By this point, you are most likely a couple weeks into your Fall semester. If you’re a freshman, you may have already met people on campus, who you’d already consider friends for life! You might even be thinking about joining a club!
You might also be freaking out. Just a little bit. No matter how prepared you think you are going into college, the reality is that it’s pretty different from anything you’ve experienced before, and you might not have it all figured out right away.
That’s totally OK. You can do this. But it’s going to take some time, effort, and flexibility.
It’s also going to take some hacking.
Luckily for you, a recent AskReddit thread gave other college students the opportunity to share their best school-related hacks with the Internet. Even luckier for you, I’ve compiled the best ones in an easy-to-read list for you here.
So, are you ready to take on the semester by storm?
Then grab your notebook and get ready to take some notes.
You’re going to do great.
For all you new college students:
Find time to get some exercise in.
All of that grab n’ go/fast food catches up to you fast
I got fat as crap in college and have since lost all that weight. I wish I made time to at least squeeze in a 30 min workout every other day.
If you have lazy teachers, google a direct quote from a worksheet or assignment and you can sometimes find teaching resources and answers online.
If your grade is based on participation:
If you need to participate in group discussion but aren’t sure about the material, ask intelligent questions instead of trying to answer what you don’t get.
It’ll buy you time and you’ll still be participating.
Think about school as if it’s your job.
My classmate took up a strict 9-5 school schedule, right from the first semester.
Every day, he’d work 9-5. He was either in class, working on homework, or studying if he got everything done. At 5 pm, he’d pack up his stuff and was done for the day.
He had all his homework done way ahead of schedule and never had to pull all-nighters or waste weekends on homework. He was never stressed out or anything like that because he’d spent time studying when he wasn’t slammed with homework.
I could never manage it because I’d rather procrastinate and start 3 hours before it was due, but it seemed like the best way to do it.
For all my fellow commuters out there: Meal Prep!
You will save so much money by making some rice and chicken at home instead of buying food every day. I used to buy Subway twice a week as I was at school for a long time on those days. I just started to do meal prep and I feel so much better about not spending that much money anymore.
You can Google by file type. Using the syntax
Like this: “filetype: pdf Name of the Textbook I Need”
It will often give you downloadable versions and save you hundreds of dollars. Plus being able to ctrl+f a textbook is a lifesaver.
This, of course, can be applied to any other file extension.
Browse the textbook before the lecture, or at least skim the introduction and the section headings.
It’s a lot easier to remember information if you walk into the classroom with a little bit of context.
I would love to know how this hack was discovered.
This is an unethical and specific one but it worked wonders.
One of the vending machines at school accepted Yugioh cards as dollar bills.
Pretend you’re the teacher.
Before the exam, make a copy of all the material you have to know, but change it in the way you would explain it. It helps A LOT to learn the subject.
If you don’t know how to study or have a hard time getting yourself to do homework: Get a friend to buddy with.
I can’t study to save my life, but if my friend is in the room concentrating on that shit, I feel like I don’t want to be left out, and I’ll buckle down so we’re on the same page.
If you can’t manufacture executive function, peer pressure is fine too.
Keep those sweet discounts.
Setup email forwards for university emails.
This allows you to get student discounts with a valid university email way after you finish and they stop letting you access your account.
Get enough sleep.
Seriously. I know it’s hard. I know there’s not enough hours in the day. But if you’re gonna cut anything, it shouldn’t be sleep.
There’s a secret bathroom.
Your goal is to find the bathroom on campus that’s used infrequently and find out when they clean it.
When you find the perfect time and location, don’t tell anyone until you graduate.
Give yourself a $100 budget for parking tickets and you can usually find a parking zone that’s never enforced.
Park there for the rest of your years at college without paying for parking saves you A TON of money. They ticket you maybe twice a term.
Never. Disclose. Your. Spot.
Do not leave things to be done just before the deadline.
Do it ahead of time, if possible, so you avoid unnecessary stress. Helps me survive. Also, learn how to manage your time well.
Put the important stuff where you’ll see it.
It’s fairly silly but it was indispensable to me in college, especially for my English minor —paste your syllabi in a very visible location in your home, and write down all of your major due dates on a whiteboard.
There’s a lot of stuff that goes on in college, so it’s really easy to forget sometimes what you have to read or what papers you have to do. Especially for non-math courses, your assignments will be due in spurts, and it’s definitely not as easy to remember as a weekly problem set.
So it’s best to just have all your assignments easily visible. It pays dividends.
If you’re only going to do a few assignments, do the right ones.
You’ve got to play the meta-game.
If you’re lazy and unorganized like me, you won’t have time to properly study for everything and complete every assignment. That’s when you look at the grade distribution and start with the items that are worth the most.
Buy a Crock-Pot and find some cheap recipes online.
Saves time, money, and you get more nutrients than cheap ramen soup. Also, depending on how big it is, you might be set for at least a week’s worth of food.
Seriously, just go to class.
As someone who just graduated college, do yourself a favor and actually go to class.
You’re paying for the chair (if you’re in the U.S.) and there is research on a correlation between greater absences= greater likelihood to fail a course. I know you hate the class, but go. I might literally be begging.
Worried about speaking in front of the class?
If you’re nervous about presenting something or speaking out loud because you’re forced to, just know that the majority of students around you feel the same way as you if not worse!
That always helped me get over the fear of talking out loud.
Learn to drink like an adult.
Binge drinking will make you feel awful and it will take you days to recover. Have a good time, but know your limits and be safe.
Use *all* of the time you have.
Don’t underestimate the small chunks of time littered throughout the day.
Got an hour before your bus/lecture/whatnot? Do some studying. You missed the bus that was scheduled literally 1 minute after your lecture? That’s 20 minutes of study if you don’t sit at the bus stop staring at your phone; stay in the library for that time.
It especially helps if you’re like me and can’t do more than an hour of work at a time.
If you use these times it’ll add up to a couple hours a day, which is MASSIVE in the long run.
Teacher here, but I work with hundreds of students every day.
Here’s the 100% best school hack ever. ASK QUESTIONS! If you’re confused about something, ask. If you forgot something, ask. If you need something explained again or in a different way, ask. Ask, ask, ask.
Teachers choose the job they are in because they want to educate. We aren’t doing it for the hours, the pay, the prestige, the summers off, or the joy of working with apathetic children and their angry parents. We stay in the career because we want to make the future generations better than those that came before.
Most of the time, we can’t help you if you don’t let us know you need help. Ask, ask, ask, and ask some more. If the teacher doesn’t want to help you, keep asking around until you find someone who will.
Also, learn to ask good questions. Don’t just say “I don’t get it,” because that’s not a question and the teacher (or whomever you are asking) has nothing specific to go on. Instead, say, “What do you mean by these directions?” or “What am I supposed to do here?” That helps narrow down where your struggles are and let the teacher zero in on how best to help you.
Wikipedia is your friend.
If you want to use Wikipedia when writing an academic essay, just cite the sources that Wikipedia cites.
Not only does it reduce your workload a lot, but it makes it look like you’ve done a ton of reading during your research which your professor will be really impressed by.
Remember these three rules:
Sleep more than you study,
Study more than you socialize,
Socialize as much as possible.
Make sure you get permission first for this one!
Record lectures on your phone and listen to them while studying for tests.
So many times in lectures you get so caught up in taking notes that you completely miss things the professor says. I’ve picked up on so many things that I totally missed in the notes but heard the professor say it in the recording.
Also takes pressure off you to take crazy fast notes.
Put your phone away completely when studying.
The biggest issue I had in school was getting distracted by Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, text messages, emails, etc. There was always something going off and I’d spent 10 minutes on my phone, out it down, get a notification and waste another 10 minutes.
Can’t concentrate? Go for a walk.
Long walks with hand-drawn and colored flashcards were the only way I was able to study.
By doing something active; not sitting and reading.
Take notes even if you never look at them later.
Take notes while you complete your readings. It’ll help cement things in your brain to summarize and paraphrase the key points of the content.
Share these tips with someone you know who’s just starting college!