When it comes to advice for college students, some of our most popular content includes our 100+ tips for college survival, our 50 tips for saving money in college, and 10 things you need to start doing for college success.
While they are all full of solid tips, we’re not the only ones serving up advice to college students. We’ve scoured the web for some of the best college advice and have listed those resources here below. We’re not going to list all 600+ tips we found here, but we’ll provide links to some great reading and share some of the top tips that we think each resource provides.
Here’s a quick look at some of the top college advice articles we’ll be looking at in this resource roundup.
1. Steve Pavlina’s 10 Tips for College Students
2. 10 Tips about College Majors and Careers at Psychology Today
3. 50 Tips for Freshmen at Xatal.com
4. 10 Things to do for College Success at CampusGrotto.com
5. 88 Surfire Tips for Success at OEDB.org
6. 50 Tips for College Students at Psychology Today
7. 42 Things I Learned Freshman Year at CollegeInfoGeek.com
8. 27 College Tips I Learned Sophomore Year at CollegeInfoGeek.com
9. College Advice: 100+ Tips for Survival at CampusGrotto.com
10. 27 Money Tips for College Students at GetRichSlowly.org
11. 118 Ways to Save Money in College at CollegeScholarships.org
12. 40 Money Tips for College Students at Bargaineering.com
13. Saving Money: 50 Tips for College Students at CampusGrotto.com
Steve Pavlina is a personal development expert and one of the most popular posts from his blog is his “10 Tips for College Students”. Here are three great points taken from his advice.
- Answer the question, “Why am I going to college?”
Many college students really don’t have a clear reason for being there other than the fact that they don’t know what else to do yet. They inherit goals from family and peers which aren’t truly their own. That was how I started college. Is this you as well?
Your goals for college will likely be different than mine. What are they? Why are you there? If you don’t know — and I mean really know it in your gut — then you have no focal point for your experience. You may as well not even be there. What is it about your experience that resonates as true for you? What are you there to learn? What do you want to experience?
- Set clear goals for each class
Decide what you want out of each specific class. Is this a subject you’re eager to learn? Do you want to target this teacher for a letter of recommendation? Is this a required class you must take but which doesn’t otherwise interest you?
- Take at least one extra class each semester
Students are taught that 12-15 semester units (3-5 classes) is a “full” schedule. But a schedule that light is hardly full. A person with a full-time job will put in a good 40+ hours per week, and students enjoy every possible vacation day plus spring break, winter break, and summer vacation. If you want to spend four or more years in college, add more degrees or get a job on the side. Don’t feel you have to go at a snail’s pace just because everyone else does.
If you’re an above average student, you can certainly handle an above average schedule. Sometimes we don’t know what we can handle until we push ourselves a little. If you think you can handle 15 units, take 18 or 21. You can easily shave a year off your schedule. Or you may be able to add a minor or a double major.
I think the real benefit to a dense schedule isn’t that you’ll graduate sooner. The real benefit is that you’ll enjoy a richer experience. Taking five classes instead of four means more learning, more achievement, and more friends. And what employer wouldn’t be attracted to a student who graduated more quickly than his/her peers? This sort of thing sure looks great on a resume.
Advice from Psychology Today says keep an open mind about your prospective college major:
"Try to ignore the pressure to declare your major before you're ready. It may feel like "everyone" has declared a major and knows what career they want to pursue, but that's really not the case. Surveys show that about 80% of first-year students don't know what they plan to major in-- and that over 50% of college students change their majors at least once before they graduate. Most schools allow you to pursue up to four semesters of study before you are required to declare a major, so if you need that much time, take it."
Read: How to choose a major
"Be prepared to be surprised. Most colleges have distribution or core curriculum requirements that require you to take classes in subjects you are currently unfamiliar with-- or maybe even dislike. Keep an open mind-- one question I ask my seniors who take my career classes is: "How many of you are majoring in the subject you planned to major in when you came to college?" Out of a class of 40 students I usually see only about 5 raised hands. I then ask them how they discovered their chosen major--- and for a majority of those students it was because they "had" to take a class in the subject and found it and/or the professor so interesting they decided to learn more."
Xatal has 50 great tips for freshmen with some of the most solid advice relating to becoming more social in a new environment.
- "Keep an open mind to different lifestyles and viewpoints. People in college come from all different walks of life, don’t rule them out just because their hobbies and views are different than yours. Make friends of all different types."
- "Adopt a ‘Yes Man‘ attitude. Start accepting opportunities as they come to you instead of making excuses not to do something. You’ll be amazed at how much more interesting your life will become."
- "Make friends early on. The first couple of weeks of school are the easiest time to make friends. Take advantage of this to meet people and put yourself out there."
- "Leave your dorm room door open when you’re there. This is a great way to encourage people on your floor to stop in and chat for a bit. When everyone on a floor does this, a sense of community develops pretty quickly."
The next piece comes from a great guest post provided by Isa Adney of CommunityCollegeSuccess.com on 10 things you need to start doing for guaranteed success in college. Here are a couple to get you going:
- Write down your goals
Writing down your goals changes everything. It feels like magic. That magical feeling comes from the incredible results of being focused. The most common thread in all successful college students I’ve ever met is the ability to focus.
When you write down your goals and read them every day, your mind is suddenly focused on what you need to do that day and what opportunities to seize in order to make those goals a reality. Write down your goals today and put them all over your room. Trust me.
- Visit the career center often
It’s vital to figure out what major and career interests you the most as soon as possible. Having direction will give new life to your college experience. The best way to find this out is through your college’s career center. Take all the career tests they have. Read at least three books about career discovery. Do a resume review. The career center is one of the most underutilized resources in college and yet it is one of the most valuable.
- Get a fascinating internship
Internships can open doors and help you learn about the professional world more than anything else. Whether it is paid or unpaid, in a large company you’d die to work for or a small start-up, find one that fascinates you. Get an internship doing something or being very close to something you really, really want to do with your life. This is where internships have the most benefit, because you’ll have the opportunity to see if it’s something you actually want to do. It will either show you the career is not what you expected it to be, or it will give you a great experience and contacts in the career you want to go into.
Here are three great recommendations from their “88 Surfire Tips for Succeeding in College”:
- "Take advantage of every moment you have in the next few years. At most colleges you have a plethora of resources there to help you grow into a successful person, if you simply know where to look and are willing to take advantage of them."
- "Prepare for each class as though there would be a pop quiz. The benefit of this is two-fold: firstly, you'll be more able to participate in class; secondly, you'll be prepared if there actually is a pop quiz."
- "Get to know your professors. It is pretty easy to coast through college without ever getting to know your professors. It will take a bit of effort to get many of them to even learn your name. But doing so could really pay off when you need a letter of recommendation or if you plan on doing an independent study."
From studying to college life, Psychology Today comes in with a wide range of solid tips for students.
- "Get involved on campus. All work and no *productive* socializing is boring."
- "There are a lot of free activities on campus. Take advantage of them."
- "Stay on campus on weekends. If you go home every weekend because you are homesick or have a girlfriend/boyfriend back home, you will be missing out on a lot of the college experience."
- "Use flashcards to quiz yourself when studying. And get someone else to quiz you with them. If you always quiz yourself with your own flashcards, you may skip over some that you don't know the answer to."
A great up-and-comer to the college advice scene, Thomas Frank shares 42 things he learned his freshman year of college. Here are five quick ones:
- "Get to know your professors. College is just as much about networking as it is about sitting in class. Plus, most of them are bored out of their skulls during office hours."
- "Live in the campus residence halls your first year if you can. Residence halls are much, much more social than apartments, and you’ll be involved in a lot more cool things."
- "When you study, don’t do it in your room. Also, try to use an active study method such as making flashcards or writing your own quizzes. It’s a lot less boring and a lot more effective than just looking over your professor’s slides."
- "Get out and explore your campus. If you have to ask your friends where the main financial office is, you’ve failed. Same goes for exploring the city your campus is in."
- "Be confident, get out of your comfort zone, and try new things. College is the greatest opportunity you’ll ever have for personal development."
Thomas Frank did a follow up to his freshman post: 27 Tips he learned during his sophomore year. Here are some of the highlights:
- Don’t take on commitments just because you think they’ll look good on a resume.
- Try to focus on a few things rather than juggling a ton.
"Students – especially the success-minded ones – tend take on commitments by the boatload. They think that the more things they fill their resumes with, the better. The problem with this strategy is that, if you try to do everything, you’ll be good at nothing. Hardly anyone remembers the people in history who were the Jacks-of-all-trades (with a few exceptions); no, the ones we remember are the ones who found one passion stuck to it."
- RainyMood + classy music = perfect study sounds.
"Great study music can make late-night cramming sessions a lot more bearable, but things really get interesting when you combine it with white noise. By far my favorite type of white noise is the sound of rain – and I’m definitely not the only one. RainyMood, a site whose only purpose is to play the sound of rain, has been Liked, Tweeted, or otherwise shared over 456,000 times. This insanely popular site is the perfect companion for low-key music."
Some of the key points taken from our 100+ tips for college include:
- Take advantage of office hours. They are there for a reason. It's your chance to get one-on-one help from a highly qualified teacher. If you are struggling in class, there is no reason why you shouldn't be going to your teacher's office hours.
- Make a real effort to get to know more people. This is a new beginning for everybody and a great place to make new friends. Be outgoing and ready and willing to meet new people. These people are in the same boat as you.
- Before selecting your major, consider taking a few related classes or even doing an early internship to make sure it's actually something you want to do.
- Take a wide variety of classes your first two years, that's your experimental phase. Take the courses that interest you and some that don't. Give your mind and soul opportunities to be bent in directions you would not ordinarily choose. You may just find something you love that you didn't even know existed or that you thought you hated.
College Money Tips
This site offers immediate financial advice for those about to go off to college:
"Now that you’re on your own, you might be tempted to spend money on all the things your parents wouldn’t let you have before. Go slow. If you play it smart, you can avoid the sort of money troubles that plague many young adults."
To follow up on this money advice, they also include:
- "When you want to buy something, ask yourself “Do I need it?” If you think you do, then wait. Don’t buy on impulse. Write the object of your desire on a piece of paper and pin it to the wall. Look at it every day for a week. If, at the end of the week, you still think you need it, then consider purchasing it."
- "Live without a car. Cars are expensive: gas, maintenance, insurance, registration, parking. Stick close to campus. Learn to use mass transit. Find a friend who has a car."
- "Take advantage of campus activities. There’s always something to do. Attend free movie festivals. Pay a few bucks to see the local symphony every month. Support the sports teams. Attend lecture series. Get the most from your student ID!"
CollegeScholarships.org offers up a ton of money saving tips, including these gems:
- "If you are buying new [textbooks], check for an “international” edition. The book will be almost exactly the same, except for maybe some Chinese characters on the front, AND it will be exponentially cheaper."
- "If you live on campus and pay for a partial or whole meal plan, then use it. Some programs don’t restrict you from taking food to go or eating as many meals as you wish."
- "If you’re buying a computer, save by shopping the student specials; discounts, rebates and back to school specials. Some regions/states even have a tax-free shopping week. Apple Computer offers student discounts to students and teachers, and consistently advertises important education incentives and rebates."
- "A student travel discount card will get you nice discounts on accommodations, food, and transportation if you are traveling nationally or internationally."
"Have fun while you’re in college. You will never again have the same mixture of freedom (no parents!) and direction (go to class!) in your life, so take advantage of it. Take advantage of all the free seminars and conferences your school will no doubt offer, go to the free movie nights and participate in intramural sports. Most of all, leave your comfort zone and try things you don’t think you’ll like because you never know what can happen. Best of all, most things on campus will be free (technically it’s included with your tuition) so take advantage! Once you graduate, everything will cost money."
And on selling textbooks…
"List your textbooks online about a week before finals. That way by the time it sells, you will have no need for them. If the book is being reused the next semester, list it on your school’s for sale boards. You will earn far more selling it locally than on a website, which takes a commission."
This is good advice because it is the best time to sell.
- Keep an eye out for free activities on campus. Most college campuses have free entertainment almost every night. For example: some colleges have a weekly movie night that is free to all students.
- Take a look at your college bill. Certain fees are optional. If you won't be using your college's fitness center, remove the fee.
- Take advantage of student services. There are plenty of free programs that assist you while going to school. From health care to transportation, there are many different ways to save money.