of Jihi Elephant

How to survive your first year of college

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