BY ANTON LUCANUS
College is an adventure. It is also a series of complex events that forces one to grow up, and grow up fast. So how does one get through those four years and come out the other side ready for the hard and fast world of adult life? Here are three recommendations for brand new college students on how to live responsibly in the world of university.
- Pick Your Friends/Roommates Wisely
This has to be the hardest thing about college life, but it’s possible. Often times people come away from college with friends for life, or even a life partner. You want to be on the lookout for both – because you never know what’s around the bend. At the same time, you want to manage expectations. Everyone in college is insecure and struggling with a sense of self. Look for those people who will admit this and are open and vulnerable enough to share in your own insecurities and find out who you really are.
Translating these friendships into sane living situations can be even more difficult. Securing safe and steady accommodations during your college life can be one of the hardest aspects of these four years. As the age-old adage says: A good roommate is hard to find. When you’re on the hunt for a living situation, ask yourself and the people you are interviewing to live with a few questions, such as: Who is responsible for cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms? Do you have affordable renters insurance? You have to go with the grown-up questions as well as the friendly ones. At the end of the day, if these people end up friends for life, they will have answers to these questions and be totally comfortable with you asking them.
- Get Outside Your Comfort Zone
At first it can be a security blanket to stay with and who you know–new students often try to find a niche in the social strata of college life, and stay in it. But at the end of these four years you’re going to have only one person you can rely on. And that is yourself. Don’t get too caught up in on-campus drama. Find a way to make friends, and have a life off-campus, whether that be through a living situation, or making time for healthy off-campus activities. These are the years to experiment, to go against the grain of what you normally think, feel and do, and try new things. At the same time you want to stay within healthy bounds. Experiment, but experiment with wisdom and caution. Try a new sport. Learn a new language. Join a new group. Find a new hobby. You are a student not just in the classroom, but in the world as well. If you’re smart, you will graduate knowing this and therefore have a foundation that you can build an amazing life on: namely, that you are forever a student, and forever open to new opportunities, ideas and ways of thinking. And you’re comfortable knowing that.
Budgeting for college has become nonexistent. Students are expected to go into massive debt to cover the cost of tuition, books and accommodation. This assumption is fundamentally unhealthy – and untrue. With a little time, reigning in of expectations, and smart decisionmaking you can come out of college with minimal-to-no debt. So why don’t people actually do it? Because it’s hard. And it takes time.
Although ritzy schools look great on a résumé, they hold an inordinate amount of weight in your bank account. Think ahead: Do you want to be graduating with the debt the size of a mortgage? Start with community college and get a part or full-time job as you become more comfortable with your course load. If you continue to live at home, those two years for an associate’s degree can easily pass with no accumulation of debt. Those final two years can also pass debt-free as long as you continue work-study and use a few budget hacks to stay in control of what you spend. These can include: Using public transportation, living with roommates, etc.
What’s another major hack for saving throughout college?
Not falling for the “I have to have a brand new textbook” lie that professors and publishers tell students.
Textbooks alone can cost upwards of thousands of dollars. But this is no longer a day in age where paper is the only medium available to college consumers. Don’t be afraid to go off script with your textbook-buying. Even if the syllabus does ask for a specific edition, feel free to check in with one of your classmates in the class, or go into the library where a copy is usually available. The truth is there are few major difference between these editions. They are mostly billed as new versions to reap more profit for the publisher and author. And feel free to go digital: Often there are online versions of textbooks available for half the price.
Byline – Anton Lucanus is the Director of Neliti. During his college years, he maintained a perfect GPA, was published in a top cancer journal, and received many of his country’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships. Anton writes for The College Puzzle as a means to guide current students to achieve personal and educational fulfilment during college life. You can contact Anton via email at firstname.lastname@example.org