5 Tips for First-Time College Students

Updated: Mar 16, 2017

For many 17- and 18-year-olds, going to college marks the first time they will be away from their parents. It's the first time they'll get a chance to experience a degree of independence. But with that independence comes responsibility. Now begins the process of becoming an adult and making smart decisions. Here are five easy tips for first-time college students to remember as they enter school this semester.

1. Take It Easy in the School Dining Halls

The "Freshman 15" is a popular expression that refers to freshmen's tendency to gain up to 15 pounds during the first year they're away at college. That is because they now have access to meal plans that allow them to eat big, hearty, greasy, fat- and carb-packed breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

Schools contract with dining companies whose main concern is giving you something that tastes good and fills you up at the lowest possible cost. So just because your new school has unlimited French toasts and bacon available doesn't mean that you should fill up your plate and come back for seconds. It's also not always wise to take extra food home in your bag; you'll find yourself tempted to snack on those less-than-healthy foods throughout the day.

2. Participate in Greek Rush Week Events

Even if you ultimately decide not to join a sorority or fraternity, Greek rush week is still an exciting way to get to know other students on campus. A lot of freshmen meet their lifelong friends at these activities, which may include social hours, parties and games. Regardless of what you may have heard about the Greek life, give it a chance; these fun events that are full of freshmen just like you, and you may even find a fraternity or sorority group that you'll fit right into.

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3. Avoid Expensive "Filler" Classes

Just about every college program offers easy classes that have little to nothing to do with your course of study but that may fit an elective requirement. Searching each day for open seats in the classes that you want is better than taking a filler class that doesn't pertain to your major or goals in life. Remember that you're spending $20,000, $30,000 or more for tuition in some cases, so that course on Butterfly Art 101 is costing you thousands of dollars. Always pick classes that will benefit you in the future when you consider this substantial investment.

Still, if you opt to take such classes, we will be around to help you. Since these classes are not directly related to your major, they can be easily outsourced to zipstudy.com, which will handle these tasks quickly, effectively and confidentially. Many customers from all around the world get their academic assistance from professional academic services. We employ thousands of writers with various backgrounds and levels of expertise, allowing us to handle even the toughest assignments, let alone the 'filler' classes.

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4. Consider Off-Campus Housing Next Year to Save Money

Living in on-campus housing is a good idea if you're a freshman on campus. That's because dormitories often have programs to help new college students get to know each other and become acclimated to college life. But as you go into your second, third and fourth year in college, you should start to consider off-campus housing. Calculate how much you're paying each month for an on-campus living (including your dining plan), then compare that to what you might pay for an apartment of your own, possibly with a roommate. Include estimated utility costs in your comparison.

5. Minimize Your Debt Load

If you ask anyone who has graduated already, they will most likely tell you that they are still paying off their student loans, and will probably still be paying them off for 20 or 30 years. Many take private loans that will come with high-interest rates. It can be tempting when you're in college to take any cash refunds from the loans you receive and spend them on clothes and personal things, but remember that you will be paying for those one-time purchases for many years into the future--with interest. A smarter choice would be to get a part-time job to cover your daily expenses, avoid unnecessary private loans and save the refund money you receive so that you can use it to start paying back those loans when you graduate. Also be wary of credit card offers for college students with credit limits that keep getting higher and higher. This isn't free money--it will also have to be paid back with interest.

Going to college for the first time is an exciting experience that you'll always remember. Keep these five tips in mind to help you successfully transition into this new stage of your life.

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