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Tips to Surviving College

By Julia Jakubow Happy New Year!—School year, that is. After going to the crowded stores with back-to-school sales, students head out to the universities for a new year of academic studies, dorm life, and afterschool activities. For the freshman, it’s a year of exploring the campus and the extracurriculars, along with coping with your first college classes. College life poses a new set of challenges even for the students returning to campus. Students find themselves dealing with the ups and downs of commuting or dorming. Not to mention the usual work load, party-going, and career-searching. College students everywhere can use some of these tips to help them survive college life:

  •  If you’re new to the college, visit the campus before classes start. For commuters, try the train or bus routes to campus so you don’t end up on the other side of town on your first day of class. Find the campus bookstore, the library, the dining hall, and other student services. Looking ahead of time for places to study or hang out can be helpful when you want to get away from your roommate.
  • Relax about your roommate and try to get along with him or her. Be friendly and open-minded on your first couple meetings. Set up some guidelines or boundaries to clarify your study and/or organizational needs and respect those of your roommate.
  • Learn how to do laundry before you come to college, and don’t trust a “friend” to do your laundry for you—this person can steal your clothes. But most times this person may not be as experienced as they claim. It is best to handle your own laundry—and take responsibility for your own pink underpants.


  • Eat healthy and affordably to your own budget. Keep yourself hydrated with water (not so much coffee) and invest in veggies, fruits, and other healthy sources of protein. It is also important to eat full meals throughout the studying and partying. While it’s tempting to eat pizza every day, there are other alternatives to fuel your body. Don’t be afraid to try some ethnic food in the area as well. But remember not to spend all your dining money in one month either.


  • Time-manage so you can fit in your studies and your fun. Keep yourself committed to your classes and your work, but you can still make time for fun outings with friends and the occasional party as well. Keep a schedule of study times and keep your social life organized to get the best of both worlds. College isn’t all parties, and if it is, you’ll be out of college soon.


  • Don’t come to class hung-over. People and your professor will notice–especially if you’re hiding in the back half-asleep wearing a hood or sunglasses. Come to class prepared and attentive and remember to participate. (If you see one of your classmates hung-over, call attention to it so they can learn their lesson)


  • Don’t post any party pictures on the internet—that includes Facebook, Twitter, etc. And don’t let friends post any party pictures for their sake and for yours—in case they took one of you drinking a “questionable” beverage. Employers tend to look at social media sites to learn more about potential employers. The last thing you want is an employer to see one of you at your worst. Once you or your friend posts a picture, it can be nearly impossible to erase. Keep the pictures you want people to see online. Keep the party fun at the party.


  • Safety first, duh. On a more serious note–Don’t leave a late party alone, especially if you’ve had one too many. Drive yourself or other people if you are in the condition to drive, and be aware of your driver’s condition. Some colleges have campus security officers who can provide transportation services. If you’re on campus or other modes of transportation late night, be with friends. Have a fun and safe time.
  • Don’t be offended if your professor doesn’t say hi to you in the halls—he or she hates class just as much as you do.


  • Make new friends. College is a place of new faces and diversity—an opportunity to meet new friends and learn about their ideals and cultures. Talking with peers can also inform you about college and work life, where to find the best dining and gambling, etc.


  • Investigate internships and possible job opportunities to help with career-searching. If you’re thinking of being writer, check out local newspapers for writing opportunities. Or if you want to be a filmmaker, learn about filming crews in the area who take on interns. The more experience with working, the more prepared you’ll be for life after college.
  • Be involved at your college. Try joining Cave-diving, Birdwatching, Sweater-Weavers United, or any other club that peaks your interest. Get involved with campus events and fundraisers or campus volunteering. Be connected and make new friends. Welcome back!

  For comments: What are you looking forward to this year?

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