There’s nothing quite like college: you’re young, there’s what seems like limitless opportunities, and the world is probably more open to you than it will ever be, or at least it seems that way. So why not take advantage of the moment, right? Right. Just make sure you don’t pick up any bad habits along the way:
- Putting off reading, or that paper, or studying for that exam. The nice thing about college is that you have a lot of academic freedom. Often your professor will assign a due date but won’t keep tabs on your progress, meaning it’s your responsibility to get your work done. On the other hand, that could also be one of the worst things about college, especially if you procrastinate. Procrastinating can result in all-night study or work binges, which aren’t fun, efficient, or good for your grade point average. In order to avoid being that person in the library with blood-red eyes and piles of empty coffee cups next to you, put the effort in to get your homework done as it’s assigned instead of when due dates are close.
- Pizza, chicken wings, Chinese takeout, oh my. There’s nothing wrong with ordering some of your favorite food once in a while, especially because you can order it directly to your door instead of having to walk all way to the dining hall. And hey, who doesn’t love a big greasy slice of pizza or two (or ten) once in a while? But if it becomes a regular habit, then not only will your body ask you to take it easy (hey, heart health), but your wallet will start to give you some lip.
- Let’s get wasted! Nah, let’s not. Especially if you’re underage. Not only could you get in trouble, heavy drinking takes its toll on your body, energy levels, and your ability to concentrate.
- Peace and quiet. That’s right, too much peace and quiet is a bad college habit. For real. Think about it: when will you be living so close to all your friends ever again? A little alone time once in a while is good. But sequestering yourself away in your room like it’s your very own Bat Cave? Bad. Get out there and socialize. Enjoy the college experience before it’s over.
- Sticking to the plan. Plans can be helpful. But sticking to them too closely can be too your detriment. College is a place where you should grow as both a student and a person. Push yourself in new ways, whether that means taking classes you never thought you’d take or by participating in an activity you never thought you’d enjoy, because chances are you will.
While public speaking can be uncomfortable or intimidating, it’s an essential skill, especially in college. Whether you have to speak in front of your class, at an academic conference, or at an important event, it’s always good to speak well. Here’s how:
1. Practice, practice, practice. And practice. Like wine, public speaking can be an acquired taste. In order to get used to the feeling of it, practice as much as you can. For example, if you have to give a presentation, practice in front of your mirror, or friends, or family. It might seem silly, but you’ll be glad you did once you’re not stumbling over your words in front of an actual crowd.
2. Find a pace that works. It’s natural to speed up your speech when you’re in front of an audience, which is why you should always tell yourself to slow down. Think about it: no one wants to listen to someone who’s talking too fast. At best it’s annoying. At worst it’s incomprehensible.
3. Learn from the best. You’re paying all that money to be at school, so take advantage of it. Since you already have to sit through class each day, why not try paying attention to how your professors give their lectures? Some professors are rock stars, and can make even the most boring material come to life, while others are as dull as a broken pencil. Either way, take note of what works and what doesn’t. Then imitate as necessary.
4. Make it a routine. If you want to do something well, then you have to do it every day. That’s how you fine-tune a craft. Practice by raising your hand in class to ask or answer questions. In other words: make use of the opportunity to get up and get talking in front of people.
5. Be honest about what you need to improve. Public speaking doesn’t have to be your thing, but it’s a skill you need. So ask for feedback whenever you have the chance. If you make mistakes during a speech or presentation, don’t sweat it. Just remember those mistakes and fix them next time.
If there’s one thing that all students want more of, it’s sleep. There are so many distractions on college campuses that it’s almost impossible to get consistent shuteye, but for your health (and also for your sanity) it’s important you do. In light of that, here are a few tips that may help you sleep better:
1. Get comfortable. It might seem like a lot of cash to dole out up front, but if you hook yourself up with a quality mattress pad an a couple of cozy pillows, every dime spent will be worth it. Remember: a comfortable night’s sleep is a good night’s sleep, and a good night’s sleep is priceless.
2. Ventilate. Dorms rooms can be a little stuffy or stale. To fix that problem, get yourself a portable fan to get the air moving. Besides, a little extra white noise probably won’t hurt either.
3. Avoid naps. If you want to make sure that you sleep better at night, then try not to sleep during the day. If you absolutely can’t function without napping, consider a twenty-minute power nap. Anything longer that may negatively affect your ability to fall asleep later.
4. Flex your muscles. Your creative ones, too. If you exercise during the day then your body will thank you when it’s time to hit the pillow. It’s also a good idea to exercise your mind. For example, try journaling a bit before sleep. Or even try reading something more academic.
5. Stay clean. Even if you’re not a super clean person, keeping a neat room isn’t a bad idea. Too much clutter will likely cause stress, meaning sleep won’t come as easy as you’d like.
6. Watch out for all-nighters. While it might be hard to avoid staying up late into the night-slash-early-morning writing a paper or studying for an exam, don’t make it a habit. Your body may become accustomed to staying up late. If that happens, you may find it hard to go to sleep at a reasonable hour when you actually need to.
7. Set patterns. Knowing when you’ll go to sleep and when you’ll wake up is one of the best (and medically proven) ways to stay rested. We know you can’t go to bed at the same time every day, but sticking as close to a schedule as you can will help zap some of your fatigue.
Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, has put together this nifty infographic for students who are wondering whether or not they qualify for federal student aid. The good news? Most students qualify. Check it out.
The cost of tuition is like an endless elevator that’s always going up. That’s why it pays to save on all your other college costs. Here’s how:
1. Compare student loans. Before you even step foot on campus, get the biggest bang for your buck by obtaining a loan that has affordable interest rates and favorable repayment options. But finding that perfect loan doesn’t have to be hard—just use our free and easy Student Loan Comparison Tool.
2. If you have a meal plan, use it. If you’re paying for a comprehensive meal plan, skip the off-campus restaurants. While delicious, neither fast food nor restaurant faire treats your wallet kindly.
3. Consider living off-campus. Fees pertaining to room and board are costly. If you want to save big, research off-campus housing or apartments opportunities nearby. Then ask around to find some roommates so you can split the rent and you’re on your way to saving hundreds.
4. Don’t drive a car. To avoid the temptation of spending cash on gas and parking tickets, leave your car at home. If you need to get around, use public transportation, school shuttles, or your feet.
5. Find a job on campus. Most college campuses have facilities such as post offices, snack bars, libraries, dining halls, art galleries, and department and administrative offices. Often, student employees compose a large part of the campus workforce. The best part? Getting work means getting paid.
6. Stick to your budget. There’s nothing wrong with going off-campus to enjoy a movie or a night out, but remember that moderation is key. Keep track of your spending money and self-enforce a monthly limit.
7. Use the library. The school library houses tons of free resources: books, movies, music, online databases, internet, study space, etc. Why buy a book, rent a movie, or pay for your own internet connection (or expensive cell phone data plan) when it’s available for free?
8. Brew your own coffee. Buying even one cup of coffee per day at Starbucks or even at a café on campus packs a financial punch that’s hard to recover from. You could easily be spending $100 a month without even knowing it. To save, invest in a coffee pot and brew your own.
9. Use student discounts. If you need to spend money on getting a haircut, or if you want to visit an off-campus resource (e.g. a museum), then show your student I.D. You might just score a discount.
10. Plan your week. Small expenses add up, so plan accordingly. For example, wait until you have a full load of dirty laundry before you feed the washing machine your quarters. Remember: every penny counts.