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College 101: Top 5 Survival Skills

Your college experience will be different from high school in many ways. As a college student, you’ll have total control over your life and schedule. Everything from which classes to choose to what foods you should eat now rests on your shoulders. In short, you’ll need survival skills.

Though you’ll have support from friends, family and faculty, gone are the days of guidance counselors emailing you to remind you about deadlines. No more mom or dad waking you up to make sure you’re not late for school. While all of this new responsibility can seem overwhelming, these five survival skills will help make freshman year (and beyond) a breeze.


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Manage Your Time

Survival Skills
With all of your newfound freedom, it can be easy to fall into the procrastination trap. Finding the right balance of academics, socializing and activities can be tough. Setting up a routine that allows time each day for everything you need to do can be helpful. But the first time you have a big exam coming up and skip it for a concert on campus, you’ll see how easy it is to fall out of a routine.

Instead, many students find success by allocating blocks of time that can be rearranged, say 30 minutes or two hours, to devote to different activities. This can be easier to manage than a rigid commitment of studying physics for an hour every Monday night. College life is all new so the key is to be organized but flexible.


Relax & Have Fun

Survival Skills
Once your schedule is under control, it’s important to carve out time for socializing. Campus activities, such as movies, guest speakers or sporting events, are perfect opportunities to get out of your residence hall and interact with other students. Your academic work will be challenging and an active social life can help you to relax and unwind. Making new friends is a great way to relieve stress and ease the anxiety of being away from home.


Seek Out Your Professors

Survival Skills
In high school, most classes were small enough to build meaningful relationships with your teachers. Even at the smallest colleges, the professors will interact with far more students than high school teachers. Going the extra mile (or even just 10 feet to the front of the classroom) to introduce yourself to your professors can make a big difference.

Professors will also provide their office hours, time each week when they’re available to meet with students. Take advantage of this excellent resource! Showing your professor that you’re dedicated to your studies by reaching out for extra help might be the difference between earning an A and a B.


Exercise & Eat Healthy

Survival Skills
Ramen noodles, pizza in the cafeteria, fast food in every direction…the temptation of a quick, cheap meal is difficult to avoid. If you’re hoping to dodge the dreaded “Freshman Fifteen,” try seeking out healthier options. Healthy eating and regular exercise has been proven to improve your mood and boost brain function.

Many colleges are making a conscious effort to provide healthy, balanced meals to their students. So don’t skip the veggies and take advantage of your campus’ fitness center. These choices will lead you on your way to a happy, healthy life.


Get Involved

Survival Skills
Clubs, sports, Greek life, professional groups, the honors society–there are endless ways to get involved on campus. Besides introducing you to fellow classmates with shared interests, campus activities can be one of the most rewarding aspects of your time in college. They’re a great way to form lasting friendships, as well as to keep you active.

At the start of the fall semester, most schools will host an activities fair where you can meet students from different clubs, as well as fraternities, sororities and various sports teams. Go to the fair with some of your friends and try to find something you can all do together! Speak with the students from each group to learn why they got involved and why they stayed with it. Of all the survival skills on this list, this one is the most deceptively important.


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ProfilePicAnthony Muccio is a former college admissions professional and education researcher currently advising students one-on-one with his private practice. After years working at large state and small private schools, he decided to spend time focusing on helping unique learners reach their full potential.