1. Textbooks are extremely expensive
With 4 or 5 classes a semester and textbooks that run around $200 a piece, getting ready for the semester can get really expensive really quickly. Luckily, there are a few alternatives. You can try to buy textbooks from students who have already taken the course and will probably sell to you at a discounted price to get the book off of their hands. You can try to buy used books from the campus bookstore as opposed to new ones (Pro Tip: often there are new editions to textbooks each year, but very little changes from year to year; older editions are often less expensive and provide the same material). You can also try to rent your textbooks from the bookstore or online; both physical and digital versions of these books are probably available. The best option in my opinion, however, is to try to find free PDFs of these textbooks online at no cost.
2. You need to actually talk to your professors and their TA's
Coasting by in the back of the classroom isn’t going to cut it anymore. If you want the professors to know you, care about your performance, and help you succeed in their class and beyond, you need to make sure you develop a good relationship with them. Not only is this practice helpful when you need help with material in the class or that little grade bump at the end of the semester, but it is also a helpful beyond the classroom. Professors are key to connecting you with great career opportunities, whether that be working in a lab or getting your next summer internship. Also, they may even take you out to dinner for free (once you are in college you will realize how revolutionary that is)!
3. Dining Hall food WILL get boring
While in most cases dining hall food doesn’t dip into your wallet, it can get a little mundane after a while. Even if you go to a school where the food is always really good, the same menu options can only get you so far after weeks of multiple meals per day in the same kitchen. Great ways to help combat this issue are to get your own food from the grocery store, take up cooking as a hobby, or try new dining halls maybe a little further from your dorm!
4. Amazon Prime™ is your best friend
You WILL need things over the course of the semester that you didn’t realize you’d need until mom and dad are gone. Amazon Prime™, with a discounted student membership fee, will save you in your times of need. In just two days, you can get any books, school supplies, or dorm necessities delivered to your dorm. This opportunity might not seem so pivotal now, but once you are outside of your house and need to be resourceful on your own time, Amazon Prime™ is there.
5. Spotify® is also your best friend
Just like Amazon Prime™, you can get a discount on a Spotify® Premium subscription for being a student! Whether you’re creating a playlist with the people on your floor, tuning people out while you study in the library, or just relaxing in your room, ad-free music is a must-have for any college student.
6. Venmo® is also… a really good friend
Even if you personally always have cash on you, you will come to realize that 95% of college students do not. Going out for food with friends is fun, figuring out how to split the check when everyone only has their credit card is a hassle. Venmo® makes it easy for you and your friends to split bills, cover each other for small purchases, etc. and most people you meet in college are already using it.
7. College can be a bubble, so keep yourself updated on current events by reading the news
College keeps you pretty busy, and sometimes it’s hard to remember the important things you should always be doing, like calling home and keeping up with the world outside. If not for your own knowledge and ability to talk about important happenings around the world with your peers, you should make a greater effort to keep up with the news because being an active global citizen is an important part of attending university. As part of the generation that will be taking power in the next few years, we should all be informed about what problems others are experiencing, what political and economic tactics work and don’t work, etc.
8. You’ll make way more friends than you could ever imagine
From the first day of orientation week, you will be bombarded with a bunch of unknown friendly faces and you will be forced to pick who you are going to be friends with. Especially if you go on a pre-orientation trip, you will make a lot of friends right at the beginning of the year, and you might be worried that this friend group will be the only one you will get close with during your time at college. That fear is totally misguided: this isn’t high school anymore. Every semester you will take new classes you are interested in, become involved in different clubs or professional organizations, and meet new people who share your goals/hobbies. As an adult, you will begin to schedule times to catch up with a friend for lunch or off-campus, and you can maintain a much larger network of friends than the group of people you ate lunch with in high school. In fact, sometimes it becomes hard to remember all of the people you’ve met because there are so many of them! (Pro-tip: when putting people’s contact information in your phone, put the name of your school as their company so you have your own directory of college acquaintances that you can search through if you ever want to remember the name of that one person you played basketball with, or to catch up with the person who sat next to you in your freshman writing class.)