With so many college majors to choose from—everything from engineering to education to art—picking what you study may feel like the hardest choice of your life. After all, the decision impacts your future: what kind of job you might have, whether you need to go to graduate school, how much you can expect to earn after you graduate, and more. But to make the decision a bit easier, here are some tips that show you how to choose a college major:
The beauty of not knowing what your major should be is that you can sample everything: music, history, math, English, whatever. In fact, that’s what college is all about, isn’t it? Discovering who you are and what you like. So try a bunch of different classes, especially as a freshman. The only rule here: be open to new things.
2. Seek advice
Before you rush into making a choice, talk to your academic advisor, other professors, career services if your school offers it, your parents, and peers. Take their suggestions into account and make a mental chart of the pros and cons of each major you’re interested in.
3. Choose what you’re passionate about
If you still can’t make a decision, think about what you love. Do you spend a lot of time listening to or playing music? Is your nose always in a book? Get a thrill out of crunching numbers? Trust your gut, follow your passion, and you won’t make the wrong choice.
4. Consider your skills
In college you may discover that your skills overlap with your academic interests, so start by taking stock of your talents. Are you a naturally gifted writer? Do you like to build things in your spare time? Do you draw for fun? Are you good at puzzles? Every talent has an applicable field of study—all you have to do is figure out what it is.
5. Think about what you want to do after you graduate
Let’s face it: college is supposed to prepare you for a job. That means your field of study will influence where you work and what you do. So it pays to think ahead. What kind of work might you be interested in down the line? Write all your ideas down. Then do a little research. What are the educational requirements for each job and what majors best fulfill them? Now match your skills and passions to that list.
Tuition, books, room and board, and life in general cost more than they should. But you work hard for your money, so don’t let the cost of college break the bank. All you need to do is become a savvy spender. Here are 5 ways to save money in college:
The best way to save money in college is to think about spending before you do it. Start by putting a limit on your monthly expenditures. Avoid exceeding that limit at all costs! To choose a number, consider the following: conservative estimates are better and no budget should exceed the income that funds it. In other words, don’t dip into your savings if you don’t have to.
2. Make use of your student ID.
You know what’s awesome about being a student? Student Discounts! You’d be surprised how often and how much you’ll save on food, entertainment, transportation, museums, and more. As a student, you even qualify for an International Student Identity Card, which can save you boatloads on travel! A rule of thumb to maximize your savings: every time you spend money, get in the habit of asking if there’s a student discount.
3. Buy in bulk.
Don’t resort to sample-sized bottles of toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, or food items that don’t spoil. Go big and save money. Better yet, go big during a sale and stock up when all your essentials are cheap. You’ll spend a bit more at the register, but over time you’ll save money.
4. Enjoy free fun.
Eating out at restaurants or going into the city can cost a pretty penny, so why not enjoy free campus activities instead? Most campuses host screenings, lectures, dances, parties, concerts, and more—all free of charge. Check your school’s events calendar for leads.
5. Use cash instead of credit.
The nice thing about cash is that you can’t spend more than you have. If you spend more than you have with a credit card, and don’t pay your bill at the end of the month, you’ll get stuck with late fees or interest payments. That’s wasted money! Plus, according to psychologists, people tend to spend less when they’re using cash. Apparently the physical act of handing someone money—and actually seeing your wallet get thinner—isn’t as enjoyable as you thought.
Going to college is an inevitable time of transition in which you leave home, branch out, and get educated. But college can be a tricky place to navigate. You’ve got to balance your social life with your work life with your study life while also trying to figure out who you are and what interests you. But these survival tips can make that process easier.
Here are 7 college survival tips you should know:
1. Get to know your professors
While you probably won’t make friends with your professors, or hang out with them on weekends, it certainly pays to invest time in being an active participant in class, visiting them during office hours, and communicating with them via email. Not only will it boost your grade, but the strong ties you forge will be useful down the line, especially when it comes time to ask for a recommendation.
2. Read and follow the syllabus
Remember that thing college professors give you at the beginning of term? Don’t lose it. You’ll save yourself tons of headaches. Your syllabus contains all the vital information you need to pass a class: how to complete assignments and when they’re due, late work policies, contact information, and more.
3. Check your school email address regularly
Your professors and your major department will use your school email address to contact you about everything from department events to class cancellations to scholarship opportunities, and more. Try to sync the email address to your phone so you immediately receive any information you need to know.
4. Explore your eating options on and off campus
Nothing’s worse than eating at a dining hall day in, day out. Take the time and see what else is out there. Start on campus, then work into the surrounding neighborhoods. Flash your student ID and you may even be able to score discounts on good eats.
5. Make friends
College is easier with friends at your back, so get involved in class, chat with neighbors or hall-mates, or befriend your roommate. Also join extracurricular activities. Clubs and intramural sports are a great and easy way to build a community.
6. Don’t party too much
Remember, you’re paying for college. Don’t waste the opportunity by sleeping in and missing class.
7. Don’t make studying your only priority
College is about more than just getting a degree. It’s about making lifelong friends, about traveling, about trying new things. Make time to embrace the experience.
Benjamin Franklin once said there were only two certainties in this world: death and taxes. But we’d like to add the high cost of college to that list. Even after tuition you’ve got room and board, textbooks, and living and travel expenses to consider. But all is not lost!
Here are 7 ways to earn extra cash in college:
1. Get a job on campus
So what if you have to actually work for your money? On-campus jobs are great. You get paid, have flexible working hours, and don’t need a car or a transit pass to commute to work. You can even earn money in between classes! Some jobs, like working at the library, may also allow you to get homework done. The only catch is that on campus jobs are in high demand, so get your application in early.
2. Donate plasma
If you’re not afraid of needles, donating plasma can be a great, easy, and conscientious way of earning money—usually between $20 and $40 per donation! Better yet, you can donate up to twice a week. Thankfully there are plasma donation centers all over the USA. To find one near you, check out DonatingPlasma.
3. Sell used stuff online
Got used textbooks lying around? Or used video games? Or even a used iPhone? Sell them for more money with ValoreBooks. Online price quotes are instant and shipping is free. The best part? ValoreBooks has the highest sell-back prices in the industry, meaning you always get more money from them than from anyone else.
4. Participate in research studies
The good thing about being on a college campus is that there are often research studies going on—which are often compensated. They could be medical, psychological, or even social, but play guinea pig and you’ll definitely get rewarded!
5. Babysit, pet-sit, or house-sit
6. Save your change
You’d be surprised how much your pocket change is worth. Keep a jar on your desk and save up your pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. Don’t leave them under the couch cushions or lost at the bottom of your purse.
7. Have a yard sale
Uncluttering your life is rewarding for two reasons: it frees up room in your living space and scores you some extra money. Get rid of old clothes, old frames, old furniture—anything you’re not using anymore. Chuck that stuff out on the grass, throw up a few yard sale signs, then kick back and relax.
The key to keeping college affordable is managing all your money all the time, so if you have a tendency to overspend then it’s time to curb that habit. Here are the do’s and don’ts of managing money in college:
1. Make a budget—including an “extraneous” fund. Every month you should put a limit on your spending. Then desperately avoid exceeding that limit! The number you choose should be conservative and should never exceed your income. After all, you don’t want to dip into savings if you don’t have to and you certainly don’t want to accrue any debt that’s not related to your education. As an aside, the budget should include an allowance for entertainment. Planning how much you spend on fun makes it easier to avoid spending too much.
2. Distinguish between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. When deciding how to spend your money, it’s important to remember that needs come first. For example: you probably need a basic computer but probably want an expensive model that plays games. Resist the urge to upgrade and put the savings to better use.
3. Use your meal plan (if you have one). A common mistake college students make is having a meal plan and not using it, either because they don’t like the food in the dining hall or because other options are more convenient. But if you’re going to restaurants or grocery stores instead of using a meal plan you already paid for, you’re essentially paying double for your food.
4. Save on textbooks. Why pay campus bookstore prices when you can save up to 90% on textbooks when you buy or rent with ValoreBooks? It’s an obvious matter of math: saving 90% means you could spend $500 less every year on books.
1. Rack up debt. The most important rule of money management is to never spend more than you earn. In college, this rule is particularly important. The best way to avoid debt is to cut up your credit card. Use debit or cash instead.
2. Visit the coffee shop every day. Why pay $4-$5 for specialty coffee when it’s just caffeine you’re after? Brew drip coffee at home to save over $100 a month. Then apply this rule to other small, frequent expenditures to see how much money you can save.
3. Borrow too much money. When you’re considering federal or private student loans, it’s important to borrow smartly—which means never borrowing more than you need. That’s why creating the budget mentioned above is so important. If you borrow too much then you’re paying interest on money you’re not spending. Or you’re spending the extra money just because it’s available, which means you’re spending too much. It’s a lose-lose situation. Just remember to compare your options.