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46 College Tips to Survive Freshman Year


College life is best enjoyed with a little bit of everything — studying, day drinking, and passing classes (while not passing out). Here we offer some awesome college tips for incoming freshman who need all the advice and then some.

It might be hard. You may want to bawl your eyes out some days. But you will survive (likely in sweatpants with a smudge of leftover Ben & Jerry’s), and you will make it through the next 4-ish years.

Read on for the best college freshman tips to get you pumped up for the longest (and most educational) party of your life.

Tips for Studying

College requires studying. Unless you were born with a photographic memory. Get ready to take notes until your hand cramps and your brain hurts.

Also: It’s okay to be mad at the nerds who never have to study. We are, too.

1. Get to class. It means you make more friends, and you can study less. Win-win. Plus, taking your own notes benefits you in the moment and later when you’re studying.

2. Form a nerd squad. After lectures, or a few days before a big exam, join forces with the other smarties in your class. Creating a study group builds new friendships, and you can quiz one another on class material and life’s biggest questions. You could even get squad jackets, because everyone loves squad gear.

3. Get flashy. Writing out your own flash cards will help you remember key terms and definitions while imprinting the information in your mind. It’s the next best thing to that photographic memory you were wishing for.

4. Find what works for you. So what if you look like a dork sitting in the front row. However you learn, use it to your advantage. Take a learning style assessment to discover your secret learning superpowers.

5. Read ahead. Don’t hate on the books. Hate the professor who assigns the homework. JK, JK. But, seriously, reading ahead means the lecture material won’t be foreign, and you’ll actually know the answer if the professor calls on you while you’re texting under your desk.

6. Multitasking is a myth. It’s unlikely you can absorb engineer statistics material while listening to heavy metal and clipping your toenails. Just sayin’. One thing at a time.

7. Take five. Studying the same material for hours on end will drive you insane. Take breaks after 50 minutes or so. When you hit a mind block, go for a walk, talk to your cat, or zone out while staring at your favorite poster.

8. Breathe. In and out. Your tears will cause your notes to streak, and that’s not really helpful for studying. Plus, how awkward is it for your roomie to walk in on you crying over your homework? Take a breath. Tell yourself it will be okay — eventually it will be.

9. Be a deadline ninja. Deadlines and exam dates are sneaky little things. Buy a calendar and plot your deadlines and exams well in advance to prep accordingly. A BuJo is a good way to do this.

10. Party all day, study all night. We actually wouldn’t advise anyone to do that. So don’t.

Tips for Eating Well

The freshman 15 is no joke. Those 15 pounds will find you and cling to you for dear life. Just like your teary-eyed mom did as you were leaving for college.

11. Slow down, speedy. Unless you’ve entered a fraternity hot dog eating contest, take a breath between your bites. It takes about 20 minutes for your mind to register you’re full. Eat mindfully and you’ll be less likely to overeat while watching reruns of New Girl.

12. Breakfast is for winners like yourself. Skipping breakfast could mean overeating later on when you’re starving. A soda isn’t food, either. Making an easy recipe, like overnight oats the night before, will give you no excuse to skip the most important meal of the day. Or, grab some trail mix for a good source of protein and energy.

13. Sugar is kryptonite. Everyone loves an ice-cold bottled frappuccino, but the calories (and sugar) are excessive. Plus, it’s addictive. If you need an energy bump, consider hot tea with honey or a good workout prior to heading to class.

14. Hide the veggies. We don’t mean hide them from yourself. Just disguise them in your food. Add vegetables to your Ramen noodles, or consider blending in some spinach or kale in a morning smoothie to trick yourself into healthy eating. Gross, but totally effective.

15. Vitamins aren’t just for kids. You can’t get all your vitamins from sunshine and air. But, we hear there’s a fine little pill (or gummy) called a vitamin to keep you healthy. Take daily for awesome hair and strong pearly whites.

16. Balance your meals. Don’t order fries with everything. It’s not a veggie if it’s fried. Even if it tastes really, really good.

17. Sushi ain’t cheap. We know it’s good. And we know it’s healthy. But we bet your parents won’t love seeing sushi as the main contributor to your credit card debt. Find all the local food hot spots where broke college kids go. Taco Tuesdays will have a whole new meaning for you.

18. Chug H2O, not beer. If college kids did keg stands with water instead of beer, freshman 15 probably wouldn’t exist. Drink lots of water to keep your brain sharp and your body happy.

19. Pizza isn’t the only food group. If you’ve never cooked in your life, you might feel like cooking for yourself is a lot like an episode of MasterChef — high pressure with lots of burned food. Sandwiches, salads, and smoothies are healthy and easy to make. No stove required.

20. Get food delivery. For the days where you can’t lift a finger to push a microwave button, order good ole-fashioned takeout or delivery. Grubhub and Ubereats can bring some of the healthiest cuisine from around town straight to your door.

Tips for Getting Enough Sleep

Just like when you were in kindergarten, sometimes you have to tell yourself to close your eyes and count sheep. Also, don’t drink until it goes dark. Not a good plan for catching quality ZZZs.

21. Sleep at night. Make like a bat and create a cave for yourself when it comes to bedtime. Crank down the AC, grab your eye mask, and snuggle under your favorite duvet cover. Don’t forget to set the alarm.

22. Routines aren’t just for old people. Yeah, this is the best time of your life. But there also comes a time when you have to sleep, which is at night. Getting to bed at the same time every evening will cue your body to relax when sleepy time arrives. Grab some herbal tea and a good book to unwind.

23. Turn down the tech. Cell phones, tablets, and computers are proven to suppress melatonin (the hormone that runs your sleep/wake cycle), which makes it tough to fall asleep and stay asleep. Power down the cat videos early and dream of dancing cats instead.

24. Party like a rockstar. It’s good to let loose and blow off steam, and the weekends are the perfect time to do it. Forget all about your bad grades after a night with your friends Jack Daniels and Jameson.

25. Nap with your cat. Or just take a cat nap. On days when there isn’t enough coffee in the world to keep your eyes open, a short 20-minute nap will rejuvenate you. Cat cuddles optional.

26. Sleep is a life requirement. Sleeping is a good idea, especially when you have grades to maintain and parents to impress. Here’s an easy routine: Lay down flat on bed. Close eyes. Repeat every night around the same time. Your body will get the idea.

27. Don’t sweat before bed. All the health experts will tell you to exercise. Just not before bed since it releases endorphins or something fancy like that. Just another reason to skip the gym.

28. Invest in ear plugs. If you’ve got a roomie who snores, brings home random strangers, or talks loudly, you’ll need ear plugs. Buy a bunch. You’ll use them one way or another.

29. Java jumpstart early. Don’t let coffee own you. You call the (coffee) shots. Drink it early in the day to avoid sleeplessness at night.

30. Sometimes you can’t avoid all-nighters. College is like being around a newborn. Expect to lose a little sleep. You’ll get more sleep once you graduate.

Botanical Garden duvet cover by Burcu Korkmazyurek

Tips for Dating in College

Dating is weird but only if you make it weird. Here’s to picking winners. Every. Single. Time.

31. Do it. Or don’t. Dating takes a lot of time, energy, and effort. But, it’s also kind of a lot of fun.

32. Make a roomie code. Make asking for privacy less awkward by using codes only roommates understand. Like a sock-on-the-door that means, “absolutely do not enter.”

33. Get physical. We don’t mean between the sheets. Join an intramural sports team or head to the gym if you like to be active. You’ll meet plenty of people, possibly even your dream guy or girl. If anything, you’ll get in amazing shape.

34. Date local. Long distance relationships aren’t as dreamy as the movies make them seem. If you can’t commit to three times a week at the gym, you probably can’t commit to a long-distance relationship. #truthhurts

35. Pretty people are everywhere. There are a lot of pretty people at college. Try not to judge them too harshly. Instead, ask them out. Gorgeous folks like dating, too.

36. Be you. In all your weirdness and its glory, just be yourself. Only one unicorn can walk the campus at a time, and it may as well be you.

37. Flirt shamelessly. Be friendly, and do a little flirting if you want. Say hello, and get his number. Just don’t ask for his social. That’s not the number we’re talking about.

38. Use your funny bone. Laugh at your jokes and their jokes. Someone has to fill in those awkward moments of silence.

39. Fancy dates aren’t a thing. Real dates are hard to do on a college kid budget. Drive-thru dates might be your only date night experience, especially if you’re dating an art history major. Board games and free campus movies nights offer no pressure and are easy on the wallet.

40. Choose wisely. And we don’t mean by picking someone with gray hair. Don’t date your professor or the TA. It never works, and it’s really awkward to ask for favors when you break it off.

Couple sharing milkshake while waitress looks disgusted at the couple
Love Sick by Voysla

Random Other Things You May Need To Know

41. Make use of campus resources. Visit your campus health clinic. Your tuition pays for it. Plus, a doctor can diagnose that weird back rash you’ve been trying to figure out on WebMD.

42. Laundry mountains are gross. Hamper Mt. Everest isn’t a thing. Take yourself and the three-day old clothes you’re wearing down to the laundromat, stat. Your roommates don’t want to smell sweaty gym clothes for a week. Also, unless you want a stranger wearing your favorite t-shirt, be ready to take your clothes out of the wash immediately. People steal weird stuff in college, including wet laundry.

43. Flip flops in the dorm showers. Enough said. Also, watch out for gobs of hair monsters that may attack your ankles.

44. Don’t join the anti-social club. Talk to people. It’s good to be social. We know dogs > people. Also, cats. But people do walk the earth, too. Get to know some. You might be surprised you like one or two.

45. Get your groupie on. Check out the local college bands and follow them on a “tour” around town. It’ll get you out of your dorm and you’ll likely hear some great (and not-so-great) jam sessions.

46. Failing is part of life. It’s okay not to be perfect (employers don’t care if you had a 4.0 throughout college, btw). Failing is ok; giving up is not.

Group of 5 guys playing ping pong in the gym wearing "king pong" shirts

King Pong by unisize

College is less scary than it sounds. Sure, you have to adult and look somewhat presentable to the world, but it’s totally doable. Plus, with all these awesome tips, you know how to survive college like a pro.

Our best advice of all? Have fun, and go crash all the cool parties.

Oh, and graduate with a useful degree.

What are your best college tips for incoming freshmen? Share in the comments below!

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