48 Useful Tips to Prepare for Freshman Year of College

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Money saving tips

1. Keep scouting for scholarships

And because you’ll be applying at off-peak times, you’ll have less competition from other students, and therefore a higher chance of snagging those funds. Every scholarship dollar you earn is a one less dollar tacked onto your student loans.

2. Use the resources you’re paying for

le. Everything you see on your campus is paid for, in part, by your tuition dollars. In that way, not taking advantage of campus resources is like leaving money on the table. You’ve already paid for it. Why not use it?

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3. Leave your car at home

Most college campuses with dorms are designed to be walkable and that’s especially so these days as colleges compete with each other to be more sustainable. With buses, bikes, college shuttles, and car shares, there are lots of options to get you where you need to go.

4. Comparison shop for your books

5. Take advantage of free pizza

Lots of clubs and organizations offer free pizza if you attend their informational session. What’s not to like about free food? You might even find out about cool programs or opportunities in the process.

6. Consider a small part-time job, especially in your field

Studies have found that students who work 12 hours or less each week actually do better in school than their peers who don’t work, perhaps because the extra obligation forces them to focus and stick to a schedule.

Regardless, working can be beneficial to more than just your wallet—just remember to practice moderation. If you sign yourself up for too many hours at work, your grades will likely suffer as a result.

7. Avoid credit cards

Credit card companies bombard college campuses with credit card offers, hoping young students with no financial experience will sign up, unable to resist the temptation of quick money. But credit card debt can pile up quickly and destroy your credit if you aren’t careful.

Don’t sign up for any credit card offers you receive until you are completely sure you understand how it works and are fully equipped to manage it responsibly. (And don’t just take the salesperson’s word on how easy and great it is. Their job is to get you to sign up.)

Better yet: Take a personal finance course or read books on the topic (there are plenty that aren’t snooze-fests) and learn how to use credit cards responsibly and to your advantage.

8. Pay a bit towards your student loans

If you’ve got a part-time gig and you have a little money coming in, why not kick at least some of it toward any of your student loans that are accruing interest? Making interest-only payments can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan, and allow you to get out of debt faster.

It doesn’t have to be a ton — just $10 a month or a chunk of your summer earnings will help whittle down that balance and make your student loan payments that much smaller after you graduate.

9. Scrutinize financial offers and quick-cash work

Some are legitimate, like selling programs for football games or doing experiments for the psychology department. But not all financial offers have your best interests at heart. Be wary of signing your name away for a “free gift.”

10. Get to know the dining hall options

If you’re tired of turkey sandwiches, try other locations on campus. These days, campuses offer a lot of different styles of food to cater to all kinds of students. Depending what resources you have in your room, consider cutting down on your meal plan and buying more groceries you can eat in your dorm, like frozen dinners or PB&Js.

11. Take your bike

Tips for making new friends freshman year

Another big stress point for incoming students is finding a new group of friends. Follow these tips to learn more about student organizations and other ways to make friends your freshman year.


1. Join clubs

Find people that make you feel like yourself and like you belong. Setting up that social network is vital to combatting loneliness and homesickness in your first year of college.

2. Avoid a really serious relationship

More than any other time in your life, college is your time to learn about yourself. It’s a time to explore possible career paths, friends, and interests. A time to go on road trips and explore new places and people.

College students in serious, long-term relationships, rightly so, devote a lot of time to their significant other. But that time and mental energy has to come from somewhere. When you’re spending time with your partner, you’re less likely to be spending that time forging new friendships, trying new things, or just generally focusing on your own needs.

3. Be candid with your roommate(s)

You have to see this person every single day. You also want your room to be a refuge and a place to relax and unwind. But you can’t do that if there’s tension between you and your roommate or roommates.

When a disagreement arises between you, as they tend to do with most roommates eventually, the most important thing to do is talk through it. You could even try texting or emailing if face-to-face is too uncomfortable for you.

4. Leave your dorm room

It’s tempting when you’re going through a transition to isolate yourself and stick to the comfort of your dorm. But keeping yourself roped off is one of the worst things you can do. Isolation is self-perpetuating.

5. Split a ride home

6. Scope out next year’s living situation

Find a good studying place

College life is about seeking a balance between your social and academic activities. As such, look for distraction-free studying areas. The campus library can be an excellent place to start. Alternatively, if you can’t find a suitable reading place, learn to read and prioritize in the face of distraction. Remember, that your time will not only be occupied by classes alone. You’ll have exams, assignments, and studying commitments. Therefore, you need to make sure you prepare for these activities ahead of time. Don’t wait until the last minute to start reading for an exam.

Use your syllabi to categorize and plan your reading schedules. Ask for the programs for each course you are taking from the instructor and plan for your whole semester ahead. This will allow you to work hard and play hard.

Be open-minded about who your friends might be.


“In college, you may meet peers of different races, ethnicities, religions, and immigration status than you. You will meet peers who came up in life richer than you and poorer than you. You will meet peers who are artists, entrepreneurs, writers, math brains, and committed scientists. There is something to be learned from them all and all of these kinds of people can become incredible friends.

“They will influence you in ways you cannot predict, which is why open-mindedness is key. The social aspect of college is surprisingly important for growth and learning. Think of your friends group in college as part of an important network that will stretch into your 20s and beyond.” -Monika Kincheloe, Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships



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