Going away to college is one of the most exciting times of your life, but it can also be one of the scariest. Being on your own for the first time is a great feeling, but there’s probably a lot that you don’t know about living without your parents simply because you haven’t experienced them yet. As a new college student, here are several things you should learn before you go to prepare you for living at college. Once you have learned these important skills, living at college will be a lot easier, and you’ll be much more prepared for this exciting new life.
Learn About Your Finances
For many students, college is the first time they have had their own checking account and credit cards. Credit card companies prey on college students heavily, and before you know it, you may be in more debt than you thought possible. Before filling out any credit card applications, do your research! Get one card that doesn’t charge any monthly or yearly fees, has a low interest rate for the life of the card (not just a low introductory rate that skyrockets later), and preferably has incentives that you can use, like cash back. Educate yourself on the dangers of compound interest; use this Credit Card Interest Tutorial Video to better understand how long it will really take you to pay off your purchases and how much they will cost you in the long run.
If you are opening up a checking account, make sure you get one with no monthly or yearly fees, is linked to a debit card, and is a bank branch that is easily accessible in and around campus so you can access money when you need it. Know the terms of your account, especially penalties for being overdrawn. To avoid this error, learn how to properly balance your checkbook, and don’t rely on ATM receipts for an accurate balance, as many times these do not reflect recent transactions or paid bills. This tutorial will quickly and easily show you how to balance your checkbook and keep your finances in check.
Lastly, make sure you have an emergency fund for things like medical copays, car repairs, etc. Have this fund in cash and don’t access it unless there’s an emergency. Being away from home can be scary, and having this fund can give you security that if something goes wrong, you’re prepared to deal with it.
Learn How To Schedule Classes
Depending on where you go to college, your choices for the first semester’s worth of classes can be overwhelming. Compound that with the pressure of picking a major, and it can be extremely daunting to put together a class schedule. For your first year of college, most students need a core of basic courses no matter their major. Get these out of the way first; that way, even if you change your major, you won’t be backtracking and trying to catch up from having taken too many specialized classes in a different major. Also, this is a great way to be introduced to the pace and flow of college classes. Unlike most high school experiences, college classes aren’t conducted everyday, assignments are different and many are more long-term, and the workload can be intense. Taking basic classes with other freshmen will help you ease your way into the experience and get support from other peers in the same boat.
When you choose your classes, don’t overload yourself your first semester. Most students can handle between 15 and 18 credit hours well a semester, so start on the low end and see how you do. You can always adjust your schedule the next semester, adding or taking away classes as you need. Also, take into account how you best function. If you’re a morning person, schedule the majority of your classes before lunch; if you like to sleep in, you probably don’t want to schedule a class before 10 or 11am. If you take your body into account, you’ll be much more awake and refreshed to learn instead of torturing yourself at an unrealistic time.
Learn the Basics
Knowing some basic living skills will make living at college on your own go a lot more smoothly. To make sure you’re not walking around in wrinkled, faded clothing, learn how to sort and do laundry. Know the difference between washing in hot and cold, regular and delicate. Stock up on quarters for the machines so that you’re not caught without clean clothes, and pick a detergent that agrees with your skin. Here’s a basic laundry tutorial that will have you washing your clothes like a pro in no time.
Make sure you understand basic nutrition and eat right. College is full of junk food temptations from the soft serve ice cream machine in the cafeteria to late night pizza runs. If you’re not careful, you’ll be packing on the dreaded “freshman 15” in no time and may make yourself sick in the process. Understand the basic food groups, how and what you should eat for good health, and what foods to stay away from in general. Be careful of over-consumption of things like sugar and caffeine, and make sure you get enough sleep. Use this website to learn about basic nutritional guidelines, proper serving sizes, and the best foods to eat.
If you follow these simple steps and guidelines, your first year as a college student will go much more smoothly. Knowing these basic principles can make the difference between a more relaxed semester and one filled with unnecessary stress. Take the time to educate yourself now and have a great college experience.
Living Healthy in College Dorms