35 Ways to Win At College – A Mini Guide to Adulting


I’ve been attending college pursuing a degree in Agricultural Communications and a minor in Livestock Production for almost 3 years. I don’t have it all figured out. But there are lots of things I would tell my freshman self if I had the opportunity (plus all of the awesome advice my Facebook friends had to share). So I thought, why not publish our ponderings ? Here are 35 ways to help you win at college –

  1. Avoid the Bookstore like the Plague. Unless you have to purchase things at the bookstore – don’t purchase things at the bookstore. Unless you like spending way more than any sane person would on basics or don’t have transportation off campus or your bookstore price matches. That’s a little different. Just go to Walmart it will probably be cheaper and the same quality. Except scantrons, just get those there.
  2. Refer to #1. Be smart about textbook costs. Pretty much don’t be afraid to shop around! #AmazonStudentRocksMySocksOffgiphytextbooks
  3. If you don’t own a ball cap – purchase one now. You will need it. You will use it. There will be days you oversleep, there will be days with nasty weather and you can wear them in cute ways super easy.
  4. Coffee is life. It’s only taken me twenty years to figure out the magical powers of coffee. Trust me – if it can keep me awake during my twelve hour day there is something amazing about that elixir.
  5. Beware of the Freshman 15, it is a real thing. I’m only just now getting rid of mine. It’s easy to eat tons of food when you’re on a meal plan depending on what the requirements are. Opt for lean protein, whole grains and lots of fruit. Cheat a little every now and then – you’re a human being. But try to eat like your momma wouldn’t balk at what you load your plate up with every meal.giphyrachel
  6. You’ll miss home. If you’re the letter sending type, pre-address a few to those you’ll be writing. If you’re not the letter writing type, set aside some time at least weekly to call and catch up with whoever is important in your life. It helps for people back home to know you’re still alive and for you to not be quite so homesick.giphymom
  7. Find your class locations the day before. Better yet – take a campus tour if you’re not familiar with how everything’s laid out. We all know you intend to be there in your first day of college outfit with impeccable hair and makeup ten minutes early. But we know that with parking and all you’ll probably barely make your first class.
  8. Actually go to class. Just do it. It’s much nicer than your schedule in high school. So, go to class. It’s okay to take a sick day when you need it to catch up on sleep, etc. But this shouldn’t be more than once a month. Keep in mind – you actually might get sick for real, so don’t push the attendance policies to their breaking points and get a B because you didn’t leave opportunity to miss later. Also professors are more willing to work with you if they see you actually show up.giphyclass
  9. Pick a study buddy in each class. They don’t have to be your best friend ever. But they can help you get any information you missed and help pass the time when you get there early. Better yet make an actual friend. It also helps if they attend regularly.
  10. Take care of yourself. Coffee remedies a lot of this. But it shouldn’t be used as a crutch. Remember to take some time for you. You need to unwind or you will get burnt out. Save this for finals week if you must. Sleep, take your vitamins and Netflix every now and again. Don’t be the person walking crop circles at three am during finals week earlier on in the semester. Not worth it.
  11. Know your syllabus(s). Also know that it’s a ‘contract’ between you and the professor. However, professors can change them. So know that too.rossgeller
  12. Use your campus resources. Seriously. You’re paying for them. Your campus probably has a gym, a health center, counseling services, test service center, tutoring, printing services, etc. All for free. Let’s back up its not free but they’re probably covered in your tuition. Which is as close to free as you’ll ever really get. Get your money’s worth!
  13. Take the time to save your documents in two places. Computers get viruses and crash sometimes because they feel like it. Some professors don’t have much sympathy. So invest in a USB drive or even email them to yourself. Whatever you need to do to have access to that document.
  14. Don’t be afraid to change your major. Or start out undeclared. Take your general ed classes and see what floats your boat. Most college students change their major at least once. Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to have your life figured out beforehand. Most still don’t upon graduation.
  15. Pick up each night. You don’t have to ‘clean’ just put stuff back where it goes. Your space is limited and it makes actually cleaning your living space way easier later.
  16. Study smarter not harder. So you’re actually supposed to take a ten minute break for every fifty you study. Just don’t make this a Netflix break and you should be fine.giphymc
  17. Learn how to grocery shop. Eat healthy and cheap. It is possible. Learn how to navigate grocery ads. Wondering ballpark how much/what you should be eating? Check out this. It even has a calorie counter if you’re into that.
  18. Bring one professional wear outfitNothings worse than having to go buy dressy clothes for a presentation when they’re not in your budget.
  19. Get a Job. Most of us work through college. Get a job that will work into your class schedule or around it. Better yet, get one on campus if possible.
  20. Make a Budget. Stick to it. When you’re budgeting remember to look at incidentals (there are usually more costs at the beginning of the semester). If you’re like many college students who aren’t entirely on their own I’d talk it over with mom and dad. They might be willing to fill in the gaps you won’t be able to without working full time – like insurance.
  21. Apply For Scholarships. Good. Now don’t make any financial decisions based upon that until you personally have funds deposited into your account. Sometimes life happens and these are delayed or distributed differently than we expect. Once you have them – use them for important stuff. A rainy day fund, books, etc.
  22. Have a Rainy Day Fund. Your dog will get sick. You will need glasses. Your car will need work. Etc. They say it’s important to have six months of wages saved in case you’re unable to work. That’s a big number for most of us. While you’re still at home make a rainy day fund. Then don’t touch it. Literally open all your cards from graduation, write thank you notes, open a bank account for that money. Leave it there. Even a few hundred dollars is helpful.
  23. Plan Your Breaks.   If you only get haircuts when you go home or need something only your parents can provide just plan on getting it done when you’re at home. Give them a heads up they’d be happy to work with you.
  24. Take a Fun Class. Taking a class you enjoy is a great way to blow off steam and learn a new skill. Better yet, take a fun class you can learn a skill in to make more money (photography, microbrewery, personal training etc.) Diversify yourself. This is what college is all about.
  25. Dollar Store is BAE. Yes I just used BAE. It was lots of fun when you were small and your grandma gave you a ten dollar bill to waste on things you didn’t need. It’s even more fun to buy things you actually do need here for an affordable price now than it was then. Also you can make yourself a finals week survival package for way cheap.
  26. Make Friends with Your Roommate. Be respectful, communicate, laugh, cry, everything. But don’t room with a friend. Housing will tell you this is the number one reason people request new room or suite mates. You don’t want to throw away an 18 year relationship over not cleaning the bathroom.
  27. Seek Out New Opportunities. College is all about exploring new things to learn and do. Join a club, go to an event. But also, don’t be afraid to say “No”. You are one individual, you need sleep.giphyelf
  28. Use a Planner. For the love of all things good and holy, if you’re not keeping track of your life by now it’s time to start.
  29. Find Thrifty Ways to Relaxe. Find a local park or trail to hike for fun. Go thrifting for new clothes at a second hand store. Go to a college sporting event (I bet you get in free). Ask around to find a pizza place you can buy by the slice or a local ice cream shop. Or Netflix. This is good too.giphymacklemore
  30. Know What’s in a Housing Contract. Just read it, and read it thoroughly. If it says no pets they’re not going to turn a blind eye to your cat that’s not actually a service animal. If it says the whole first academic year you can’t default a semester in. As a freshman many times on campus housing is required but if it’s not shop around to find some place close and safe. Off campus is usually a lot more affordable than on.giphysheldon
  31. Follow the 7 Day Rule. Every 7 days do your dishes, clean out your fridge, do your laundry, clean your house. Pick a day you don’t have a lot going on and hammer it out.
  32. Good Wifi is important. It’s not that expensive. What’s expensive is the cable packages companies like to sell with it. If you live off campus get good wifi so you don’t have to register for classes at 5am at a random Starbucks and can have multiple people using it at once.
  33. Take Good Care of Your Vehicle. Park where you are supposed to during the time you’re allowed. If not they’ll ticket you. They don’t care that you’re a freshman. If you don’t pay your ticket they’ll boot your car – which is more expensive. So just pay the ticket. They will catch you. Do it right. Also inspect your vehicle before you drive off campus for dents & scratches. Accidents do happen in the parking lot and sometimes you need to contact the campus police before moving the vehicle.
  34. Time Management Is a Must. You may not have free time running out your ears but you can enjoy it without regret if you budget it right. Take advantage of the breaks between classes that you have when you aren’t commuting and learn how to multitask. If you learn how to manage your time you can avoid all nighters which is also awesome.giphygossip
  35. College is What You Make it. No two experiences are alike. It can seem scary but it’s not. You will do awesome.


Source for all gifs – http://giphy.com

Do you have any tips for winning at college? Be sure to share below!


1 Comment

  • Reply Alex Lloyd August 14, 2016 at 6:16 am

    Love this! I’m a senior and this is all still relatable!

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