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.
Now’s the time to start focusing on your midterms. Performing well on exams isn’t just a matter of being smart, it’s a matter of being prepared. Here’s how:
- Start studying as early and as often as you can. Don’t cram all night immediately before exams. Instead, study for shorter periods of time on a more regular basis. This encourages long-term data retention instead of temporary memorization.
- Study during daylight hours. Doing it at night means you’re probably doing it tired. Tired people don’t focus well or retain as much.
- Exercise before you study. Take a jog, ride a bike, or chase a squirrel. The movement will increase blood flow to your brain. Brains with blood in them work better.
- Study in different places. According to the New York Times, just switching study spots each time you study increases data retention. Come up with a routine. Hit the library, the coffee shop, your dorm room, and whatever study lounges you can find. The point here: variety is important.
- Know your ideal environment. If you study best in a group, find one. If you like your silence, skip the aforementioned coffee shop. Know how your brain works, where you can and can’t focus, and make the extra effort to find conditions you excel under.
If you think textbooks cost more than they should, then welcome to the club. So do we. Fortunately ValoreBooks helps you buy or rent the books you need at prices you can actually afford. We compare millions of books from thousands of sellers, meaning you save up to 90% off everything! But did you know there are reasons textbooks actually should be expensive, at least from an economic perspective? Check it out:
- Textbooks have smaller markets. Textbooks are inherently specialized and therefore not meant for general circulation. Yet production costs like paying authors, designing the book, printing it, distributing it, and so on, remain almost constant. It’s a lesson in mass production: the more you make, the cheaper the per-unit cost becomes. Unfortunately this is bad news for textbooks, which have small audiences and therefore small print runs. That means each individual book needs to cost more.
- Printing textbooks costs more than printing a novel. Does your textbook have lots of graphics, colors, charts, photographs, or laminated pages? The cost per printed page drastically increases if so.
- Textbook publishers view the used book market as lost revenue. When you buy or sell a used textbook, the publisher doesn’t make any money. You or a reseller does. To adjust for this, publishers increase the initial cost of that book-almost making up for lost future sales.
The lesson here? Compare books before you buy them. Find a price you can afford. Buy used instead of new. Or rent if you don’t need to keep the book. Do it with ValoreBooks and you could even save up to $500 a year on your textbook spending!