Critical Tips on Surviving and Succeeding in College

Critical Tips on Surviving and Succeeding in College

Pursuing a degree in college is challenging. With so many activities and events going on in addition to curriculars, it’s hard to keep a healthy balance between everything. Here are some essential tips to help you handle the stress of being a college student.

1. Get Organized

One of the most important things I’ve learned in my college career is that organization is one of the keys to your success. Buy a planner and USE IT. Planners are extremely beneficial when used correctly. If you keep it clean, well organized, color coded, and highlighted, it is easy to understand and use. Organizing your living space, especially your desk, helps keep you focused and you will be living, working, and hanging out in a stress-free environment. Start by utilizing storage boxes to get the clutter out of the way, and using shelving to help organize binders, books, and other various items. Buy binders for each course or use dividers that have pockets in one universal binder to keep all class materials together. Something that really helped me with this was buying a hole puncher! Hole punch all of your handouts and extra papers to keep everything clean and easy to find. In the organization department, I have found that sticky notes paired with different colored pens and highlighters are your essentials!

2. Stay Healthy

Staying healthy is a vital part of, not only college, but life in general. Water is essential to your health and well being, and way too many college students do not get their recommended daily intake, leading to exhaustion, dehydration, and headaches. Divide your weight in half, translate that into ounces, and that is a good indicator of how much water you should drink per day. For example: A person who weighs 120 pounds should intake about 60 ounces of water per day (120/2 = 60)*. Get into the gym, intramural sports, group fitness classes, or just get some friends together and play a team sport! College gyms are normally free to use, including group fitness classes and sports rooms/courts. My school even had an awesome rock wall! There are so many fun options to stay active, it is so easy to get involved and meet new people. Another way to stay healthy is to eat right! Instead of ordering pizza and microwaving some frozen dinners, learn to grocery shop and cook! Grocery shopping is easy when you plan your meals ahead and/or make a grocery list, and most of the time it’s even cheaper than the bad foods that college students are notorious for (except Ramen noodles!). When you are healthy, you feel better, and when you feel better, you perform better in school and are generally happier!

3. Study and Focus

One of the biggest challenges I had to face, as many college students do, was focusing on tasks. Homework, tests, quizzes, papers, projects, and extracurricular activities all seem to pile up at once. You have so many tasks to focus on, it’s tough to sit down and complete them all. Take a deep breath. Don’t procrastinate. In the event that you do procrastinate, lay out everything you need to complete in: 1) Within the next three days, 2) Within the next week, and 3) Within the next month. Completing tasks on a deadline helps you to see what is most important at the moment. To avoid procrastinating, try to complete things as they get assigned. Most professors give you a schedule of the class on the first day, so you know when everything is due. It helps to transfer these important due dates to your planner so nothing sneaks up on you the week before. When you know what needs to be done ahead of time, easy assignments can be completed way ahead of the due date, getting them out of the way and making more time for projects, tests, quizzes, or last minute assignments that require time that cannot be planned ahead. Learn to take GOOD notes, and listen to the lectures. This is the difference between a mediocre student and an honor student. The lectures may not seem important, but they are there to help connect important concepts and some teachers may even hint at possible test questions! Studying notes that you have put a lot of effort into will help you tremendously on the exams.

4. Budget

With so many college expenses, there’s not a lot of room for extra spending money. When you grocery shop, check out sales and clip coupons. Only use coupons for products you normally buy. When you clip coupons for products you don’t normally use, you buy unnecessary items solely because you have a “50 cents off” coupon for it. Don’t buy fruits and vegetables in bulk. Start with small amounts and if you need to buy more, do so. Fruits and vegetables spoil easily, going to waste if not consumed. Some foods that can help you stay healthy while being on a budget may include: eggs, lunch meat and bread (whole grain!), bananas, salads, chicken, vegetables, yogurt, and brown rice*. To save money on books, which is a major expense, there are a couple options you have. If the books aren’t the normal textbooks, but literary books, check them out from the library for free! If they are textbooks, buy them at a discount store or online instead of renting them. When you rent them, you don’t get any money back. Even though buying them is more expensive as a base cost, it’s kind of like an investment where you have the choice to sell it back at the end of the semester. I never use the school’s bookstore because of the high prices and low buyback offers. Instead, I use a discount bookstore, such as Textbook Brokers, or online at Amazon, Chegg, or This saved me so much money in the long run. When you are careful with your money, it’s not hard to stay within budget and lead a happy and healthy life in college!

*Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist nor doctor.

By Alexandra Gray 


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