So, you’re heading off to college in the fall. What will life be like outside of your parents’ house? With the freedom that college affords comes the responsibility of taking care of yourself and your education. We’ve been there, and here’s what we wish we had known before heading off to school!
With the surge of independence that happens when heading off to college comes financial responsibility. All too quickly it is possible for students to get in over their heads. It’s one thing to use up all the bucks on the meal plan, quite another to find out your checking account is overdrawn, you have fees for bounced checks or you have racked up hundreds of dollars on a credit card when you didn’t think all those cheeseburgers and wings added up to that much.
How to Keep your Finances in Check:
Set up a checking account with a bank that has an ATM on campus. This will help you to avoid costly fees when making a withdrawal.
Make a budget and stick to it. This will also force you to reflect on what is a want and what is an actual need.
If you open a credit card, only get one! Pay it off each month to avoid high interest fees and help build your credit.
Set up online banking so you can see your transactions in real time and easily check your balances and make transfers from your smartphone. If you write a check, remember to make sure the funds to cover it stay in your checking account since you don’t know exactly when it will be cashed.
If you are using Uber or Lyft, carpool with others. You may not be the only person who needs to run to Walmart for toothpaste and then you can split the ride cost.
On the unlimited meal plan? Use it to its full advantage. If you don’t like to get up early for breakfast, when having lunch or dinner grab some fruit or muffins to take back to your dorm for breakfast the next morning. Stock up on snacks from the cafeteria instead of giving 7-11 your money.
When dining out near campus or shopping at stores near campus, ask if there is a student discount. From little mom and pop shops to big box stores like Best Buy, you can often save 10 percent or more just by asking!
Go to Class! You’ll learn a ton just by being there, and it’s way easier than trying to learn by yourself the night before a test!
Participate in class and make an effort to meet your professors. If your professors know you, they’ll be more likely to help you out when deciding your grade.
The class syllabus—Learn it, Know it, Live it! Don’t flunk a test because you didn’t know it was coming.
When it comes to taking notes, it’s better to write down too much, rather than too little. And at least occasionally, put the laptop away and write notes by hand, it helps you remember the material much better.
Make a friend in every class in case you miss a day.
Use the career services at your school. If you’re not sure what major you want, or jobs you’re interested in, talk to someone. This is the one time in life when you have nearly unlimited resources and help in this department.
Household Ed-u-ma-cation 101
When you move out of the dorm and getting a place of your own, remember these tips . . .
Don’t put any metal, Styrofoam or take-out container in the microwave. Transfer food to a plate or bowl and be sure to use hot pads to pull the dish out; plates/bowls get very hot.
Poke holes all over a potato with a fork to allow air to escape as it cooks.
If cooking with any sort of raw meat, wash your hands, cooking utensils, cutting boards, and plates very thoroughly after touching the raw meat.
Don’t soak a wooden cutting board or wooden utensil in soapy water for long periods of time. The wood will absorb harmful bacteria that can transfer to your food the next time you use it.
There is always a risk of a fire when dealing with any sort of cooking heat. Never leave a stove unattended when you are cooking and keep all pot handles inward and parallel to the counter (a pot handle sticking out over the edge of the stove is a recipe for disaster).
What you Need:
Oven mitts/pot holders to handle hot pans (hand towels don’t count—the fibers in the towels can melt and the heat can come through and burn you)
One deep pot that can hold a fair amount of liquids (like water for boiling noodles) and one skillet for pretty much anything else.
Food thermometer. When in doubt, use a food thermometer to check the temperature and make sure your food has been cooked thoroughly (the internet will always have the answer on proper temperatures of food items).
A good rule of thumb is that when you are cooking something that is water-based (boiling water for noodles, chicken soup, steaming vegetables), it is okay to use High heat. When cooking greasy items like bacon, use Low to Medium heat. Grease when cooked at a high temperature will splatter and there is a risk of serious burns and/or a fire breakout.
Luckily these days, temperature isn’t as important as it used to be but it’s still a good idea to separate out your dark clothes from your lighter, white items.
Towels and sheets can (and should!) be washed together frequently (towels should be washed at least once a week, and sheets at least every other week)
Bleach is a very corrosive chemical so use with caution because if used too much or too often, it can ruin the fibers (especially elastic) of your clothes causing them to fall apart at the seams.
How to stay healthy even with dining hall food and pizza at midnight:
Moderation is key. You need protein, vegetables, fruit, carbohydrates, and sugar in your daily caloric intake. Eating a whole package of cookies might help give you a boost of energy when finishing those last few pages of your research paper but a whole-wheat bagel (good carbs) with cream cheese (dairy, protein) earlier in the day would actually have worked better because it lasts longer and those cookies will just make you crash once the sugar has been absorbed.
Water, water, water. Staying hydrated is of utmost importance. And remember that drinks like coffee, tea, and caffeinated soda (and of course, alcohol) can dehydrate you, so you’ll need extra water to keep up.
Keeping a stash of high-protein, lower calorie snacks like protein bars, dried fruit, or trail mix with nuts is a great thing to have when you get hungry and need something healthy on the go.
Finally, breakfast is the most important meal of the day! It kick-starts your metabolism and helps get you energized for your busy day!
Taking Care of Yourself
Turning 18 means that your parents no longer have control over, or access to, your health. And you are about to head off to a place not well known to either of you for an extended period of time. These few precautionary steps will do wonders to ease your mind, as well as your parents’.
HIPAA is a federal law that establishes rules for healthcare providers regarding who can look at and receive an individual’s health information. When you turn 18, you can sign a HIPAA release authorizing medical professionals to share diagnoses and treatment options with your family. If you have a medical emergency, your parents can’t help much without the HIPAA release.
It’s a whole new world when you get to college and are living with people who aren’t your family. These common courtesies and common sense tips will help you navigate campus life.
How to Manage Roommates
Always be considerate of another.
Tell them right away if something is bothering you, or it will never stop.
Respect each other’s privacy.
Don’t borrow clothes without asking!
Treat them the way you want to be treated.
Always walk with a friend.
Be aware of your surroundings (this is easier to do if you don’t always have earbuds in).
Stay in well-lit areas.
Know the campus security number and have it on speed dial.
Trust your instincts if something seems sketchy.
Take advantage of campus police rides.
General tips to get you through college
Stay in a group.
Don’t accept any drinks that have been opened!
Coordinate a designated driver if needed.
Plan a meeting spot if someone gets lost.
Discard your drink if it has been unattended.
How to say ‘No’
If it is drinking, fib and say you have an important event in the morning.
Be confident in your answer. Peer pressure is real, but no one will fault you in the end for not partaking when you don’t want to.
Social Media Tips
Don’t post any pictures with alcohol present.
Don’t post any personal information (eg. Location of your dorm, etc.)
If you put something on the internet, it’s there forever!