Now that I’m nearing the end of my first semester as a college student, there are so many things I would do differently to make my days a little easier and less stressful. Here are 20 life hacks at Iowa State that will help both freshmen and seniors!
1. Make your room as similar to home as possible.
Bring little things from home to your dorm as well. For example, at home I have string lights around my room that I love turning on at night for a dim look. I bought an identical set and brought them to my dorm to make it feel like I’m at home. This really helps to not feel as homesick.
2. Utilize a planner.
A planner in college will be your best friend. Write down anything and everything so that you never forget to do anything. You’re going to have a lot of stuff going on, and keeping (and color-coding) a planner will help you stay on track!
3. You’re probably going to cry way more than you’re used to.
Chances are you didn’t cry a lot in high school (maybe you did, that’s okay too) but you’ll probably find yourself crying more in college. Sometimes stress will build-up and you will find yourself crying about things you’d never thought you would.
4. Do laundry on a week day.
Don’t be that person that says “I’m going to do my laundry every Sunday afternoon” because you will be just like every other student in your building. Do your laundry on a Tuesday at 2 if you don’t want to wait for a dryer with sopping wet clothes.
5. Know that college students eat alone, and they don’t mind it.
As a college student, I have eaten many lunches/dinners alone. Sometimes, I’m eating on the go, sometimes I just want to sit in the Memorial Union and watch Netflix while I eat a burrito, and sometimes no one is available to eat with me. I’ve never minded eating alone. Most of the time when you look around the Memorial Union, everyone is eating alone while doing work or watching something on their laptops. It’s honestly so relaxing and a nice break from studying every once in a while.
6. It’s also okay to be alone.
College is the time to find yourself. It’s okay to spend time with yourself and only yourself. You should want to go explore a new building on campus or a café and study there. I’ve found a new love for the bio-renewables building and I’m a journalism major. Alone time as a college student is crucial.
7. You don’t have to study 24/7.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t study, but don’t keep your nose in your books all the time. Every now and then, you need to stop and have a little fun. No one wants to look back at their college years and remember that all they did was study for exams. Your GPA is important, but so are the memories you’ll make with the friends that will last a lifetime.
8. Make school a priority.
Call me crazy, but you’re paying to go to school. If you’re constantly skipping class and not studying for exams, think about all of the money you are wasting! Of course you should get out and have fun, but if you skip one class, you’re wasting about $90. Skip three classes in one day, and you’re wasting roughly $270. It’s not worth it. Even if the class is “pointless” to attend. (Chances are they wouldn’t have the class if it was entirely pointless!)
9. Naps are necessary.
I have yet to meet a college student that gets by without napping every now and then. Whether it’s a 20-minute nap or a 3 hour nap, chances are you need it. Your brain can’t take endless hours or learning and working, so give it a break every now and then!
10. Take advantage of “rate my professor” when registering for classes.
Ratemyprofessor.com is a website that is created strictly for rating professors. People that have already taken the course fill out a “report” about their professor and post it while sharing how hard or easy the course is, and how they feel about the professor as a person. This is one of the most helpful things you can do for yourself before each semester starts! (Fill them out for others too. College students helping college students is amazing!)
11. Even if a professor says class is “optional” you should still go.
Whenever a professor says a class is “optional” it means we are reviewing for the exam, and chances are you’re going to get all of the answers for the exam, or something close to it. Even though it may sound tempting to skip, it might help your grade A LOT to go!
12. Take advantage of review sessions!
Although review sessions are usually held at times that aren’t as convienient, they are so helpful for exams. If you’re professor is going out of his/her way to hold something to help the class, it can’t hurt to go. My food science professor will send out a study guide for every exam, and hold a review session to go over every question on the study guide. It doesn’t hurt to go. You’re paying thousands of dollars to go to college, take advantage of free resources!
13. Rent or buy used text books as much as possible.
There is literally NO point in buying a brand new textbook unless you absolutely have to. I’ve only used 3 of my 6 textbooks this semester. Buying a textbook brand new and then never using it can make such an unnecessary dent in your wallet. Buying all rented/used books will save most students around $200 versus buying all brand new textbooks.
14. Take advantage of extra credit opportunities.
Some of the things I’ve done to get extra credit have been kind of silly, but if a professor offers extra credit, there really is no reason to not jump on it. Having extra credit in your back pocket gives you wiggle room if you feel that you might not do well on exam/assignment. Failing or not doing well on an exam is much more comforting if you have something to fall back on!
15. Don’t take the elevator from the 1st floor to the 2nd floor.
Don’t take the elevator if you’re on one floor and you’re only going up one floor. I can promise you right now, the people on the elevator will hate you and they will not be quiet when talking crap about you.
16. Eat the food you want, but still make room on your plate for fruits, veggies, etc.
Although there are many studies saying that the “freshman 15” isn’t a thing, that doesn’t mean it can’t still happen. It’s not hard to gain weight in college while making your own eating (and alcohol drinking) decisions. My best advice to avoid the freshman 15 is to eat healthy 75% of the time and avoid things like elevators and the CyRide!
17. When studying, Quizlet will be your best friend.
If you’ve never heard of Quizlet, you’re in for a real treat. Quizlet.com is a website online that allows you to create your own flashcards and use other people’s already created flashcards. Quizlet also has an app for iPhones/Androids, so you can study while waiting in line for coffee.
18. The Caribou Coffee line is ALWAYS long.
The line at Caribou is always ridiculously long. If you’re going to go and you want to avoid waiting in line, go right before class gets out. For example, 8:00 classes are out at 8:50, so go at 8:40 if you don’t want to wait in line for 15 minutes.
19. Find a place to study on campus that you love.
Studying is DREADFUL, but it’s so much better if you’re in your favorite place. Being somewhere that makes you feel comfortable and relaxed is essential for being productive.
20. Figure out which shower head in the bathroom is your favorite.
Chances are, whichever shower head is your favorite is going to be everyone else’s favorite too. You’ll find yourself only using that one and you’ll probably find yourself waiting for that one instead of using the others.