How to survive your first year of college

You have arrived: no longer just a lowly high school student, you are finally a mature, intelligent, independent college student. Now what?

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  • You have arrived: no longer just a lowly high school student, you are finally a mature, intelligent, independent college student. Now what? Well take it from someone who knows, living on your own and taking a full load of college classes is a lot harder than you’ll ever have imagined.

  • For instance, did you know that toilet paper doesn’t replenish itself? Or that dinner won’t magically be there when you walk in the door in the evening? And your college professors certainly aren’t going to hold your hand while you take notes on their lectures. Here are a few other tips that might help you out as you attempt to survive your first year of college.

  • Make friends with your roommates

  • For better or for worse, you’re going to be sharing living quarters with these people for the next few months and it will be in your best interest to be on good terms with them. Your roommates have the potential to become some of your best friends during your college career. Conversely, if you don’t make an effort to get along with them, they can make coming home to your apartment a nightmare.

  • Get to know the library

  • It will behoove you to know your way around campus in general, but the library will be an especially important location for you to memorize. You’ll find that your apartment can be full of distractions so the library will be your best friend when it comes time to do homework. It’s also full of resources — like reference books, reliable internet, and librarians — that are expressly available for your convenience.

  • Budget your money

  • Small expenditures will add up more quickly than you realize and you don’t want to have to beg food or money off your roommates if you over-spend. Figure out how much you can spend per month by predicting your expenses (rent, food, gas, school supplies, etc.) and then commit to stick to that budget. If you have extra money at the end of the month or if you run out early, adjust your budget for the next month. According to an article in the New York Times, the top reason the [college] dropouts gave for leaving college was that it was just too hard to support themselves and go to school at the same time. Don’t let this be your reason for not getting your degree.

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  • Balance work and fun

  • College is supposed to be about furthering your education and learning marketable skills to help you in an eventual job search, but that doesn’t mean you have to sleep in the library or lock yourself in your room for the duration of the semester. Make sure you take at least one night a week off to do something fun. Otherwise, you’re likely to get burnt out on schoolwork. That won’t be good for your educational or social life.

  • College can be one of the most fun periods of your life. It can also be one of the hardest and most frustrating. Don’t make the same rookie mistakes as other college freshmen. You can do better than just survive your first year of college; follow these tips and breeze through it with flying colors.

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Katie Nielsen received her bachelor's in English with an emphasis in technical writing. She has taught English and is a published writer.

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