This is a collaborative post by Ellie Jo with tips for college students.
Some people see a college education as essential. Indeed, many jobs require you to have degrees nowadays.
Therefore, you may have to go to college to follow your desired career path. Even if you don’t know what you want to do in the future, a college education can be an eye-opening experience for you.
It can help you make new and valuable friends, as well as pointing you in the direction of a dream career path.
Either way, if you are planning on going to college, then be aware it’s a massive step up from high school. Things will be incredibly different, and it can often be a culture shock to many of you.
So, it’s important to be prepared for what lies ahead! That’s why I’ve come up with some key tips for all students going to college.
5 Tips for College Students
Make your minors support your major
If you don’t already know, there are majors and minors in college. Essentially, your college major is the main subject you focus on.
A college minor is a secondary subject – or subjects – that you study alongside the major. Now, there are no rules for majors and minors.
You can major in business but choose minors in completely different subject areas. This is fine, but my experience tells me that the better approach is to make your minors support your major.
For example, you choose minors that relate to the major in some way. If you major in marketing, then choose minors in business or advertising, etc.
By doing this, all of your studies relate and make sense to one another. It’s far easier to juggle multiple subjects in this way, and you end up graduating with a wealth of knowledge in a pretty specific area. So, it can help you find more work when you go out into the big wide world.
Save as much money as possible
This tip is for people planning on going to college and people that may have already been accepted. Before you go to college, be sure you’ve saved as much money as possible.
Education isn’t cheap, and you’ll soon come to realize this. If you have kids that are going to college, then set aside money every month for a college fund. This can help them pay their way through the entire experience without worrying about money. Saving prior to college is essential as it can either keep you out of debt or minimize the student debt you end up with.
The same goes for saving during college. It’s tempting to go a bit crazy and spend as much money as possible. After all, most students need to take out a loan.
Mature students don’t always have this issue as you may have spent years working and saving up for your education. The more money you have, the easier it is to get through college. Anyway, save during your studies to avoid putting yourself in tough financial situations.
Look for scholarships
As someone who has taught students, I always emphasize the importance of trying to give yourself a leg up. What I mean is that you should look for schemes or ideas that are designed to help you.
For college students, this includes scholarships. A scholarship is essentially a piece of financial aid for specific students. You usually have to meet certain requirements, some of which revolve around your grades and performance.
However, you can also find easy scholarships where you need to write an essay and you could be chosen.
Effectively, if you get approved for a scholarship, you can get thousands of dollars to help you pay for college. It’s a massive boost to your finances.
I was reading an article on 10 Easy Scholarship Tips, and it mentioned that you should apply for as many as you are eligible for. I think this is very clever as you never know how many scholarships you might get.
At the end of the day, you lose nothing from applying for them. Sure, it can take up some of your time to write an essay or complete an assignment. However, the rewards greatly outweigh the effort as you could get some much-needed financial help.
Weigh up the pros and cons of getting a part-time job
Unsurprisingly, a lot of my tips relate to the financial side of going to college. For me, if money wasn’t an issue, then everyone should go to college.
It can be an incredibly beneficial experience for everyone. The only problem is that you spend lots of money, so you need to be sure that you actually want to go. Anyway, back to the main point: getting a job.
A part-time job can help you pay your way through college while avoiding loans. That’s a massive benefit, but it also consumes lots of your spare time.
This means you may have less time to study or less time to socialize. So, my advice is to weigh up the pros and cons of getting a job in college.
Some of you may have enough spare time to work a few shifts per week without it disrupting your studies. Others may find it very challenging.
Consider your course and how much work you have to do. If you feel like you can definitely keep things balanced with a job, then go for it. At the very least, explore jobs that require minimal effort.
Some college campuses have ‘warden’ jobs where you basically stay in your room and respond to any problems within your halls. For example, if the fire alarm goes off, you see the problem and deal with it. Jobs like this are great as you can do them while you’re in your room studying!
Don’t party too hard
Partying goes hand in hand with college. It’s natural that you will meet new people and spend a lot of time partying. However, don’t party too hard.
There’s a line that you mustn’t cross. This line is where partying takes over as the main reason you’re in college. If you spend more time partying than you do studying, then you’ve crossed the line!
For me, this becomes a problem as you’re paying thousands of dollars for a long party. It makes no sense and will undo all the hard work you put into saving money and paying for college.
Go out now and then, don’t be a social recluse, but remember why you’re there. Your main priority is getting your degree, so make sure it always remains the focus of your attention.
A good way to know if you’re slipping is to see how much work you have. If you suddenly have mountains of work that keep piling up, then you’re clearly not giving it the attention it deserves.
If you’re avoiding your work for other reasons, such as mental health issues like stress or depression, it’s crucial to note that you’re not alone. You can always reach out to licensed counselors online. Click here to learn more about how online therapy can support you in college.
These are my main tips for students going to college. A lot of them revolve around the massive financial responsibility of college education.
While the tips are aimed at future and current students, they can also be applicable to parents of students. If you have a son or daughter that’s either in college or going to be there soon, then show them these tips.
Also, use them to help prepare your child for this stage in their life. Everyone will have different experiences in college. Still, the worst thing you can do is not be prepared for what this life will bring.
Rachel is an Austin blogger, educator, mom, wife, young breast cancer survivor writing about health, saving money, and living a happy life in Austin, Texas.
Rachel has written for HuffPost and Hometalk and has been featured on KXAN, Studio 512, Fox 7 Austin, and CBS Austin.