College is not easy. This is something you will know if you are currently a college student, have already finished college, or have not yet been to college, but have most likely heard said plenty of times, because everyone who is in college won’t stop talking about how very hard being in college actually is. But it’s true! There are many components of the university experience–dorms, late nights, academics, to name but a few–that, when combined, create an experience that is fun, sure, but require a certain amount of diligence and organization to know how to do it successfully.
Fortunately, you definitely can handle it. You just need to do a few things ahead of time to prepare. So, whether you’re in college now or still a few years away, check out these random little things you can do for yourself to make college much easier:
1. Learn how to write a good email:
College is all about mastering the power of emails–you’ll need to send them to your professors, classmates, and RAs to accomplish a number of purposes. So, learn how to write emails that a quick, concise, and get your message (whatever it may be) across well.
2. Learn how to check your email frequently, too:
This might be something you’re already doing. But if email isn’t really your thing, make sure you’re checking it more frequently (or setting up push notifications for your email account). Professors will probably keep you updated on things this way (and if there’s a snow day or randomly cancelled class, you’ll want to know right away), as will people in your clubs and other extracurriculars.
3. Actually read the syllabus:
Seriously. Your professor will probably go over their syllabus on the first day of class, but looking it over yourself will help you realize important dates and your professor’s grading scale–like, maybe they didn’t really emphasize how the “easy” responses for the readings you have to do at the end of every week are actually worth 25 percent of your grade.
4. Get in the habit of using a planner:
Whether it’s in an agenda, a Google calendar, or a bullet journal, you need to write down all of your events and obligations. Even if you usually remember thigns off the top of your head, chances are good that you’ll have so much going on in college, both academically and socially, that you’ll need to have it written down somewhere to keep track of.
5. Create an easy organization system:
Not everyone is going to be able to have a Tumblr-worthy dorm room, but you shouldn’t have a room that swallows all of your things, either. Establish an organization system that you know you’ll actually follow–check some out here.
6. Buy a sleeping mask:
You’ll probably have a few nights in which you want to sleep and your roommate wants to stay up. Instead of kicking them out or writing passive-aggressive notes, get a sleeping mask. You can get good ones that totally cancel out light and will help you fall asleep easier.
7. And a white noise machine:
It is very possible that you will have some loud floormates, too. Get a white noise machine (and/or some earplugs) to help cancel them out.
8. Do your homework the day you get it:
Even if it’s not due until the day after tomorrow or the following week. This way, you’ll be able to do it when it’s fresh on your mind and still have time to ask questions if you don’t understand it.
9. Become friendly with your professors:
If you can, get to know your professors. Obviously, this won’t always be possible in a 500-person lecture, but if you have a smaller class and your professor holds office hours, take advantage of that. This way, your professor will know who you are, know that you care about the class, and might feel inclined to grade you charitably. (Plus, they’ll almost certainly be able to help explain concepts you just don’t understand, too, which can’t hurt.)
10. Assume that everything will be on the test:
I mean, you can ask your professor to be sure. But chances are good that if you’ve read about it in your textbook, and you’ve talked about it in class, it’ll be on whatever exam you have next.
11. Find out if your final is cumulative:
Cumulative final exams (AKA ones that cover everything you’ve talked about throughout a semester) objectively suck, but professors tend to like giving them. So, definitely find out if your exam is cumulative or not ahead of time–you don’t want to walk into an exam thinking you’ve studied everything that you could, but are missing at least five units.
12. Establish a sleeping schedule:
I know that this is an annoying piece of advice because if you could be sleeping more, chances are good that you already would. But having an actual sleep schedule (a “bedtime,” if you will) is just as important as the amount of sleep you get. Deciding to go to bed at the same time every night will help you establish a routine and feel more rested on a day-to-day basis, even if you aren’t actually getting a ton of sleep.
13. Bring a second set of sheets:
So you can have clean sheets (good) without actually doing laundry (also good, but definitely something you’re not going to want to do).
14. Always have an umbrella with you:
Some campuses turn into literal (figurative? No, literal) swamps every time there’s a slight sprinkling of rain. So, make sure you have an umbrella with you, as well as some rain boots.
15. Go to class:
You probably already know this, but you really need to be going to class. Participation points add up, and sometimes professors literally give points away to people who show up to class, so not showing up is a waste. If you can figure out how much money you’re losing by skipping class (each course at Dartmouth, for example, costs over five thousand dollars, which is comparable to many private colleges), you’ll probably never skip again.
Are you in college now? Do you have any tips for fellow college students? Let us know in the comments!