10 Things I Wish I Knew Before College

Since graduating college almost a year ago, it’s time I share what I learned from my experience while the memory’s still intact. Calling incoming college students: may you benefit from my mistakes wisdom.

1. If you aren’t buying a “Dining Plan,” actually cook instead.

When my Junior Year came, I decided I was going to prepare my own meals from home rather than purchase a Dining Plan. It’s cheaper, healthier, and saves money, right?

Right. But only if you cook, Sabine! I was too busy studying for the exam the next day that I slurped on instant ramen and Naked juice. I was probably spending more than if I had a dining plan or meal-prepped and cooked at home for the week. *facepalm*

Pro tip: Replace the occasional Starbucks with a delicious whipped coffee.

2. Don’t buy textbooks before your first day of classes.

I didn’t know about this until too late. Holding off on buying textbooks is the best college tip for a few reasons:

  • You save yourself from having to go back to the bookstore to return a book.
  • You might find it for a lower price on Amazon.com.
  • Or online as a free PDF (seriously).
  • You may talk to someone whose taken the class before and admits they’ve never used the book.
  • Your professor might say it’s optional.

3. Purchase a Chegg subscription.

(But don’t cheat with it, obviously.) Chegg was beneficial in explaining some concepts for my Neuroscience major.

You can either buy a subscription yourself or share an account with a friend to split the cost. Even if your major is not STEM, chances are you’ll have to take the necessary prerequisites that include math, science, and a language.

Trust me; you will not regret this!

4. Don’t slack off during your freshman or sophomore year. Or any year, for that matter.

Despite doing alright in my classes for the first two years, I know I could have done better. Although I improved my last two years (#UpwardTrend), it still wasn’t enough to earn the fancy-sounding “Cum Laude” on my diploma (I was .01 points away..01 points away!)

If I could go back with the knowledge I have now, I would have prioritized studying starting the first day. Please don’t make the same mistake I did!

5. Invest time and money into decorating your dorm.

At first glance, your raw dorm room may look like a jail cell. Transform it however you like. After all, your dorm is your sanctuary to wind down, wake up, laugh, cry, eat Ben & Jerry’s at 3 am, hang out with friends, call home, whatever.

So definitely decorate this jail cell into precisely what you’re wanting. If you have a roommate, you can also coordinate amenities before move-in day and some design aspects if you guys want to!

6. Move your body.

Freshman 15 is not just a funny hashtag. It’s real. And from personal experience: too much dining hall apple crisp + lack of exercise = before you know it, definitely a few (20!!!!) pounds.

So, for my sophomore year, I made it a point to eat less apple crisp and sweets and go to the gym more. Lo and behold: I shed those twenty pounds without really even noticing!

Again, please don’t do what I did. The healthiest college tip on this page is just going to the university’s or local gym a few times a week and eating a balanced diet from day 1.

7. Use RateMyProfessor when choosing your classes.

It is my opinion that the difference between a great class and a boring class is not the content — it’s the professor! This website provides student reviews for a bunch of professors at different universities. It is a platform that allows you to leave your review after the term for other students’ benefit!

8. Call home.

Everyone misses you. Calling your family and old friends will take barely any of your time and is hugely appreciated.

9. Be responsible when going out.

If you are determined to get a fake ID, make sure it’s a good one don’t. (Seriously, don’t.)

Have some legal fun — take a walk, play a board game until you’re of age.

10. Be present, safe, have fun, and enjoy these few years.

Most importantly, be present, safe, have fun, and enjoy these few years. They really do fly by!

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