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College 101

What They Don’t Tell You!

College is a time that can be very exciting yet scary if you are not prepared for what's ahead! We see so much on movies and social media about how college is portrayed to be, but tend to skip over the essential skills and knowledge needed to survive college. Now whether you are at a two-year college or four-year college, these basic tips that I have learned and experienced will help prepare you to face that next level.

1. Build connections with your professor!

When entering the classroom on the first day, if you want to be that successful college student, introducing yourself to the professor can be a big plus. In big class settings, there are so many students that the professor simply does not have time to remember everyone. If you want to catch the professor’s attention, sit in the front of the classroom instead of going to the back, engage in class discussions, stay after class to ask questions, and most importantly, ATTEND class. By doing these things, a student can easily build a connection between them and their professor. This will help in the future when a student may need a reference from professors or letter of recommendations. By building these connections, professors wouldn’t mind writing a letter on student’s behalf or connecting them with job opportunities. All these things are really important that most students don’t know about and can be really beneficial.

2. Your GPA starts now!

One thing that I had to learn the hard way was waiting to the last minute to get my GPA back up from slacking off in the beginning. Something that most students don’t realize upon entering college is that your GPA matters as soon as you step foot on campus. Most students, particularly college freshmen, think that freshman year is a time to not do work, not go to class, and party everyday. While all these things may sound fun, building your GPA early is a big plus. A student can still have fun and focus on their priorities at the same times. Most students neglect class and their grades in the beginning and struggle in the end to get them up once they have fallen. Building your GPA early is something that every student should know about and really take serious because it can get so easy to get off track and hard to catch back up in the end. One thing that I’ve learned while being a college student is to get as much work done early as possible so I will not have to worry about in the end.

3. Utilize Campus Resources!

Knowing and utilizing the resources on your college campus can really add on the success of a student. There are so many resources that students have access to but don’t know about. For example, the library, the writing lab, math lab, tutoring, supplemental instruction sessions, mental wellness lab, computer labs and so many more that students have FREE access to. Something that was very beneficial to me was the supplemental instructions (SI) sessions. These are sessions that are open to students who may not understood what was going on in their classes’s lecture. The SI leader is a student of a higher grade who have taken this course and passed with an A. These sessions really helped with my performance in the class because the SI leaders take the time to sit down, discuss, and break down the lesson from the class. I really began to see my grades go up after utilizing the resources that were given to me. Students do not either know about these resources or don’t take the time to use them and can cause poor performance in the classroom. Utilizing what the school has given you for FREE can be a big part of your success as a college student. 

4. Be organized!

As a third year college student, being organized is something that can’t be stressed enough. There are so many deadlines and meetings that have to be fulfilled and we simply just sometimes forget things. Keeping a planner or a bulletin board is a big key to college. Most professors will give out an assignment one to two weeks in advance and it you responsibility to remember because they will not repeat it again. There will be papers, assignments, projects, and meetings almost everyday of the week and simply writing them down in a calendar or sticky note will help keep your mind from getting stressed or overwhelmed. Most professors will not accept late work so constantly reminding yourself or getting it done early is an effective resolution to make things easier. Doing simple things such as color coding binders for each class, using highlighters, sticky notes, and many other things can help keep your mind organized and easier to remember. Remember: A cluttered mind = stress!

5. Money Tips$$

Last but not least... Money! Saving money in college can be really hard because students are own their own and don’t have Mom and Dad to tell them what and what not to spend their money on. These money saving tips can simply help a student with their spending and ways to make money while being a student. 

Opening a student bank account on campus is the first step. Most campuses have a bank for students either right on campus or in walking distance. Opening a savings account or checking account will take off a little pressure of having to spend money. Not physically having the money in your hand will make you less likely to spend. Having a savings account allows you to build money and the bank controls how much money you take out. Having an account and a bank on campus was very helpful for me and they really helped with my spending!

Finding an on-campus job is another easy way for students to have money while in college. This allows you to work only so many hours so it won’t interfere with school and other activities. I had my first on campus job my freshman year at the alumni center. It was a great way to earn some extra money and save for a rainy day and other expenses. Also, having an on-campus job opens up opportunities and connections through the university. I got to be an ambassador for the school through my job, got invited to dinners, and other great events. Having an on campus jobs allows you to work and be independent with your own money coming in steadily. Although having an on campus job may be great, still keep in mind that you are a student first and don’t let a job keep you from being focused on school. 

Selling clothes with Plato’s Closet another great way to make extra cash. If your college town have a Plato’s Closet, they will take old clothes, shoes, purses and other items that are in good condition and will pay you for those items. This was a great way to get rid of old clothes that were out of season or just didn’t simply want anymore and have some extra cash!

Selling back books to the bookstore is a great option to earn extra money and give back to the school. If there are books that you needed for class and had to buy, you can re sell them back to the school’a bookstore and they will pay you back. This was a great way to get rid of old books that were not being used and able to have for the next student. 

Here are just a few more money saving tips for first time college students:

  • Eating on campus w/ meal plan instead of going out to eat 
  • Renting books instead of buying them 
  • Only go out on the weekends 
  • Keep loose change in a jar

Now it’s your turn!

These are just a few tips that I wanted to share that can really help a student along the way who may need a little help on this journey. These tips really helped me as a college student even though I had to experience and learn a lot of these on my own because of lack of knowledge. Hopefully, this will be beneficial to upcoming college students and maybe they can pass it on and help the next person! 

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