Published On: Sat, Oct 17th, 2015

9 College Survival Hacks: What They Don’t Tell You in the Admissions Office


The fall semester is in full swing for colleges and universities all over the country. If you’re a student, you’re probably settling in to your new schedule and getting a feel for your classes.

This is the perfect time to get organized and find your groove before things get extremely busy and finals season rolls around. If you want to have one of your best and most productive semesters, follow these 9 college survival hacks to make the most of your college years.

1. Hold off on Buying Your Books

Books will easily take up a large portion of your budget when the semester starts. It’s important to know without a shadow of a doubt that you absolutely need the textbook before purchasing it. This is why it’s best to wait until the first day of class or reach out to your professor ahead of time to confirm that you will in fact need to purchase the book.

No one want’s to be carrying heavy books around that they don’t even utilize, not to mention wondering what they could have done with the extra money.

Delaying purchasing your books may not work for every class, but you will need to use your best judgement. If your syllabus clearly says you’ll need the book or if it’s for a math or science class, you should most likely purchase it ahead of time like everyone one else.

2. Pick up That Free Planner or Calendar that They’re Giving out on Campus, You’ll Need it

College life is busy. You’ve got your classes, possibly a work schedule, and various deadlines and due dates. Staying organized is key. The library or some offices on campus may have free student planners lying around for the taking. Take one and guard it with your life.

Writing down your tasks and planning out your day will be extremely helpful and allow you to stay organized and have less stress. Plus, the habit of using a planner will stick with you way beyond your college years.

3. Join Organizations Early

If you you’re set on joining a specific group or organization, showcase your interest early and don’t waste time on figuring out how you can join. Some colleges have fairs for organizations and clubs at the beginning of the semester so students can get more information and connect with leaders in the group to showcase their interest.

Quite a few organizations have deadlines for membership

4. Be Mindful of Financial Aid Deadlines

If you receive financial aid or any funding for college, make sure you write down deadlines and set alerts so you can submit all your application materials on time. The FAFSA needs to be filed every year and the earlier you do it, the better.

College advisors and admissions employees are not going to constantly remind you about these due dates. There may be signs around campus but ultimately it’s your job to remember the deadlines and be on top of everything so you receive your necessary funding.

5. Don’t Procrastinate Registration

Registering late may be a trend, but it’s not a helpful one if you’re trying to graduate by a certain deadline. Registration begins several months before the semester starts. It’s important to get first dibs on the classes you need so you won’t run into any issues later down the line when you’re trying to graduate.

I knew a couple of students who thought that would be graduating a certain time of the year, RVSPed for graduation and even invited their friends and family to the ceremony only to find out they still needed a required class or two. Don’t let that be you!

Speak with an advisor each semester and make sure you register early and knock out all your required courses.

6. Schedule Time in For Studying

I know this one sounds obvious. Surviving college and getting good grades = studying. On the contrary, you need to ask yourself if you’re studying often or just studying right before a big test comes up.

Most college courses do not require multiple tests throughout the semester and depend heavily on your final exam to help determine the grade you get in the class. I once took a class where the final exam amounted to one-third of my final grade for the class. Talk about pressure.

To prepare for these major exams and stay on top of your courses, the answer is not to cram during the last week or so. You’ll need to schedule in smaller study sessions throughout the semester to make sure you’re keeping up with the material.

Create flashcards after each unit to build a study guide, get together with a few likeminded friends each week to review notes, or utilize your school’s study resources and set aside some quiet time to review your notes and make sure you are understanding and processing the information you’re learning. These mini-study sessions may only take 20 minutes, but they will certainly pay off later down the road.

7. Stay Healthy and Eat Right

The ‘freshman 15’ doesn’t just apply to freshman. It’s common to get comfortable in college and become too busy to exercise and eat healthy meals. As a result your health could plummet. Try to eat a filling and healthy breakfast each morning even if it’s just a banana and cereal or a bagel. Your body needs certain type of foods in order to function properly.

Make sure you take vitamins each day and pick up produce that’s on sale at the grocery store each week. If your campus has a fitness center, it may be free for students to use. In that case, you can try to exercise a few days each week in between classes.

When you nourish your body by eating healthy and exercising, you’ll notice the change in your mood and energy level.

8. Get Lots of Sleep

Getting the proper rest at night is a must, especially for busy college students. Don’t rely on your morning coffee to get you going in the morning and try to avoid all-nighters when you know you have early classes.

Getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night will allow you to be more alert throughout the day and have more energy.

9. Seize Remarkable Opportunities when they Come Your Way

College should be an amazing time to discover yourself, build a solid foundation for your career, meet new people and take advantage of some of the amazing opportunities that come your way.

There’s always something going on around campus along with plenty of opportunities to apply for special programs and experience new things you’ve never done before.

Choosing to study abroad for 4 weeks during the summer was one of the best decisions I made in college and I’ll never forget the experience.

When an opportunity comes your way, don’t make excuses or back down. Take advantage of opportunities and make the most of your time in college.

Do you have any survival tips for college students? What’s one of the most important things to you on this list?

The post 9 College Survival Hacks: What They Don’t Tell You in the Admissions Office appeared first on MoneyChat.

Source: The Money Chat
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About the Author

- Dorethia Kelly, is the founder of #MoneyChat and president of Conner Coaching, LLC providing results-oriented personal finance and business coaching services. Known for her no nonsense approach and charismatic personality, Dorethia is passionate about helping individuals successfully manage their money and business owners increase their bottom line. She speaks to youth and adults in areas of money management and business with #MoneyChatLIVE workshops and live events. In 2015 she published #MoneyChat THE BOOK – available on

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Did you know?

African Americans are significantly more likely to have some type of debt (94%) compared with the general population (82%). Credit card debt, student loan debt, and personal loans are all significantly higher in the African American community.

Source: Prudential’s 2013 "African American Financial Experience" study