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25 Super Important Things Every College Student Needs To know

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College is a time of discovery and growth, but it can also be stressful, confusing, and scary. You have to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life while simultaneously trying to get over the fact that you don’t know how to do laundry anymore. It’s a lot. So here are 25 tips from people who have been there — people like me and my friends who (mostly) found their way out of all this college confusion not too long ago. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but these are some of the things I wish I had been told as an incoming freshman — things that would have made my four years a little easier.

Use the Syllabus:

Your syllabus is a document that contains all of your professor’s expectations for you. It should include:

  • What they expect from you
  • What you should be doing in class (like when to do homework, or what assignments are due)
  • What readings are required for the class

Don’t Freak Out if You Can’t Find Your “Thing” Yet:

You may have a passion for writing and playing the violin, but that doesn’t mean your life is over if you end up changing majors or dropping out of college. You can be many things at once, or none at all!

You don’t need to know what your “thing” is yet because there’s no rush. You’re only in college for four years (maybe five if you want a master’s degree), so it’s likely that you’ll find something else to love before then. In fact, most students change their minds about their major multiple times during college; more than half of students change their major at least once!

Don’t worry about having one thing that defines who you are because there isn’t one specific thing that defines anyone anyway—you can do whatever makes sense for where your interests lie right now without forcing yourself into doing anything else just yet. Try new things and see what sticks with you (or not).

Your Career Won’t Suck Just Because You Went To Community College:

So many people make the assumption that going to community college means your career will suck. But this is just not true! Community college can be a great way to get started in your career and gain experience in a field before moving on to graduate school or working at one of the best companies in the world.

Community colleges are also more flexible than traditional four-year schools, making it easier for you to work part-time while taking classes full-time. This might mean internships, part-time jobs or even starting your own business on the side. In fact, over 70% of Fortune 500 CEOs graduated from a community college!

Create a Personal Budget:

  • Make a personal budget. This is not a step you can skip. If you don’t create a budget and stick to it, your college years are going to be filled with financial stress and frustration.
  • Include all of your expenses in the personal budget: rent/mortgage, transportation costs (including parking fees), utilities (power, water, and internet), entertainment costs (dining out or buying movies/music), groceries, clothing purchases, etc. It’s important that you include all of these things because it will help keep them from sneaking up on you later on when they’re due.
  • Set aside money for emergencies in case something happens unexpectedly like car repairs or an injury. Money set aside for emergencies should come out of savings first before paying other bills so that it doesn’t deplete your savings too much at one time!
  • Set aside enough money for taxes throughout the year so that come April when everyone else is getting theirs back from their employers or government tax return checks; you don’t get stuck owing Uncle Sam lots of cash!

Take Advantage of Your Time Abroad … Even When It’s Hard To Do So:

  • Take advantage of your time abroad. Even when it’s hard to do so.
  • This may sound obvious, but you’re in a unique position at this point in your life: You get to go abroad for an entire semester! That’s a huge opportunity that might not come around again for another four years or more. If you go through with it (and if you should), take full advantage of the chance to learn about a new culture, meet new people, try out new things and get out of your comfort zone. It will make all the difference when it comes time to reflect on how beneficial this experience was for yourself as well as how worthwhile it is for future students who want similar experiences but can’t afford them—or just don’t have access right now.

It’s also worth pointing out that travel can be very helpful in improving foreign language skills and general knowledge about other cultures and traditions in ways that aren’t always possible on campus alone.*

Join a Club That Meets in Person, Not on Facebook.

  • You might think your club is better because it uses Facebook to communicate and gets things done. You’re wrong.
  • Clubs that meet in person are more fun, more rewarding, and more productive. Your members will be more likely to stay on board with the organization once they’ve met other members in person. They’ll also be able to contribute ideas in a way that’s easier for everyone else to understand and make use of!

Go to Office Hours Often – Even if You Don’t Need Help with Your Classwork:

Office hours are an excellent way to get to know your professor, especially if you’re not taking a course from them. Professors often have office hours in the evenings and on weekends. You can go to office hours even when you don’t need help with your classwork. The reason they do this is that it’s their job as a professor (and probably also because they like talking about themselves).

During office hours, students ask questions about their classes, research projects, and/or writing assignments. The best thing about going to these meetings is that sometimes other students will also be there asking questions too! This gives you an opportunity to make new friends who share similar interests as yourself — something that can be hard during college since everyone has different majors/minors and career goals after graduation

If someone does not have any specific questions for the professor but would still like feedback on their writing or presentation skills then this would be an appropriate time for them to meet privately with their teacher outside of class time at their convenience

Network Before you Need It:

Network before you need it.


If there’s one thing that will make or break your career, it’s the people in your network. You can have all the skills and talent in the world, but if no one knows who you are and what you’re capable of, how will anyone hire you?

It’s easy to think about networking as something that happens after we find ourselves without work or an opportunity. But what if we could actually start building our network before we’re out of school and in need of these things? By making connections now, we’re not only helping ourselves but also putting ourselves in a position where those same people can help us down the line (and vice versa).

Get Off-Campus Every Once in a While:

It’s easy to get too into your school work, especially when you’re taking classes that are challenging. It’s important to remember that there’s a whole world outside of the classroom and campus. If you don’t take time out of your day to do this, then you might lose sight of what it was like before college and how much more there is out there for you now. You need to explore other opportunities before choosing which ones will work best for your goals in life!

Take a Writing Class (And Actually Go)

You can take a writing class and not go. You can take a writing class and not do the homework. You can take a writing class and not take any of it seriously, but you shouldn’t. Writing is important to your education because:

  • It helps you learn to express yourself in an effective way.
  • It helps you learn how to think critically, creatively, logically, etc., about things that matter (and sometimes don’t).
  • It allows your brain to make connections between different pieces of information—and those connections are going to be the foundation of everything else that happens in college

Use Your Library’s Resources, Especially the Tutors and Plagiarism Software:

If you’re like me, you’re a pretty fast learner and can figure out how to use most new things without much trouble. But there’s no shame in asking for help when it comes to using the library’s resources. I was lucky enough to have a friend who used the campus library all the time to tell me what each resource was good for and show me how they worked. When he took me around one day, he made sure that I understood everything before we left so it wouldn’t be confusing when I came back alone. It also helps that they’re all available online or through apps on your phone.

Make Friends with People Older Than You:

To be successful in college, you need to make friends with people who are older than you. Older people have more experience and can help you with school, career, and life in general.

  • Older people can help with your homework
  • They can give advice on how to deal with problems that you’re facing in college (like studying for exams)
  • If you want a job after graduation, they can help you get one

Shut Up and Listen (to people older than you)

On the surface, this seems like a no-brainer. And it is—but it’s also about more than just listening to people your age or younger. It’s about listening to people older than you. Because what they have to offer can be invaluable for your success in school and beyond.

When you listen to people older than you, here are some of the things that should be on your mind:

  • What they have to say (obviously)
  • What they don’t say
  • The tone of their voice (are they calm, stressed out?)
  • How their body language fits with their words (does she look relaxed or nervous?)
  • Their stories (what has happened in their lives?)
  • Their experiences (“I once had an experience where…”). These are often very different from yours; keep an open mind when hearing them because sometimes these stories will resonate with yours and give perspective into how things work differently in other environments!

Learn How To Take Criticism — It’ll Make Writing Rec Letters for Jobs and Grad Schools so Much Easier in the Long Run:

  • Learn how to take criticism — it’ll make writing rec letters for jobs and grad schools so much easier in the long run.
  • If a professor or mentor gives you feedback on your work, listen carefully and consider it without feeling attacked.
  • Criticism can be hard to hear, but it’s a way for people who care about you to help build skills that will serve you well later in life. It can give you insight into areas where further improvement is necessary, or even just help convince you that what was written isn’t worth keeping around anymore.

Don’t let others pressure you into things, no matter how much they brag about participating/joining/doing/wearing/etc., whatever it is they’re pressuring you into doing.

Don’t let others pressure you into things, no matter how much they brag about participating/joining/doing/wearing/etc., whatever it is they’re pressuring you into doing.

Don’t let other people’s opinions of you impact your own opinions of yourself.

Don’t let other people’s opinions of you impact your actions.

Don’t let other people’s opinions of you impact your decisions.

And certainly don’t allow anyone to ruin your life with their thoughts on what YOU should be doing!


It’s important to try as many things as possible because then you’ll have a better idea of what it is you like and don’t like, which makes it easier to narrow down your choices. Besides, who wants to be 80 years old and wonder “what if?” The best part about college is that the world is your oyster: You are free to do whatever you want with your life, and there are all sorts of people around you who are willing, able, and ready to help you get there.