Let’s be honest, college students are clueless. They walk around campus as if they are adults and have everything together, but for those of us that have been there we know they have absolutely no idea what’s going on. They skip classes, have stupid arguments that don’t matter, and end up cramming for tests that they had four weeks to study for. These tips for college students are meant to not only help them during college, but also long after those school days are done.
Top 10 Tips for College Students
#1. Stay Local
No matter where you live, I can almost guarantee that there are amazing schools in your state. There is absolutely no reason to pay out of state tuition rates. In fact, you have to be an absolute idiot to pay these astronomical rates:
The University of Michigan is an excellent school, but is it worth paying $41,906 per year to go there from your home in Ohio? Yeah… I don’t think so. Use your head and attend an amazing school in your area. Who knows, maybe your mom will stop by once in a while and do your laundry pro bono.
#2. Apply For More Scholarships
There are millions of dollars worth of scholarships out there – heck, maybe even billions. One student single-handedly earned $500,000 in scholarships and she was nowhere near a straight ‘A’ student. So what was her secret? First of all, she applied to a ton of scholarships, and second, she racked up a slew of volunteer hours (scholarship grantors love to see that).
I remember having a pity party before I even applied to any scholarships. I figured that because I was a white male I wouldn’t be able to earn any. Because of this poor attitude I applied to very few, but still ended up winning a few somehow. If I would have put in a lot more effort I probably could have knocked another $10,000 off my tuition bill. Stop your pity party right now and find those scholarships.
#3. Get a Degree That Matters
Whatever you do, please don’t major in something stupid like archaeology or philosophy. If you think your degree might be stupid, do me a favor and research the average unemployment rate for your major as well as the average salary. If they suck, you will most likely want to change your major.
The absolute best degrees to get this year, however, are as follows:
- Computer Science
- Mechanical Engineering
- Business Admin./ Management
Of all the tips for college students, this one might actually be the most important because if your degree means nothing and you racked up debt to get it, you’ve just wasted 4 years of your life and probably tens of thousands of dollars. And then you’ll have to go back all over again to get a real degree.
#4. Earn an Internship
It’s not enough to get good grades and a degree anymore. There are too many people that can match those stats. If you want to get a decent paying job out of school you will need to already have some experience under your belt by the time you graduate.
Some schools offer internships as part of their program. If yours does, you should definitely take advantage of it and learn all that you can while on the job. If your school does not plan internships into their program, do your best to attend job fairs while still in school and offer your employment for next to nothing. It might even be worth your while to work for free if it helps you land an amazing job after college.
College students are broke. That’s just the way it is, and quite honestly, that’s the way it should be. Do not feel slighted if you have to work your way through college and live on rice and beans. Consider it an honor and a privilege. By working hard through school and by keeping your expenses low, you will keep your college debt to a minimum and will actually learn a little something about life.
You might think that your friends are lucky to have mommy and daddy pay for their tuition, but this “gift” will likely cause them to take their education for granted. When they graduate, they will have not yet faced a challenge in life. You, on the other hand, will hit the ground running in the real world because you’ve already been living it for four years. I say that you working students out there actually have the upper hand once graduation comes.
#6. Make Lifelong Friends
There are some tips for college students that weren’t always so obvious to me while I was in school, but now looking back I wish someone would have told me. Friends are important both in life and in business. Close friends will always be there when life knocks you down, and some of your other college friends can be excellent assets during your job hunt (especially if they have already been in the working world for a couple years).
Don’t let college pass you by without meeting and getting to know as many people as possible. Also, be sure to start a professional LinkedIn profile if you are nearing graduation. Your working friends can be a tremendous asset when you start climbing that corporate ladder.
When I was in school, I actually made a point not to get to know the professors. I really didn’t want to get to know them and I certainly didn’t want them to know me. All I wanted was to earn my ‘A’ and move on to the next class. Frankly, this was idiotic on my part.
In these tips for college students, let me tell you how important it is to get to know the professors. First of all, they have connections to many employers and other people of influence. If you truly want to succeed in life, then you should really make an effort to show them how intelligent and hardworking you are. Secondly, they can often provide first hand insight into the field you are studying. Explore their minds and ask them if they think your degree is right for you.
#8. Learn for the Long Term
This is another one of those ‘tips for college students’ that I wish I would have known when I was in school. Unfortunately, I am an amazing crammer. I say unfortunately because this method of studying often earned me amazing grades on exams, but it was a terrible way to retain the information for the long term. Once I started working in the real world I realized what a mistake I had made. Instead of already having the knowledge, I had to relearn the information all over again (and at the same time pretend like I knew it to avoid embarrassment).
Instead of cramming for exams, make it a point to review your notes a couple of times a week. Not only will it make it a breeze to study once those test days come, but it will also help you remember the information long after you ace the test.
#9. Don’t Break the Bank for Textbooks
This tip probably isn’t a life changer, but it could save you a few thousands bucks over the course of your college years. Whatever you do, do NOT buy your textbooks from the university bookstore. They are ripping you off. Before you do anything, take a walk over to the university library to see if they have the book on hand. If they do, check it out for the semester. If they don’t allow that, then make a few photocopies for yourself or plan on doing your homework in the library for the duration of the term.
If the library search tactic doesn’t pan out for you, then open up your computer and take a look at valorebooks.com. I discovered this site late in my college years, but it still saved me hundreds of dollars. Hopefully it can do even better for you!
#10. Live on Practically Nothing…Even After Graduation
Whatever you do, do not congratulate yourself with a brand new car after you earn your degree. Even though you have that magical piece of paper, you are still broke. In fact, after four years of school you are actually more broke coming out than when you went in! One of the absolute best tips for college students is for them to continue living like a broke college student for a couple years AFTER graduation.
When you graduate with your awesome degree, your first order of business should be to rent a cheap apartment and maybe even share your space with a few rent-paying friends. Eat cheap food, have cheap entertainment, and continue to drive your college ride (don’t be embarrassed – many of your older coworkers will think you’re a genius for hanging onto it). Make it a mission to pay off your student loan debts and save up some cash. Accomplish this and you will be far ahead of your peers in this game of life. With absolutely no debt and a solid salary, the rest of your life will be a walk in the park.
Do you have any tips for college students? Please help them out by commenting below!
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.