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  26 WAYS TO MAKE COLLEGE LIFE EASIER
 

1. Don't pick a roommate that you have gone to school with your whole life long. First of all, you don't want to ruin what has been a beautiful friendship. Second, one of the points of college is to get to know different people, to learn to adapt to different ways of doing things. Plan for your good friend to live on the same floor, close by. And then introduce each other to the new people you are meeting.

2. Learn to do your own laundry and to iron. In every freshman's life there comes a time when you will find yourself rooting through your hamper to find your cleanest dirty shirt. Learn to do your own laundry so that your whites stay white and so that your classmates don't think that you are a homeless person who has just come into class to get out of the cold. Learn to iron your shirts so that you avoid expensive cleaning bills. Surprise your mom by coming home without 7 loads of laundry.

3. This January start buying extras of your favorite shampoos, toothpaste, deodorant, and other personal care products. Put them in a box at the top of your closet and start stockpiling. When you are off at school and short on money, you will have already bought the items that seem to take a large chunk of your money. It also gives you a reason to go home from time to time.

4. In college, books are expensive. And you have to buy them. (You also have to buy your own Scantrons for tests.) You can easily spend between three and four hundred dollars per semester on books. Start saving ten percent of your money now to buy the books you will need for college.

5. Buy a big fat college-rule spiral notebook for each class. Write the name of the class in Magic Marker on the front cover. Take that notebook to that class every time you go. Staple the syllabus that your professor gives you to the inside cover and highlight your due dates. Keep all of your notes from that class in that notebook. Staple handouts to pages inside the notebook in order of when you get them. You don't want to have to hunt through every notebook you have for notes for a test. Disorganization causes more failure than anything except laziness.

Taping lectures is over-rated. If you don't listen to the tape and take notes every night, you wind up with countless hours of tape to listen to. Plus you don't know which class is on which tape. Take notes. No one has died from taking notes.

6. Learn to use a calendar or day-timer. These calendar books are not just for real adults. You need them when planning activities around your tests, papers, and projects. When you get your syllabus, put the due dates for papers and projects and the dates for tests in your day-timer. And then look at your day-timer every day. Never plan an activity without looking at your book to see what happens the next day. Some of the PDA's that most of us use nowadays don't give us a look at the full month. You can't afford to be surprised by a test date or due date. 

7. Do not get plastic. You may not realize it, but your credit rating begins with your first loan or credit card and then follows you for a very long time. Some people make mistakes with plastic in college that destroy their credit ratings, making it impossible to buy a house or car later on down the line. You have a lifetime to accumulate debt. Postpone getting into debt as long as you can.

8. Get involved with a group on campus. High school students sometimes think that they have made a life for themselves when in actuality, the school has made a life for them.  In college you must take the first steps to getting involved. Fortunately there are many organizations to join. Some are social. Some are honorary. All can help you make friends and/or learn more about the career that you have chosen. Also this is a school that you have chosen to go to. Support your school. Go to the games. Buy school T-shirts and sweatshirts.

9. Study, study, study--You parents aren't paying all of this money just so that you can go to a four-year party. At first it doesn't seem like much learning is going on. You are only going to classes about half of the time you went when you were in high school. And the professors don't seem to assign much. They just want you to read. And you can do that later, right? Wrong! Keep up with your reading. Read your assignments on a daily basis and take notes on what you read. Use your highlighter. Summarize chapters. Take note of key words and memorize their definitions.

10. Stay sober at parties--Moral issues aside, this is the right thing to do for all of you, but it is especially important for women.  WOMEN--If you are sober, you can make informed decisions for yourself. The first thing that alcohol does is lower your inhibitions.  Things that you know to be wrong when you are sober don't seem all that bad when you have had a few drinks. Some college guys count on that. You can wind up having experiences with people whose last names you don't even know and wind up with the embarrassing and/or fatal diseases that go along with it. You can wind up suffering great trauma and humiliation--enough so that going to school won't be possible. Stay sober. You won't regret it. MEN--If you are sober, you are less likely to get involved with someone that you know little about. You don't go to college to become a father, and you don't go to college so that you can experience a date-rape charge. If the woman you are with has had too much to drink, she cannot give consent. If you are too drunk to know how much she has had, you might be in deep legal trouble and not remember enough about the experience to defend yourself in a court of law. Stay sober and encourage your date to stay sober. You won't regret it either.

11. Re-read Number 10.  It's that important. :)

12. Start out with basic courses that can and will transfer irrespective of what your major is. I know that you think that you know what you want to be, but don't be surprised if you change your major at least once. Ask any college graduate how many "extra" hours they have. I had 30. That translates into 10 extra courses ( and it costs $$$$$.)

13. Don't turn your nose up at the idea of starting at a junior college. It really is not a bad place to begin your college education, even if it is just to take a couple of classes this summer. And it is significantly cheaper than a four-year school. The same semester that at UT would cost you $2100 for tuition, fees, and books would only be $600 at Tomball College. 

14. Take a couple of classes at a community college during the summer even if you are going off to school for the fall semester. Take something that will transfer, of course, but it is not a bad idea to get a couple of classes under your belt before you are totally on your own.

15. Become the person that you want to be. Sometimes the conformity that high school encourages puts young people in a "box" that they have a hard time getting out of. College is a great time to begin to become the person that you want to be. Do some of the activities that you wanted to do in high school but were afraid that people would think that you were nerdy for enjoying. In college peer pressure should be totally out of your vocabulary. If someone ever wants to do something that you don't feel comfortable doing, don't do it. If that person no longer wants to be your friend, you are better off. Besides that there are 19,999 other people on campus to get to know.

16. Take a class for the simple reason that you have always wanted to learn about it--even if it has nothing to do with your major. One of the purposes of college is to learn about many different things. And one of the things that college can provide for you is a well-rounded curriculum. If you are studying engineering but have always loved Renaissance poetry, sign up for a poetry class. It is good for your spirit to develop all parts of your brain. Some classes speak to your mind. Others speak to your heart. Don't ignore either one.

17. Don't go to a college just because your boyfriend/girlfriend is there. What a rotten reason to pick a college. That school might be great for them, but it may have absolutely nothing to offer you. And if (when?) you break up, you are stuck at a school that you don't like and stuck being around a person that you no longer love. If one of the reasons for going to college is to become more independent, then actually become more independent. Choose a college that is right for you!

18. Stay in touch with your parents. (And not just to ask them for money.) They have some good advice to share. Besides that they want to know how things are going. After all they are probably paying for most of it! Don't just call when things are tough. Call to share the good news, too.

19. Get to know your professors. In big universities with huge classes you can easily feel like a grain of sand on the beach. Sit in the front. Introduce yourself to the professor. And go to every class. You probably won't have the same relationship with your professors that you had in high school with your teachers there, but it helps if professors can put a name to your face.

20. Find out who made an "A" on a test or paper. And then find out what they did differently from you. Look at their test or paper if possible. (After the test of course!) Ask them what and how they prepared for the test. Did they read more from the text? Did they take better notes? Find out, and then try it yourself. If you did badly on the first test, you have nothing to lose in trying someone else's methods.

21. Form study groups. And then really study. Don't just get together to socialize. 

22. Don't just give your notes to someone. Go with them to make a copy of your notes, or something like that. Once someone has your notes, how do you know that you will get them back in time for the test? You are there to do well in your classes. You are not there to help someone else who has not taken the time or the effort to learn how to take good notes themselves. If that sounds selfish, consider how you will feel if you have to tell your parents that you failed a course because you couldn't get your class notes back from someone that you loaned them to.

23. Learn to say "NO." You have said "NO" to your parents and to many of your teachers. Now is the time to say no to your "friends."  If someone wants to party, and you need to study, you must say "NO" to your friend. If someone wants to borrow your notes, say "NO." If someone wants to compromise your morals or values, say "NO." If your date wants to drive you home, and he/she has had too much to drink, say "NO." If someone wants you to join another club or activity, and you are "extra-curriculared out," say "NO." "NO" is not a bad word. In fact learning to say it at the right time can make you a better student and a happier person.

24. Keep your faith with youYou may have always gone to church at home with your parents, but now you are off at school, and you don't know how to get involved in a religious group there. Just go! The first time you go may be a little hard. But most congregations in college towns want college students to attend. You might find families who will "adopt" you when you need a home-cooked meal or when you need a sympathetic ear. And keeping involved with your religion will help you to strengthen your faith on your own so that it really becomes yours, not just your parents'.

25. Eat right. Freshman 15 refers to the fact that many freshmen, both guys and girls, gain 15 pounds during their freshman year. Also freshmen wear themselves out so that a visit to the infirmary is necessary. Eating at least one nutritious meal per day, drinking your orange juice, and taking a daily multivitamin will help you stay healthier and more academically productive.

26. Don't cram for exams. Get into the habit of summarizing your notes each day after classes. Keep up with your reading. Study for exams for a little while every night from the first day of the semester until the last day of finals. Material that is crammed into your brain seems to fall out of your brain just as quickly. Most college exams are comprehensive. That means that they cover material from the beginning of the semester until the end. There is no way to cram that much material into one all-nighter. This does not mean that you turn yourself into a nerd. Study from Sunday night until Thursday night. Then you can go out on the weekends and feel good about yourself and your efforts

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