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50 Essential Life Hacks For Surviving College

50 Essential Life Hacks For Surviving College

College is most certainly an experience like no other.  For young adults not yet used to the relying on themselves, college evokes new feelings of freedom and individuality.  The experience itself is new and exciting, offering constant opportunities around every corner.  There are endless activities, organizations, and clubs to get involved in as well as countless new people to meet. Through all of this exciting hullabaloo however, challenges do arise. The environment is different from anything previously experienced, no matter the type, size, or location of your school.  Lucky for you, I’m about to give you a list of life hacks that will help you avoid any issues threatening your awesome college experience. Read on for 50 essential life hacks for surviving college!

1. First Few Weeks are Essential for Socializing

During the first few weeks of college everyone is looking to meet new people and make new friends.  This time is crucial for developing a successful social life.  Unlike high school where many groups have already been set in stone since 6th grade, this is the time where people are open to making new acquaintances. So be sure to take full advantage!

2. Decide Feelings Towards Partying BEFORE College Begins

I can’t stress enough how important it is to understand your own viewpoints and values when it comes to drinking in college.  There will be parties no matter what university you end up attending so it’s time to prepare yourself.  Nobody wants to be pressured into doing something they don’t want to do. Sticking to your pre-set decisions on the matter is extremely important to prevent doing something you’ll later regret.

3. Prepare Yourself for Dreaded Communal Bathrooms

Sharing a bathroom isn’t easy.  Especially when your sharing one among six, eight, or ten complete strangers.  You’re going to want to take the necessary precautions.  Shower shoes are a must, especially when you don’t know who in your cluster might have athlete’s foot.  You’ll need a shower caddy to easily transport your belongings back and forth.  Most importantly don’t forget to bring a bath robe to avoid awkward walk-bys in your towel.

4. Bring Magnets

Magnets are definitely something you’re going to want to invest in.  There is always a magnetic surface somewhere within your dorm, whether it be your microfridge or your closet doors.  This will provide a place to pin helpful reminders and paperwork.

5. Bring Even More Magnets

At my college in particular, your key is needed to enter the bathroom.  This can be extremely irritating having to locate the key every time you need to walk down the hall.  To avoid this problem place a magnet where the door locks on the inside to avoid the door locking as it closes.

6. College is the Land of Free Stuff

A college campus offers an infinite amount of events, information sessions, and socials all throughout the semester.  This is prime time for you to stock up on the advertising merchandise they have to offer.  Free t-shirts, pens, food, hats, bags… the list goes on and on.

7. Be a Good Roommate

Most students are worried about whether or not they will approve of their roommate.  However, consider how you will be to room with.  Being considerate and respectful goes both ways.  If you allow yourself to be cognizant of how your actions affect the relationship, your roommate will more easily reciprocate those actions.

8. Communication is Key

So you’re an adult now.  It’s time to start acting like it.  Have a problem with your roommate?  TALK to him/her.  Need information on a club?  TALK to the club leader.  Don’t understand the bio homework problems?  TALK to your professor.  TALK, TALK, TALK.  Verbal communication is extremely important to better connect with those around you.

9. Get a Hot Glue Gun and Some String

With these two items within reach anything– and I mean ANYTHING– can be fixed.  You will find things will fall apart and break very easily within your small dorm room. Trust me when I tell you these tools will be life savers.

10. Protect Your Phone

Your phone is an essential tool in college.  You’ll want to keep it in tip top shape.  Purchase a protective phone case to ensure the screen doesn’t shatter when you drop it at the Friday night frat party.

11. Team Up w/ Your Roommate on Laundry

With so many people residing in one building, finding an available washer or dryer can be a serious pain.  If you can wash any clothes together, do it.  Less loads means less time waiting on washers.  You can also have your roommate save the washer for you after taking their clothing items out.

12. Be Friendly with the RA

There’s going to come a time when you are caught doing something violating school conduct.  It could be as simple as having your music on too loud or as major as passing out in the hallway after a night of one too many Bud Lights.  Whatever the case may be, having your RA know and like you personally will soften the punishment.

13. Get Involved

Everyone has their own hobbies and interests.  More likely than not there is a club, organization, or group on campus that you can join to pursue your passions.  Not only will you meet people with similar interests but you’ll feel satisfied being a part of something.

14. Bring Hats

Bed head is a regular occurrence here in college.  Waking up fifteen minutes before class doesn’t give you much time to fix the monstrosity that sometimes is your hair.  Throwing on a cool cap will spare you any looks of terror from your peers.

15. Have Snacks in Stock

The dining hall is only open for so many hours during the day.  If you’re a late night snacker than invest in some BBQ chips and cheez-itz to tie you over.  This can also be useful for when you’re simply feeling too lazy to leave the dorm room.

16. Personalize Your Dorm Room

Taking the time to hang a few photos from home on the empty, desolate dorm room wall will make it a far more comfortable environment.

17. Having a Car is a Life Saver

There will always be times where having a car on campus will be you’re biggest blessing.  Easily being able to drive to the store, to a party, your hometown, or even just taking a break from the campus is an option you will definitely want to have.  WARNING:  Don’t let too many others know you have a vehicle on campus unless you want to be a permanent taxi driver for your peers.

18. Choose Good Professors

The professor that you choose for each of your classes is not a choice to be taken lightly.  Though you may be taking the same stats class as your roommate a difference in professor can be the difference in an entire letter grade.  On you can navigate your way through the comments and opinions of university alumni that have had the professors you’re considering choosing before making a final decision.

19. Find a Favorite Energy Drink

Whether it be finals week or the last minute English paper you forgot was due at 8am, there will come a time when pulling an all-nighter will be the only option.  Make sure you have developed a liking for some type of coffee, red bull, or monster energy drink that will give you a boost of momentum to make it through the night.

20. You Can Never Bring Too Many Hobo Outfits

College is one of the few places where sweatpants, sweatshirts, and tennis shoes are not only accepted but encouraged.  Take full advantage of this wonderful period of life.  Being comfortable is a necessity especially when you know you have a 9am calc class, an 11:00am study session, and a 2:00pm nap scheduled for the day.

21. Keep in Contact with Old Friends

The commencement of the beginning college is also the commencement of the first long term parting of many close relationships between friends.  If those friendships are important to you be sure to keep in contact and stay fully updated on one another’s lives.

22. Bring Movies

No matter if you have a TV in your dorm room or not there will be friends that will.  There’s nothing better than hanging out with your buds on a rainy day watching the Harry Potter marathon.

23. Gather Peer’s Contact Info

You should make it a point to gather phone numbers from the students within each of your classes.  There will be times when you’ll need a way to access the homework assignment or have a question involving the upcoming quiz.

24. Prepare for Responsibility

College involves an excessive amount of self-motivation and hard work.  The only one who is going to complete the assignments and make designated appointments is you.  Learning how to be self-reliant is key to success.

25. Get Acquainted with Professors

The professors that you end up having offer great networking opportunities.  For instance, if you’re working towards becoming a marketing major, attending office hours and actively participating in class will allow you to stand out in the classroom setting.  This can lead to a higher chance at receiving job offers over your fellow classmates.

26. College is a Resume Builder

With the plethora of activities the college campus offers, your resume practically builds itself.  Employers love to see applicants who are diverse in activities and life experiences.

27. Don’t Room w/ Your Bestie

I’ve seen this a countless number of times.  Two very good friends in high school will choose to be roommates upon entering college and the relationship is never the same by the end of the school year.  You don’t want to risk losing someone who you really care about.  Rooming with your best friend also prevents people from branching out and forming new relationships.

28. Wall Calendars

I don’t care how organized you think you may be, college offers too many activities and classes all throughout the day for you to remember it all.  A calendar to hang somewhere in plain sight will remind you of important dates and save you the horrifying aftermath of forgetting your 10am exam.

29. Save Your Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets can be used on more than just your clothing!  Dorm rooms don’t always smell the best… actually, they never do.  Try taking a few extra dryer sheets and placing them over your air conditioning system.  Instant air freshener.

30. Learn How to Study

The classes you’re going to be taking in college demand an intense amount of work OUTSIDE of the classroom.  Meaning, you will need to put in the extra time to learn the material AND review the notes taken from your professor’s lecture from the previous class.

31. Guess What… You Aren’t Stuck

If you sincerely aren’t fully enjoying your college experience then maybe it isn’t the place for you.  There are always other options such as transferring to another university, attending a community college, pursuing your dream, or even taking some time off to find yourself.  There is no sense in making yourself miserable remaining in a place you don’t want to be.

32. Comparing is Pointless

The hard work you’re putting in to your academics and activities is all you should focused on.  The more attention you have on your classmate’s agenda, the more distance you will put between yourself and your goals.

33. Decide Your Major NOW!

You may have been told that you have time to figure out your life pursuits as well as time to discover exactly what career path works for you… in reality this is not the case.  Take the time before entering college to decide what you want to end up majoring in.  In order to choose specific classes related to your goals and build a successful resume with career-related internships, choosing a major early is of the upmost importance.  In doing so you will gain leverage over other applicants fighting for the same position.

34. Avoid Freshman 15

No matter how active you were in high school, your level of activity will decrease drastically upon settling in to the college life.  Try to make it a point to join at least one club, organization, or class on campus that involves some sort of physical activity whether it be an intramural sport or weightlifting class.  The freshman 15 is not a myth!

35. Be Prepared for the Loss of Snap Streaks

Warning:  You will lose snap streaks with people you no longer talk to on a regular basis.  It’s a part of life that can’t be avoided.  Prepare yourself mentally for the grief that will follow.

36. Need New Friends? Join Greek Life

If you’re in hot pursuit for some new people to hang out with, Greek life is a great option.  Once you’re admitted into the sorority/fraternity, you instantly have an entire new group of people to spend time with.  The process allows for great friends to be made with little effort at all!

See Also
How To Balance Your Academics And Social Life In College

37. Party Shoes Are a Must

If any point if you will be an active participant in a college party, your brand new Sperry’s are not the shoes you want to show up in.  Have a designated set of shoes that you wear out to avoid having to throw out your beer soaked Toms.  An old pair of converse will work perfectly!

38. Don’t Skip Class

Just because you can skip class, doesn’t mean you should.  You’re paying good money to attend your classes, get a solid GPA, and most importantly pass!  If you are choosing to continuously sleep through your 9am Bio lecture than maybe college isn’t the right place for you.  You’re an adult now!  Take some responsibility for yourself and make good decisions.

39. Everyone is Weird

College has a very wide range of diversity when it comes to the student body.  Unlike high school, where the majority of students are striving to fit a specific mold, college students tend to just be themselves.  In doing so, you will meet a vast amount of strange and interesting individuals.  Everyone has their own quirks and oddities that make them unique, including you!  Take advantage and embrace new types of people!

40. Get Lit (with decorative lights)

If you don’t invest in some stereotypical Christmas/fairy lights to hang above your bed in your dorm room, you’re not doing college right.  This goes for both sexes by the way!  There’s nothing better than having a trendy set of hanging lights to add a whole new retro vibe to your bland dorm room.

41. You’re Poor. Don’t Forget It

Most college students are living on a budget.  You may be used to either your parents giving you spending money or reimbursing yourself through a paid job.  In college this is usually not the case.  A job is difficult to have during the school semester while juggling a load of classes so most students are dipping into the money they earned the previous summer.  Make sure you don’t go spending all your earnings on a two-month supply of Cool Ranch Doritos.  Save as much as you can! You won’t regret it!

42. Fight Procrastination

Putting off assignments, homework, and studying is so easy to do.  It’s what most of us did during our high school years.  I’m sorry to tell you, this isn’t high school anymore my friends.  College is the pre-game to the frat party.  If you can’t handle the pre-game, how are you ever going to make it when you get to the career part of life?  Learn how to buckle down now and do what needs to be done BEFORE THE LAST MINUTE.

43. Attend Some Football Games

To feel better connected to the school you’re attending, make some time to cheer on your boys! Gaining a bit of school spirit will help you to feel a stronger bond towards your university.

44. Think Like a Germaphobe

You’re no longer living at home.  Everything you come in contact with is being used by the public.  So as you can probably imagine illnesses spread fast on a college campus.  Make washing your hands a priority and be wary of whose hand you’re shaking.  You definitely can’t afford to miss multiple classes.  Don’t be afraid to be the person carrying around hand sanitizer and wet wipes.  You won’t be the one getting sick.

45. Find a Study Spot

There will always be places where you will find yourself being more productive than others.  Some students prefer a quiet environment such as the local library or dorm room while others prefer somewhere with more background buzz such as a nearby café.  Find where you study the best and make it your go-to location when you’re in need of focus time.


46. Your Bed is NOT Your Best Friend

If you’re spending more time in your bed during the day than you are with people, you have a problem.  I can assure you that people you can socialize and interact with make for much better friends.  Don’t miss exciting opportunities by sleeping away your day!

47. Stock up on Socks

The laundry room will literally eat your socks alive.  You can never bring too many pairs of socks.

48. Storage is Key

Get ready to get creative when it comes to fitting all of your things in a small, shared dorm room.  Containers, storage bins, hooks, racks, whatever you end up using to contain all of your personal items, ensure they’re easily accessible and out of the way.

49. Fear Anything on Wheels

In college, many students choose to bring some type of mobile transportation.  This can come in the form of a car, bike, longboard, or scooter.  Always have your guard up when walking to class.  You never know when one of these wheel-riding maniacs is willing to run you over to make it in time.

50. Mistakes Will Be Made

At times you may feel on the verge of a mental breakdown.  Let me ensure you that this is perfectly normal.  There are so many new things to experience for the good and the bad.  Stay open minded and surround yourself will individuals to help you through the tough breakups and drunken regrets.  Keep on keeping on my friends.

Do you have ideas for more essential life hacks for surviving college? Leave a comment or share this article!
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