Ah, life hacks. What would we do without them? There are literally millions of life hacks out there on the internet, so we’ve gathered 24 that you’ll need to survive life as a Camel at Connecticut College.
1. Go debit, not credit!
Card companies love targeting college students because they tend to fall for spending perks more easily, which leads to chronic overspending, which leads to an inability to pay off their credit, which leads to more credit card debt, which in turn leads to more money for the corporate executives up top… well, you get the idea. If you do have a credit card or three, pay them all off before canceling and switch to debit – that way, you can only spend what you actually have.
2. Get a job on campus.
…Especially if you qualify for work-study. Sure, being a library receptionist isn’t very exciting and it doesn’t pay very much, but it can lessen the sticker shock of your tuition a bit and put some fun money in your pocket.
3. Use your student email for online services.
Take advantage of online services like lynda.com, which are completely free if you sign up with your student email account.
4. Sign up for Shoreline Perks.
Looking for something fun to do on the weekend? Shoreline Perks will send you amazing discounts for local businesses on the Connecticut shoreline twice a week, right to your inbox.
5. Shop at consignment shops.
Consignment shops have a bit of a bad rap, but that can’t be further from the truth. The Goodwill in Clinton is a bit of a hike (about half an hour from campus), but it’s completely worth it for the discounts. I’ve gotten name-brand jeans for under five bucks a pair and unique eye-catching dresses for under ten. It’s easily accessible via the Shoreline East commuter rail that runs out of New London and through Clinton. (There’s also one in Groton, though I’ve never actually been there myself – feel free to comment your experiences if you have!) Mystic is another option a bit closer to campus and is home to tons of consignment shops as well.
6. Get a larger computer monitor.
This way it can pull double duty as a TV – all you need is an HDMI cable to hook up to your laptop and an internet connection to stream your favorite series. It also works wonders as a display for your Xbox One, PS4, or WiiU if you’re a gamer.
7. Use colorful washi tape instead of frames.
Picture frames are nice and all, but when packing they can be a serious pain in the neck. Opt instead for “frames” made from colorful washi tape – they can be made to fit every nook and cranny of your dorm.
8. Declutter your desk.
Desk clutter is ridiculously annoying in any situation, but especially so when you have such little space to begin with. Try beating it with a tray or hanging shower caddy to keep your desk organized.
9. Try papercrafting.
For some truly unique (and cheap!) decorations, try papercrafting! All you need is a printer, some cardstock, tacky glue, scissors, and a bit of patience. Canon Creative Park has excellent beginner-friendly templates ranging from itty-bitty Eiffel Towers to adorable exotic animals; if you’re feeling a little more ambitious you can try looking through the vast archives of Papercraft Paradise. My personal favorite site, however, is PaperPokés, which features hundreds of high-quality models inspired by the Pokémon series.
10. Make collages.
Access your Instagram account online and download your all-time favorite pics directly to your desktop to make amazing collages. Of course, you can do this with all of your regular photos, too.
11. DIY string lights.
Christmas lights + ping-pong balls + craft knife = instant string lights for cheap. You’re welcome. Check out a cool video to do them here!
12. Keep track of cords with a homemade organizer.
Simply cut out holes in one side of a storage box (make sure it’s big enough to fit a power strip!) and use circular scrapbooking frames to give the edges a nice appearance. Cut an additional hole in the back of the box to feed the power strip cord through, label each of the holes on the side with one of your devices, and decorate to your heart’s content.
Eat & Drink
13. Addicted to soda? Try this healthier alternative.
Fill your glass 3/4th to 5/6th of the way up with seltzer or carbonated water, then pour in cranberry juice until your glass is full. Finish it off with a few drops of orange juice and a wedge of fresh lime for a truly amazing fruity drink.
They are not just for coffee and tea! Use your Keurig for any late-night study snacks which require boiling water to prepare – be it oatmeal, pasta, hot dogs, steamed veggies, or ramen.
15. Your meal plan is covered by tuition! Use it.
Fun fact: Connecticut College’s tuition includes a comprehensive meal plan that lasts the entire semester, so take advantage of it!!! Bring a travel mug when you grab breakfast at Harris for free coffee and tea on the daily.
16. The infamous Freshman 15?
Totally a myth. While experts agree that college freshmen gain a little bit more weight than usual, it’s usually closer to 3 or 4 pounds, not 15. Bottom line? Don’t freak out over having ice cream every once in a while – you deserve it!
17. If somehow you can’t get to the dining hall…
Food is relatively easy to come by at Conn, but let’s just posit a hypothetical scenario: You’re pulling an all-nighter to finish an essay due in less than 6 hours. In order to finish it you missed out on dinner at Harris, don’t want to bother going to Cro for a mediocre, overpriced meal, and are dead broke for pizza from Dominoes. What do you do to satisfy those hunger cravings that are getting too strong to ignore? Check out No More Ramen, a Tumblr blog with user-contributed recipes that are super-easy, cheap, and quick to make.
18. Download the app SelfControl.
It blocks any sites you program into it for up to 24 hours at a time. The best part? There’s no way to deactivate it, so you’re forced to stay on task.
19. Use Google efficiently.
Google isn’t foolproof, and there will be occasions where you just can’t find what you’re looking for without sorting through unrelated jargon. There’s ways to get around this, however – as this handy info graph shows, it’s all about how you type your search terms in the first place.
Studies have shown that walking for just twenty minutes before an important exam activates areas of the brain which facilitate memory retrieval, longer attention spans, and creativity, which in turn leads to better academic performance.
21. Work together on group projects, rather than letting one person take over.
When doing group projects, be aware of psychological phenomenon which can easily inhibit productivity. Social loafing is when people in a group put in less effort because they think that their fellow members will compensate – but when everyone in the group thinks that their fellow members will do this, problems will obviously arise. The best way to combat this phenomena is following the 3 C’s as outlined by social psychologist Dan Rothwell: instilling a sense of collaboration by assigning meaningful tasks to each member, identifying the importance of the content these collaborations will bring to the project, and giving group members the choice to decide what content they wish to contribute to the project.
22. Take easier classes.
How about your gen ed requirements, perhaps? During your first couple of semesters, it’s important to build up your GPA. That way, if you don’t do as well in a more difficult class, the blow it will inflict on your GPA won’t be as significant.
23. Take notes in class.
Don’t skimp out on taking notes, even if the content in lectures is pretty much identical to what’s in your textbook. Writing stuff down has been scientifically proven to strengthen areas of the hypothalamus, making it easier to remember material come exam time. To maximize your note taking game, color code everything with highlighters, which stimulate visual memory.
AND THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL…
24. If a life hack seems silly or stupid, don’t use it.
Seriously. If I left off a popular life hack, it’s because someone like John Green proves it’s not at all effective, or it simply goes against common sense.
In doing research for this article, I encountered people using the back of a hairbrush as a makeshift side mirror for their car (which is illegal), sticking an egg in hot coffee to hard-boil it (did we learn anything from the McDonald’s Hot Coffee incident?), freezing a tube of toothpaste to make after-dinner mints (there’s a reason dentists don’t suggest ingesting toothpaste), and all sorts of other ridiculous cost-cutting measures. I’m not saying that all life hacks are bad – in fact, a lot of them are amazing! -But I am saying that we should all be careful before trying one out, especially if it seems too good to be true.