Well, you did it. You graduated high school, applied to college, and got accepted. Sooner than you know it, you’re going to be in the thick of it. You learned a lot of things from kindergarten through senior year, and not just from teachers and textbooks. You also learned the ins and outs of school life itself.
Well, college is a whole new ball game. Not every tip and trick you used to get the most out of high school is going to work in college. You’re going to have to learn a few new ones. Here’s some good advice that we wish we’d had when we first started college:
Fill Out the FAFSA
What is FAFSA? It stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. In other words, it’s a way for you and your parents to save a whole lot of money on an otherwise highly expensive education. College isn’t cheap; we all know that. But FAFSA allows incoming students to apply for all kinds of financial aid services all at once: grants, loans, work-study opportunities, etc.
Instead of forcing you to go into the world searching for help, filling out the FAFSA enables the help to come right to you. Following a review of your application, you’ll receive detailed information on what financial aid programs you do and do not qualify for, and it puts you on the fast track to getting the help you need.
Buy Used Textbooks
“No problem,” you think the first time a college instructor hands you a list of required textbooks, “how much could this could me. After all, they’re just books.” Believe it or not, college-level textbooks are among the priciest things you’ll pay for in college—in some cases even more expensive than a new laptop! And, best of all, you have to buy several new ones… every… single… semester.
While your financial aid package might help cover textbook costs, it’s a good idea to focus on used copies instead of new. Many college bookstores will even have used editions right next to the news one, though these often sell out fast. In that case, look for older students who took the same classes you’re in now; they might be willing to part with their textbooks for cheap. Looking online can be helpful, too. Best of all, used textbooks are usually a better investment, as many still feature helpful highlighting and study notes from their previous owners.
Make Time for Yourself
The most important thing to do in college is also often the hardest thing, and that’s staying sane. Juggling multiple classes, work-study programs, internships, a paying job, clubs, sports, student organizations, and more can be daunting. In fact, if you don’t guard yourself, it’s a pretty definite recipe for burnout.
College is full of great opportunities which you shouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of. It’s so full of opportunities, though, that you shouldn’t feel obligated to try to do everything. Making room in your week for downtime is vital not only for studying, but also for recharging your batteries. Many new students stack their class schedules without leaving themselves time for breaks. Two or four years doing that, though, is hard to maintain.