31 Things Every College Student Needs to Know

Getty / Klaus Vedfelt

College is an exciting adventure – you move away from home, meet new people, and finally get a true taste of independence (and lots of Easy Mac). For four years (or more, or less), you’ll be cramming a ton of knowledge – both academic and otherwise – into your head. But in your eagerness to start this new chapter, make sure to keep in mind some important tips for making the most of your experience, which, in turn, will help you learn lessons that will last a lifetime. Here are 31 things every college student should know.

  1. Build bridges, don’t burn them. Make connections that will benefit both your personal and professional life.
  2. Learn how to make coffee. You’ll need it.
  3. If there’s something going on at your school or in the community that you don’t like, change it. Action builds character (and résumes).
  4. Go to office hours! Spending time with teachers after class is no longer weird or embarrassing. In fact, it may be what makes or breaks your GPA.
  5. Just because you can skip most of your classes and get the PowerPoint presentations or notes online, it doesn’t mean that you should.
  6. Get an internship. Then get another internship. Get as much experience as you can, because when you graduate, everyone else will have a little piece of paper saying essentially the same thing yours does, so it’s important to do things that help you stand out.
  7. Use highlighters and note cards excessively.
  8. Grades are NOT everything. When you look back at these years, you probably won’t remember if you got an A or a C in Psychology 101, but you will remember that weeknight you stayed up until dawn, just because you could, making awesome memories with your friends.
  9. Find a balance between fun and work. Grades are not everything, but they are still important. Trust us, it’s possible (we didn’t say that it was easy).
  10. Accept that your college ID photo will be terrible, and know that you will pull it out in four years and claim that you don’t ever remember having that awful hair cut. Face it: everyone remembers, but you’ll treasure laughing at those photos later in life.
  11. Check in with academic advisers every semester to make sure you’re on track and in the right classes for your major.
  12. Don’t forget to use your student discount everywhere! Countless companies and stores – Apple, Verizon, and most movies theatres, to name a few – will often knock down the cost if you flash that college ID card. Most IDs don’t expire for several years after you graduate, so keep it around!
  13. Go to review sessions. Seriously, sometimes professors are essentially going over exactly what’s on the test in these sessions. Why would you NOT go?
  14. Take advantage of having a campus health care centre nearby while you have access to it.
  15. Find a “spot” in the library and let yourself get attached to it. When you go to study for a huge test, it will feel more like coming home than like sitting down to do work.
  16. Make sure you know how to do laundry before you get to school, instead of waiting until after your favourite shirt goes from person-sized to baby-sized to figure it out.
  17. Accept the fact that you won’t ace every test or paper. It’s almost an inevitability. Embrace it, and learn from it when it happens.
  18. If you have the opportunity, study or work abroad. A semester or year experiencing a different country and culture, away from everything you know, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
  19. Stock your dorm room with food from the dining hall. It’s not open 24 hours a day, and at some point you will definitely be awake and hungry when it’s closed.
  20. If you’re not a morning person, don’t schedule early classes. No matter how much you want to believe you’ll go, you won’t.
  21. Call your parents. You may think you’re doing them a favour, but you’ll be surprised how much good it does for you, too.
  22. Try and avoid the freshman 15. The all-you-can-eat buffets are easy to fall prey to, but you’ll be physically and mentally healthier if you find a way to add a fitness class to your schedule or take advantage of free access to university gyms.
  23. At some point, try to squeeze a good night’s sleep in there somewhere.
  24. Take advantage of anything free your school offers. Swag, free classes, free clubs, free food – take it all!
  25. Piling all of your classes on to Tuesday and Thursday so that you can have four-day weekends may seem like a good idea at the time, but it’s not. It means that all of your papers and projects will always be due at the same time, and if you miss just one day of class, you’ll get very behind.
  26. Be studious.
  27. Be spontaneous.
  28. When you’re working on a paper or project on the computer, press save – A LOT. Back everything up.
  29. Take care of your mental health. If you need something, don’t put it off until things hit a wall or spiral out of control. Ask for what you need, or seek it out yourself.
  30. Don’t miss out on the college experience by going home every weekend to see old friends, families, or significant others. It’s great to maintain ties with people you love, but don’t let it stop you from building a new life where you are.
  31. Allow yourself to change and grow. It’s mostly awesome, sometimes painful . . . usually a little bit of both at the same time.
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