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Old 11-08-2017, 11:00 AM   #1
Emi
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Preparing for College

While my decision hasn't been sent yet (or it has and its just going through the mail), I do want to plan ahead for college, since I haven't lived at a dorm before and I would be living for the most part on my own from January on.

So, my question to everyone here is, what should I do? What are the must haves for living on campus? What neat tricks helped you save money or made things easier for you? What are the dos and the do nots?
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Old 11-08-2017, 02:08 PM   #2
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I think you should make decisions on how to manage food.

A lot of college students get overweight fast, because a heavy course load eats away from time devoted to cooking, so they go junk food. It is important to not fall into that trap since excess weight will also impact your self-esteem, self-respect and ability to study. "dedication" comes from the same source, so it's dissonant to be devoted to studies but not devoted to fitness at the same time. Usually, there is correlation unless someone is running off past experiences.

If you cook yourself, you spend the least money, but spend the most time. If you have a part-time job that is paying good dough, it's often to your benefit to simply eat out or eat prepared food to spend more time working or studying.

It's not an ideal reference for obvious reasons, but Jared Fogel's weight loss experience is something to be learned from. Subway footlongs are $7 and, if you stack them correctly, can be one of the healthiest items you can eat: high fiber, low calories (650) and predictable expenses.

One footlong for lunch will cost you $210 per month. Someone who is eating the bare minimum of pasta and water spends $80 per month. <$300 is considered to be a good amount to spend on food.

...

Another thing I recommend is streamlining your clothes. I wear sweats and a t-shirt everywhere I go, they're cheap, all-purpose, easy to launder and who-cares if they get stained. Washing and drying your clothes, if you have to pay, gets REALLY expensive, to the point I noticed it was cheaper for me to buy underwear at Wal-Mart every 2 weeks rather than wash them.

Do: Hunt your tutors and ask for help at every opportunity. Make friends but be cutthroat. Loans and credit culture shield people away from the truth that college is a huge job interview.

Maybe: Join a fraternity for academic success. They have old exams and homework to make your classes easier. Unless the frat is a party frat, it'll have archives of practice to handle almost every professor on campus.

Don't: Focus too much in the text book. Follow lecture slides, then lecture homework, then instructor-given supplementary papers, and review everything handed to you. The textbook itself should be treated like a reference and only read if you need more practice or a different voice to teach you the same information.
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Old 11-08-2017, 11:06 PM   #3
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There's a ton of factors to each college experience that I honestly wouldn't know where to start on helping you. Are you going to college for a serious education? Or is this a party school and you just want some experiences? Does your college have a very competitive student body? Or is it known for being lax? Is your college far from home or did you just go to the dorm to get away from the house, but still be within driving distance?

Everyone goes to college for different reasons and so depending on why you're going and where you're going, you will probably have different priorities. Telling you how to prepare is difficult since each campus is different. Heck, depending on your major, your entire experience could vastly differ from even your roommate's.

Some general things I guess: Make sure you are taking advantage of all the financial aid or scholarships you can, because starting your life in debt is horrible. If you've never lived by yourself, learn to take care of yourself. Learn to use a laundromat. Learn to cook. Learn to clean. Learn to manage your money. Find out where all the stores are.

If your school gives access to a 3D printer, you can actually make some crazy shit to save yourself money or make money if you sell it (like on Etsy or whatnot).
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Old 11-09-2017, 08:25 AM   #4
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My one tip is this: Pay. Attention. To. Your. Professors'. Names. When you're scheduling, watch who exactly is teaching what sections you're in. If it's simple course material in all likelihood, don't pay it too much mind, but if you're looking at high level courses or just complex material, find the professors with names that don't sound foreign. It sounds nasty, I know, but on top of the material in the stats class I dropped this semester being REALLY far over my head, I barely understood a word out of the professor's mouth when he was two feet in front of me, much less when I was actually seated for the lecture, and it just made failure (and the accompanying stress) come on that much quicker.
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Old 11-09-2017, 09:39 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loki View Post
Some general things I guess: Make sure you are taking advantage of all the financial aid or scholarships you can, because starting your life in debt is horrible. If you've never lived by yourself, learn to take care of yourself. Learn to use a laundromat. Learn to cook. Learn to clean. Learn to manage your money. Find out where all the stores are.
This is all gold star advice.

On top of that, go to as many of the freshers (or w/e you call new students in the States) events during your first couple weeks as possible. Everyone there is in the same boat as you in regards to being new to everything and being surrounded by new people they don't know so everyone will be super friendly. There'll be some people you hang out with loads for the first month or two and then barely talk to again, but by getting yourself out there you'll meet enough people who are all also just looking for people to hang out with that some of them will pretty much inevitably end up being long term friends.
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Old 11-09-2017, 10:08 AM   #6
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Fortunately my grandmother works at a laundromat, so I'm pretty familiar with how a laundromat works (and how much they can rip you off...). Unfortunately I am going to have to start my life in debt most likely, but what can you really do. At least I'm getting a $3000 grant.

This is all really good advice too. Thanks, and keep posting if you can think of anything else!
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Old 11-09-2017, 12:51 PM   #7
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One mistake I made for my first year of uni was to interpret "I have this piece of work due in like two weeks and I can do it whenever I choose!" as "I'll do it when I feel like it!". Most of the time you'll feel like doing something else right up until the deadline and then rush it on an all-nighter. This is not fun. Allow yourself enough time to do the work, but pick and choose times in advance when you know there's not something else specific you'd rather be doing, and as much as possible stick to it.
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Old 11-09-2017, 01:07 PM   #8
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One mistake I made for my first year of uni was to interpret "I have this piece of work due in like two weeks and I can do it whenever I choose!" as "I'll do it when I feel like it!". Most of the time you'll feel like doing something else right up until the deadline and then rush it on an all-nighter. This is not fun. Allow yourself enough time to do the work, but pick and choose times in advance when you know there's not something else specific you'd rather be doing, and as much as possible stick to it.
Can confirm, night-beforing coursework and revision does not result in a good time. All it leads to is misery, anxiety, general panic and very little actually productive. Also does a number on mental health. Can definitely attest to that shit.
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Old 11-09-2017, 01:48 PM   #9
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I have a few things!

1. Heather has a point, though I super don't agree with her way of going about it. There's a great website called ratemyprofessors.com where students post reviews of professors! Provided that a student has reviewed one of your professors, you can get the lowdown on whether or not they're a good teacher without, you know, being racist.

2. Concept is right about pretty much everything, especially about going to unrequired freshmen events. I mean, you're paying for them to happen independent of whether or not you go, so you may as well go! They tend to be interesting anyway.

3. Go to office hours with your professors. Every time I've gone, I've come out 15-20 minutes later feeling enlightened. Plus there are so many benefits to doing this. First, you get help with assignments if you need it, which is nice. But more importantly, you establish a relationship with that professor outside of class. By going to their office hours, even just to chat or whatever, it shows them that you care about their class and what they are teaching. And having a better relationship with a professor is always good. They're the people with connections in their field, and they might make you aware of various opportunities as they become available.

4. in terms of stuff, I had trouble in my room at the beginning of the year with the distribution of power outlets. Basically, all the outlets in my room were strategically placed to make plugging things in as difficult as possible, especially when you take into account the fact that extension cords are not allowed at my school. So I have an 8-foot power strip and an illegal extension cord. Hopefully you won't get this unlucky, but having a power strip handy is always a good idea. I also recommend investing in a good pair of headphones, which serve a few purposes. First and foremost is, of course, their actual purpose, listening to music/Netflix/whatever. But people tend not to bother or approach people wearing headphones (at least if they have any social sense), as they signal that you're listening to something and don't want to be bothered. So if you want to be left alone for whatever reason, they help. Not to mention nicer headphones tend to do better at drowning out other noise, so if you like to listen to music while studying, that's a nice feature. But the headphone thing is really just my personal opinion.
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Old 11-09-2017, 06:30 PM   #10
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I think you should make decisions on how to manage food.

A lot of college students get overweight fast, because a heavy course load eats away from time devoted to cooking, so they go junk food. It is important to not fall into that trap since excess weight will also impact your self-esteem, self-respect and ability to study. "dedication" comes from the same source, so it's dissonant to be devoted to studies but not devoted to fitness at the same time. Usually, there is correlation unless someone is running off past experiences.
Thisis a pretty good post over all, but the part about food management and gaining weight is very true. It happened to me and it was terrible. If you have a dining plan where you go, use their sandwich bar and seek out the fresh greens instead of going straight to comfort food after a stressful day.

EDIT: Also, you need to use the library at your school. Your dorm room often isn't going to be ideal for studying because it contains too many distractions. The library should let you hunker down for a while and focus on your work without getting too distracted (except by the internet). Libraries also have comfy chairs that your dorm won't and they often run some pretty cool academic, professional, and cultural events out of the library that you could take part in. Libraries are also good for working in groups and offer more table space than a dorm room.
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Old 11-09-2017, 08:15 PM   #11
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Just want to pop my head in to say I'm reading every word of this and filing it away for when I start college in the fall. Thanks muchly to Emi for posting the thread and everyone who provides advice! ;]
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Old 11-10-2017, 04:03 PM   #12
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I very much advise you to check every possible resource before taking a loan. There are a ton of government programs and non-profit organizations which give grants and scholarships. College loans can never *NOT* be paid. As in, even if you go bankrupt, you still have to pay it back. You can never refinance it to change the interest rate. It will haunt you for years. Seriously, if you still have some time, keep checking.
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