10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before College: Student Edition

Beth Dumbauld

10 Tips For College Studentsby Danielle Koons

I will admit there was a bit of a learning curve when I left for my first year of college. And much like a wizened old Monk, I am here to share what I learned about “The Wonderful World of Secondary Education.” You’re welcome.

1) College is not harder than high school. No, really. (Well, at least not your first two years, before you start taking classes toward your bachelor’s degree.) I had some tough teachers in high school tell me all the time that the reason they were tyrants was “to prepare us for college.” Bull. Hockey. I have yet to meet a college professor who doesn’t accept work late, and most of them haven’t even docked points for it. But turn in a paper in high school just ONE DAY LATE and you get this massive lecture about being responsible and managing time and blah blah blah.

Now I’m not saying that college is a walk in the park, I’m just telling you that if you can handle high school you can handle two years of college. So don’t be scared of all the tyrants. You already had them in high school.

2) There are many more job opportunities that open up when you get a few years of school under your belt. I cannot tell you how much I hated the job fairs at high school. There were, at maximum, fifteen different jobs on display at these shindigs. And no lies, most of them were boring as all get out. Instead, I want a job like:

  • Paradise Island Caretaker
  • Luxury Bed Tester
  • Banana Gasser
  • Ice Cream Taster
  • Snake Milker

Those are real jobs, by the way. So don’t think that college is a waste of time just because you don’t want to be a doctor. Think of all the ice cream you could be eating! College is delicious!

3) Speaking of food, eating as a college student is an art. You will learn what your body can and can’t live without. And trust me, it can live without a whole lot more than you thought. You will learn how to clip coupons, buy the crap store brand, and “spoil” yourself with $2 Daily Deals. You want to save megabucks and also keep yourself from dying of starvation? Its difficult, but it’s a skill you can learn. The following are your friends. Learn them. Remember them. Eat them:

  • Ramen noodles
  • Tomato soup
  • Nachos
  • Microwavable burritos
  • Cereal
  • Pancakes
  • Canned fruit

There you go. You can live months on just that.

4) This is related to #3. Respect the Cheese. Now I know you’re thinking, “What’s the big deal with cheese?” Well, I’ll tell you.

Cheese. Is. Amazing. Unfortunately, the reason its yellow is because it’s basically GOLD. Those huge blocks of cheese your mom buys for you? Yeah, those are like $15. Do not share your cheese. Do not waste your cheese. Seriously.

Respect. The. Cheese.

5) Its, like… really, really easy to ditch class. Nobody calls your parents. You don’t get a “U” for missing class. Seriously. Nobody cares.

But sometimes teachers give out quizzes and pass around a roll sheet. That can put a real damper on your grade, so try really hard to get your butt to class. As for online college classes, try to meet the deadlines and turn stuff in. If you get behind, it’s a bugger to get caught up.

6) Hot pockets. They are an enigma. On one hand, they can be delicious. On the other, they have the temperature of LAVA and clog your arteries after two bites.

They’re great for on-the-go-holy-crap-I-already-forgot-rule-#5 kind of mornings. You can nuke them for a few minutes and be out the door.

Tip: to avoid the lava thing, poke holes in the hot pocket halfway thru the microwave time. And don’t be cocky and think you can take a giant bite out of it, either. First bite is always small. ALWAYS. Gotta let the hot air out. Didn’t you read the box? HOT POCKET. Amateurs.

7) Counselors are usually useless. Occasionally there’s a tear-jerking story about how a school counselor helped someone turn his/her life around, but that’s like a solar eclipse or a one-handed 3-point shot. (Things that are rare but super awesome.) College isn’t much different. It’s not their fault. I mean, they have how many thousands of students come through their office? It’s only natural that students get grouped into one big blob. But if you want someone to listen to what you want and help you go in a certain direction, talk to the Department Secretary. You like reading? Go to the English Department. You like blowing stuff up? Engineering. (It’s like math but louder!) They know way more about the classes and are super awesome at giving you tips on what classes to take that will put you in the direction YOU want.

8) Books. OMG. They are so expensive that you’d think they were printed on gold leaf! My first year of college, oh how naïve I was, I bought the books at the campus bookstore. Don’t do that. Learn from me!

Go online and buy used books. There are a lot of places that bounce college books around like a hot potato. Browse around. Check prices.

Tip: Sometimes used books have helpful little scribbles in it from the previous owner. My thanks to Brittany H., whose Chapter 3 notes written down the pages of my chemistry book helped me with converting moles.

9) Tutoring. I remember in High School that saying “I need a tutor” was basically announcing your stupidity. Not so in college. So you’re taking 18 credits and you need help with your Chemistry I class? That’s not stupid. That’s a genius that is clearly going to graduate before I do.

But regardless of how many credits you are taking, don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it. If you fail the class you’ll just have to take it again. And that bites.

10) Don’t work so much that you don’t have time to study and do your homework. Remember that school comes first. After all, you are going to college to get a better job and thus get paid more money—so don’t go to work when you should be doing school stuff. I know many students whose grades suffer because they work themselves to death.

I realize that most of my tips are about food. Well, I guess you know what college kids are usually thinking about. Food and school. In that order.

Danielle Koons spends her time going to school for a stupid Bachelor of Science degree, smelling like wet dog (courtesy of her job as a groomer), and pretending to be a famous writer. But not a boring stuffy writer. A cool writer like Lewis Carroll, so she can ignore the “rules” of the English language and make up her own words.

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