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Many graduates claim their years in college were the best times of their lives and furthermore, would redo those years all over again. While you should be excited, it’s also normal be nervous of the transition from high school to college. Now as an adult, you also have adult responsibilities such as budgeting, balancing new friends and a social life, academics, and a job if you land one. We are here to help you prepare with some campus and college life tips, which helps even most overwhelmed freshmen navigate their first year successfully.

Managing Money, Time

Sticking to a budget while in college is a lot about willpower, and those who don’t learn how to manage limited funds in college risk credit card debt once they graduate. Take advantage of offers that target college students but won't damage your credit rating, like free checking and reduced ticket prices at movie theaters. The spending decisions you make in college will follow you thereafter and if you use your blank credit score slate, spend and save responsibly, you’re likely to become wise and make wise budgeting in your first job, post-graduation.

Whether you’ve applied for work study, have been hired at a full- or part-time job or plan to find more creative ways to make money to help pay for your college expenses, it isn’t easy to manage your time so that your social life and grades do not suffer while you’re earning a living. For many though, the advantages of balancing your classes and a job with a steady income outweigh the stress and potentially poor decisions that come with tight budgets.

New People, New Lifestyle

Most college-bound high school seniors are aware of the dreadful Freshman 15, and vow that before they step onto campus in the fall that they’ll exercise, eat right and avoid junk food. Many do not realize how difficult it is to balance academics, a potential job, and a social life with a healthy lifestyle. Luckily, you need not be a top chef to eat well in college, and buying healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables is often less expensive than ordering pizza every other night. Most colleges also have meal plans to ease the transition for college freshmen who haven’t yet found the health and budget-conscious options on campus. Joining a club sport or an intramural team is a fantastic way to make friends and stay fit as well.

Another rite of passage for the college freshman is learning how to live with roommates, often complete strangers. If you don’t have a close friend to room with your first year, or simply wish to meet new people, you’ll need to learn how to be respectful in a cramped space and learn to discuss your preferences about things like guests, loud music, and study time. (Note that this is especially important for females.) Set the stage for a lasting friendship with your new roommate by being honest about your expectations, or if you really don’t get along, try to avoid the most common roommate problems by coming up with ways to make each other’s preferences known for the rest of the year. With more independence comes more responsibility, and it won’t only be roommates that you’ll need to get along with, but professors, your classmates, advisors and your parents when you return home on college breaks. Chances are you could be different than when you left for school.

Last Edited: July 2015

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