Going back to school is exciting because it means you’re one step closer to graduate. This is also a time when you start preparing for sleepless nights–doing homework, eating Ramen for $0.30, hunting for free food, etc.
Take the smart route and plan ahead. These 6 tips will help you maintain a smooth college life.10
1. Connect with your roomies
If you’re going to live in a campus dorm you can connect with your roomies before you get there. Most colleges and universities create Facebook Group pages to help students connect with their floormates and roommates. This can help you learn a little more about your new roomies.
When I started my freshmen year way back in 2009, my roommate was randomly picked for me–which meant that I was going to live the next 8 to 9 months with a complete stranger. The uncertainty of this person was exciting but also a little terrifying.
Fortunately, I found a way to connect with my roomie who lived miles away from me. I searched for a Facebook Group under the name of my dorm and school. BINGO! There was a private Facebook Group named under that dorm and school, which allowed me to find out who was going to be my floormates and roommate. I just had to post my room number and ask who was going to be my roommate. Then the person with the same room number replied saying that she was going to be my roomie.
This connection helped me to get to know her interests based on what she shared on Facebook. We then exchanged emails, phone numbers, and other contact details. When I saw her in person for the first time, it was not as awkward as it could have been.
Use social media to connect with your roomies and you can also find out if your school offers a portal that helps students connect with their new roommate and/or floormates.
2. Buy text books
Used books are usually significantly cheaper than brand new books. Most universities sell used books and you may also find books for a cheaper price online. There are many online sources where you can buy and sell textbooks for a reasonable price.
I always priced matched my textbooks; I also bought and sold textbooks via social media.
3. Contact your academic advisor
It’s always a good idea to talk to your academic advisor before you register for classes. This will help you map out which courses you need to take and when you need to take them to finish your degree.
When I was a college student I always made sure I contacted my academic advisor before registering for any class. I asked for a copy of my course plan so I could track my courses. Even though I changed my major three times, I was able to graduate on-time because I got advice on making backup plans and sticking to them.
The more disconnected you are from your academic advisor, the harder it is for you to make smart and strategic academic choices. It’s never a bad idea to consult your advisor before making any academic decisions.
4. Save money
Saving money before college and while you’re in college can help you in many ways. Learn to save money early on because it will help you in the long run.
Every summer while I was in college I had summer jobs to save for college expenses. I wanted to make sure I used non-loan financial aid to pay for college first, such as grants, scholarships, and savings.
5. Look for sales (school supplies)
Try your best to spend smart. Why pay full price when you can save money on sale items? If you have a student ID see if you’re eligible for a student discount.
Most of the grocery stores close to the campus has student discounts, which I took advantage of to save as much as I could on the things I needed. My student ID was like a VIP access pass for a lot of discounts in restaurants, school supplies, and entertainment.
6. Draft a reasonable budget
Create a monthly budget to keep track of your income and expenses. When you use a budget you’ll see where your money’s going and how much you’re able to save. It’s not as hard as it might sound.
Just add up all the money you have coming in and subtract they money you spend each month. Any left over amount is your savings for that month. If you want, you can divide your expenses into fixed costs (expenses that are the same each month like rent) and variable costs (expenses that may change month-to-month, like entertainment).
Over time, you’ll begin to see some patterns and you can adjust your budget if you want to save more money or if you just want to make changes to where your money’s going.
When I was a college student, doing the math also meant trying to cut back on unnecessary expenses. I adjusted my budget every month according to my wants and needs. I didn’t use any complex program, I just did the budgeting on paper and pen.
Budgeting is a good way to make healthy financial habits that can last your whole life