college hacks freshman year

44 College Hacks You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner

This post is all about college hacks

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Now that I have graduated from college, I look back and realize just how many college hacks I picked up along the way. When I moved to college, I knew literally nothing.

College is kinda one big guessing game. No one really knows exactly what they are doing.

Over the years, I have gathered a ton of tips that helped me succeed throughout college. As your fairy-grad-mother, I felt it was only fair to share them with you. I’d hate for you to learn the hard way.

44 College Hacks You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner

1. Loft your bed for extra storage

Dorm rooms are tiny and you’ll want to maximize your space the most you can. You don’t have to make it super tall, but adding some space below your bed will help with storage.

This is one of the most common college hacks – and for good reason! It definitely helps make your room look more organized than it is.

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2. Spring for the extra long chargers

If you loft your bed, you’ll be glad you got the long chargers. You never realize how few outlets are in a room until you’re sharing with another person and both need to charge all your devices.

Save yourself the headache of trying to figure out how to get your charger to reach you and just buy the extra long ones.

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3. Using a planner will save your life

It could be because I’m crazy type-A but I seriously think using a planner is the only way I made it through college.

Beyond having assignments to keep track of, you never realize how hard it is to organize all your commitments on your own. Using a planner allowed me to keep track of all my homework while balancing a full time job and a social life.

4. Take advantage of student discounts

This is a college hack I wish I had known about freshman year. I knew some places offered student discounts, but I didn’t realize how many did.

Who doesn’t love a way to save money? Did you know you can get a student discount on everything from streaming services to food to clothes?

Here are a few of my favorite student discounts:

5. Get a clip fan for your bed

If you are a hot sleeper like me, you will be so grateful for this fan. Freshman year, my roommate liked to keep the room warmer than I did and this fan saved me!

It’s super cool because it clips onto the bed frame (or anywhere really) and works perfectly to cool you down.

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6. Learn your body’s rhythms to capitalize on productivity

Okay, this one is a little nerdy but it seriously changed the game for me. I talk a lot about this in my online course, Own Your Time. Basically, knowing when you operate at your best will help you in every aspect.

If you are a morning person, you can schedule an 8am and have no problem. If you tend to stay up late and sleep in, afternoon classes will probably be a better option.

Personally, I know I need sloooooow mornings to wake up and ease into the day. For that reason, I would schedule classes starting around 9 or 10 when my brain is at its peak alertness.

own your time and ace online classes

7. Create your class schedule to optimize your weekends

Speaking of class schedules, try planning them to make the most of your weekends. My favorite schedule was when I only had classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Even though the classes were longer, it allowed me to have long weekends without having to skip classes.

8. Go to the events your school hosts

Besides the fact that these events usually have free food, it’s also a great way to meet new people.

Some of my favorite college memories came from getting out of my comfort zone and going to these types of events. A lot of times, the activities are things you probably wouldn’t get to do otherwise.

9. Schedule free/fun time

In college, it can be hard to find a balance between being a good student and having a good time. One of the best college hacks I found was to schedule in my daily free time.

This helped me make sure I had a balance and didn’t feel guilty for the times I did nothing!

10. Join clubs and explore new interests

I always say that the best part of college is getting to figure out who you are. It’s like the one time in your adult life when you don’t have a ton of commitments or responsibilities. Use your time to figure out what it is you enjoy doing.

Go to your school’s club fair at the beginning of the semester and see if anything interests you. Try to find new hobbies that challenge you. Now is the best time to do it!

11. Handwrite your notes

Everyone hates this one, but I promise it makes all the difference. Even if you do it on your iPad in an app like GoodNotes, it’s better than typing.

If you need to type your notes, try rewriting them after the fact (or vice versa). The physical act of writing helps commit the information to memory better (I’m pretty sure there is science that backs that claim lol).

12. Skip the printer in your dorm room

This is one thing I learned the hard way. My college had printers in our dorm study rooms and in different buildings throughout campus. Don’t waste your money on a printer when it’s already included for free (or with your tuition, however you want to look at it).

Save the already limited space in your room, and skip the printer.

13. Plan your class schedule ahead of time

One of the absolute best college hacks I learned from my advisor freshman year was to track your program classes and plan your schedule ahead of time. Once he showed me how to do it, I created my own tracker that literally saved my life in college.

By planning your schedules ahead of time, you can track the progress in your degree and get the best classes each semester!

14. Keep some healthy(ish) snacks in your dorm room

Even if you have a full meal plan, you will find yourself wanting to snack at different times. Instead of filling your dorm with a bunch of junk food, try to opt for some healthier snacks.

Some of my favorites were:

  • carrots and hummus (stored in my mini fridge)
  • protein bars
  • trail mix
  • dried fruit
  • popcorn

15. Always keep your student ID on you

This kind of goes hand in hand with getting student discounts. Make it a habit to carry your student ID and ask if they have student discounts everywhere you go. I promise it won’t feel weird after you get 15% off your food

16. Have a go to bathroom

This one is very specific but iykyk lol. If you’re like me and tend to a) not love using public bathrooms and b) get stage fright, having a go to bathroom is a must. Try to find the best bathroom based on convince of location, cleanliness, and busyness.

17. Keep your GPA high early in college when classes are easier

Take advantage of your gen-ed classes and the lower level major classes early on. When you do well in these classes it will pad your GPA for the harder classes. A lot of people spend the first year of college focused more on their social life and thinking they can slack off because classes are easy.

I promise you will thank yourself later on when you have wiggle room with your grades because you took the easy classes seriously and did well in them.

18. Look for textbooks other places (besides your bookstore)

My first semester of college I spent a stupid amount of money on textbooks because I thought the only place to get textbooks was at my campus bookstore. With a little time and digging, you can save a looooot of money. Check out places like Chegg and Amazon. There are even some websites that offer PDF versions for free.

19. Use time blocking for time management

Time blocking is another college hack that I swear saved me. Time blocking is basically where you designate certain amounts of time to certain tasks. You don’t have to be super strict with it where every minute of your day is planned. But it’s helpful to at least block major tasks like studying, work, clubs, and rest/fun.

Related: 6 Time Management Tools Every College Student Needs

20. Wake up earlier than 15 minutes before class

You don’t have to be a morning person to wake up a little earlier. It’s no secret that waking up 15 minutes before class is not beneficial. You don’t have time to get ready, you’re frantic and rushed, and your brain definitely isn’t awake and ready to learn.

Try giving yourself a little extra time to wake up. Even if you just sit in bed and stare at a wall. I promise it will make you feel better throughout the day.

21. Get yourself a comfy robe and slippers

Freshman year, everyone on my floor knew me by my robe. That might be embarrassing for some people but I love my comfies (any comfy lounge clothes). Having a robe to throw on after the shower or on a cold morning is the absolute best feeling.

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22. Don’t sit in the back of the class

It’s always awkward walking into class and figuring out where to sit. You don’t want to be front and center and immediately seem like the teacher’s pet. But sitting in the back of the class opens you up to more distractions and a bad rep with the professor (if we’re being honest).

Try out different locations to figure out where you can see and focus the best while also being able to chat once in a while.

23. Break up your study time

This is not me telling you to study weeks in advance for a test because we all know that’s not realistic. But your brain can only handle so much information at once. You get to a certain point where you are literally wasting your time.

Instead of one long 4 hour session, try a few 60-90 minutes sessions broken up by a different task.

24. Keep your dorm room open when possible

I thought my roommate was crazy for always wanting to leave the door open our freshman year. Whenever we were home, the door was open. My little introverted self took some adjusting to that. But she was totally right. Half of the friends I made that year were girls on my floor that I connected with because our door was open. 10 out of 10 recommend this college hack freshman year.

25. Try new hobbies

This goes along with getting involved in clubs and finding new interests. College is the best time to find new hobbies. I know it seems like time is already tight between classes and everything else. But once you graduate and start working, it will be harder to develop new habits or trying new things.

Dedicate one day a week or month to try something new.

26. Always read the syllabus

Your class syllabus should be your best friend. At the start of each semester, fully read through each syllabus then add the dates to your planner (bonus points if it’s color coded). Throughout the semester, reference back to the syllabus for any updates. Then, each week, transfer the assignments written in the monthly layout into your weekly to-dos.

27. Everything should have a designated space in your dorm room

We’ve already established that the dorm room is small. If everything has a designated space, the room will feel less cluttered. Plus it will help your mental state as well.

Related: Dorm Room Organization Ideas That Reduce Clutter

28. Always start with your most important task

You never know when you will find yourself getting distracted or pulled away from a task. It’s not always a bad thing but if you do your most important task first, it’s not a problem to take a break for an ice cream run with friends!

29. Clean your room weekly

In my mind, this is a no brainer but I know a lot of people don’t share the same sentiment. This isn’t so much one of the college hacks as it is a college must!!

Even if you don’t care if your room is messy, be considerate of your roommate and the shared space. It doesn’t have to take long to do a quick tidy up.

Related: A Dorm Cleaning Schedule That Is Super Easy

30. Get a memory foam mattress topper

You know what’s worse than a bad night’s sleep? An entire school year of bad sleep lol. Dorm beds are basically glorified camp beds and super uncomfy. Do yourself the biggest favor and get a good quality mattress topper. This is something you don’t want to cheap out on.

In college, I prided myself on having the comfiest bed. Even now, I use the same type of mattress topper because I love it so much.

31. Use a bedside caddy

This is super helpful for many reasons. Since you likely don’t have a nightstand to store things in (or if you loft your bed) this is a great solution.

I would use my bedside caddy to store my journal and Bible, chapstick, lotion, my retainer, and any other random things I would use at bedtime.

32. Sell any dorm supplies you don’t want/need anymore

I was completely shocked at how many people wanted some of my dorm supplies when I was moving out. My school had a resell page but you could also try listing on Facebook and resell apps to make some extra money.

33. Record lectures for your hardest classes

One of the best college hacks I found for my study habits was to record lectures in my hardest classes. It was helpful to listen back to any topics I had confusion on.

Of course, ask your professor for permission to do this first. And just because you’re recording, doesn’t mean you don’t have to listen during the class.

34. Actually go to class

The best way to learn the course material is to actually attend class. It can be easy to skip just one class but that can quickly turn into multiple classes.

If you are paying to attend school, why would you want to waste your money?

35. Don’t study in your dorm room

Even though you are provided a desk in your dorm, I don’t recommend studying there. Since your dorm serves as pretty much every living space (room, kitchen, and living room) it can be hard to stay focused. Add in a roommate and it becomes 10 times harder.

My favorite place to study was the very back of the library in a small study cubicle. It helps to be away from other people and block as many distractions as possible

36. Learn how to budget

Most young adults have no idea how to handle money. This is the first time many of us have had to manage our own money. Add in the fact that there are so many ways to do it and it’s no wonder we get confused.

Use college to figure out what method is best for you and start doing it.

37. Have 2 sets of sheets

Let’s be honest, no one does laundry as often as they should. One of the best college hacks I learned early on was to get two sets of sheets. That way, even while my sheets are being washed, my bed can be made.

If for some reason there isn’t a washer or dryer open, my sleep is not affected by my lack of clean sheets.

38. Ask questions

Being curious about everything will help you learn more than any lecture. Of course, ask questions in class if you don’t understand something. But also ask questions about new topics in conversations. My favorite is to ask people questions about themselves. It’s the best way to get to know people.

39. Learn about professors before signing up for their class

I swore by all throughout college. It’s a great way to learn more about your professor and see if the class will be pleasant or a nightmare. It’s also helpful to ask friends about specific classes/professors to learn what you are getting yourself into.

40. Make a friend in each class

For the first 2 years of college, I kept mostly to myself in class. Then I learned that one of the most underrated college hacks is to make a friend in each class.

This will be helpful if you miss a class, for studying, and accountability. You can also have this friend ask you questions you know the answers to during presentations.

41. Actually get sleep

Sleep is so important and very underrated in college. It can be easy to want to stay up visiting with friends and studying for exams. But I promise, you will thank yourself for prioritizing sleep.

I have major FOMO and spent my first semester of college staying up super late every night. It made it difficult to have energy for anything during the day. Now that you have a comfy bed with memory foam, be sure to get some good sleep.

42. Get school supplies that excite you

This might just be a nerdy thing but I always loved shopping for school supplies. Getting cute notebooks and new pens always made me excited for classes to start. If you have something that excites you, you’ll look forward to classes instead of dreading them.

43. Participate in some form of physical activity

Hitting the gym isn’t for everyone. And while everyone talks about avoiding Freshman 15, there are many benefits to physical activity. Find workout classes or join intramural sports teams that excite you. Find a way to make physical activity fun and you won’t even realize you’re doing it.

44. Always have a water bottle handy

In addition to physical activity, staying hydrated is important to your health. Invest in a quality water bottle and keep it on you at all times.

This post was all about the best college hacks you should know.

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