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100 Essential Lifehacks Every Student Should Know


Getting through college can be a breeze for some and an uphill battle for others. No matter where you fall on that spectrum, you can always use a little advice to help you along the way. The following 100 lifehacks offer advice on all aspects of the college experience, from studying to having a social life to helping you find your way and get the most out of your college years.

General

These tips will help you no matter where you’re at in college or what age you are.

  1. Practice public speaking. The vast majority of future careers, not to mention your courses in college, will ask you to speak in front of others. If you struggle with it, practice it while you can so it won’t be as terrifying when it really matters.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone struggles sometimes, so don’t feel like you’re less successful because you need a little help.
  3. Make the most of your college years. College will blow past faster than you could have ever expected. Make sure you make the most of the opportunities for both education and fun it has to offer you.
  4. Try to balance your life. While you might be at college to earn a degree, don’t make your life all about school. Give some of your time to friends, the community and work as well.
  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself. There is no such thing as a perfect person. Give yourself a break when you make a mistake and take it as a life lesson.
  6. Take risks. Most college students are young, with few responsibilities outside of going to class. This makes it the ideal time to try out new things, follow new interests, travel the world and do things you might not have the freedom to do later on.
  7. Take courses outside your major. You will be infinitely more well-rounded for having taken classes outside of your major. Sure, you might never use the information gleaned in them in your career, but they will show you new ways to think and see the world.
  8. See college as an opportunity, not an obligation. Many people around the world do not have the chance to pursue higher education. Keep in mind that you are in a privileged position and take advantage of it.
  9. Focus on your goals, not your parents. Many parents can be pushy about making sure their children follow a set career path. Your parents may have your best interests in mind, but remember, at the end of the day it’s you who has to live your life everyday.
  10. Have fun, but not too much. With newfound freedom and little supervision it can be tempting to overindulge in college. Keep in mind what you’re there for (to get an education) and ensure your extracurriculars don’t take over your regular studies.
  11. Take advantage of opportunities. When opportunity knocks, answer. You will be presented with a wealth of chances to do things in college so take chances, open your eyes and make the most of everything you have in front of you. It could pay off big in the future.

Studying

Those seeking some help in their study skills will find it in these tips.

  1. Unplug. The Internet, video games and the television are huge distractions. Unplug them if only for a few hours so you can actually get something done.
  2. Find something to motivate you. Sometimes even something as basic as being hungry can help motivate you to get work done. Tell yourself you can’t do whatever it is you want to do until you’ve finished enough work.
  3. Bargain. Sometimes it can help to bargain with yourself. Allow yourself one hour of fun for every two hours of work you do.
  4. Set hours. Help yourself get into a studying routine by setting aside hours of your day to focus solely on your studies.
  5. Have a set study place. Find a place in your home or around campus where it’s quiet and you can set your mind to working without interruptions.
  6. Reduce outside distractions. From the phone ringing to roommates peeping in, try to reduce the amount of things that can distract you and get you off track.
  7. Get the hard stuff done first. If you have a particular assignment you’re dreading, tackle that first. The rest of your work will feel like a breeze after that weight has been lifted.
  8. Take a stretching break. Get up and walk around every once in awhile. It will help you feel refreshed and let you refocus.
  9. Never study all night. Studying all night will let you go over more material but it won’t help you remember it. Studies have shown that studying and then sleeping on it is a far more effective method.
  10. Try mindmaps. If you’re working on a particularly difficult concept or need to jot down your thoughts for a paper a mindmap can be a valuable tool.
  11. Study as a group. Some people simply work better on teams than solo. If you’re one of those find a study group to work with. Just make sure you’re doing as much studying as socializing.
  12. Ask questions. There will inevitably be something about an assignment or a lesson you won’t understand. Never be afraid to email or approach a professor or TA for help if you need it. After all, that’s what they’re there for.
  13. Start early. When you’ve got a major test coming up don’t wait until the night before to start studying. Give yourself a few days to tackle the information. You’ll be less stressed and remember it better.

Courses

Learn how to excel and stand out in your courses with these hacks.

  1. Focus on writing well. Few things are more important in your scholastic and professional career than being able to write clearly. No one expects you to be the next Hemingway, but you do need to know how to construct well-crafted writing.
  2. Read the material before class. It seems basic, but many students assume they can follow along without doing the work .You’ll do much better by reading the material beforehand and coming to class with any questions and comments you might have.
  3. Take notes. Sitting in class is good, but taking notes is essential for studying purposes. Make sure you’re jotting down all the information important to your course.
  4. Participate in discussion. If you want professors to take note of you, then speak up in class. Give your opinion, comment on readings and simply be an active participant in class. It takes some gumption but it will help you in the long run.
  5. Prepare for class. Whether your professor has asked you to do reading, look over material or have questions ready, it’s in your best interest to do it. You may not fail because of it, but you’ll get more out of your lessons when you do it.
  6. Speak up early. If you want to participate but are scared to do so, speak up when you know the answer. Then you’re less likely to be called on when you don’t.
  7. Pay attention to your professor’s viewpoints. You might not share them, but you can use these to you advantage when it comes time to take a test. If you’re more daring you can test them with your own research and investigations.
  8. Volunteer. If the professor asks for a volunteer, even for a small task, you can get noticed by volunteering yourself for the job.
  9. Go the extra mile. Unless you simply have to because of time constraints don’t do work halfway. Go the extra mile when it comes to your assignments. You’ll learn more, get recognition and have better material to add to a portfolio.
  10. Proofread. There is nothing that makes a good assignment turn sour faster than a lack of proofreading, so always go over your work a couple of times to catch errors.
  11. Pay attention to emails. If your professor or TA is taking the time to send you an email, you should take the time to read it. It could contain important information about the class.
  12. Investigate on your own. You aren’t limited to material presented in your courses when it comes to learning about new things. Take the initiative and pursue your own interests as well.
  13. Ask for more information. If there is something you found particularly interesting in class don’t be afraid to ask the professor where you can go to learn more about it.

Organization

Use these bits of advice to keep you from adding additional stress to your studies through lack of organization.

  1. Keep your inbox under control. It’s easy to let emails pile up in your inbox. Make sure you go through, delete and organize them regularly so they don’t become too unwieldy.
  2. Use a calendar or planner. There is no easier way to make sure you stay on track with assignments and tests (not to mention everything else in your life) than by keeping a calendar or planner handy. Write down important things as you get them so you never forget.
  3. Have a filing system. Make sure you keep all your important info where you can find it by developing a good filing system, even if it’s just a small crate with a few hanging files.
  4. Write down to-dos. You can use post-its or a computer based system, but knowing what you need to get done each day can be a big help in getting you there.
  5. Keep notes together. Losing your notes can be a disaster come exam time, so keep yours nice and neat in a single binder, folder or notebook so you’ll be able to find them when you need them.
  6. Color coordinate. If you’re a visual person, color coordinating your course materials could be a big help in keeping them organized.
  7. Work the syllabus. The syllabus should tell you everything you need to know about what to read, when to read it and when assignments will be do. Use it to plan out your semester accordingly.
  8. Have a place for things. You can’t stay organized if you don’t have a set place for things. Set up your room so that you have areas for all the things you need to keep track of.
  9. Know your own bad habits. If you know that you’re prone to certain bad organizational behaviors, catch yourself in the act and force yourself to have better habits when it comes to keeping your life under control.
  10. Visualize what you need to get done. Whether you create a list, leave post-its, or have a giant calendar, make tasks manageable by organizing them in a way so that you can clearly see what you need to accomplish.
  11. Embrace technology. Technology can be a distraction, but it can also be a big help when it comes to keep all your important stuff together. Make use of all the techie programs out there that are designed to keep you organized and productive.

Finances

Make sure you don’t spend beyond your means by following these helpful financial tips for students.

  1. Buy books carefully. Books can be super expensive if you don’t shop around. Try the library, online stores and discount shops before buying to make sure you’re getting the lowest price.
  2. Always shop around. What holds true for books holds true for everything else as well. If you’re looking to buy something take the time to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.
  3. Start a savings account if you don’t already have one. Even if you only contribute a little each month it will add up over time and help you out later on.
  4. Avoid credit cards. Unless you’re absolutely sure you can make the payments on time and won’t abuse the card, avoid getting one.
  5. Take advantage of freebies. There are loads of free entertainment, food and other events to be taken advantage of on campus. Make use of these to save you some money.
  6. Borrow rather than buy. Unless you really truly need something it can be much smarter and cheaper to get things from the library or borrow them from a friend rather than buying.
  7. Create a budget. You can help set yourself up for future financial success by creating a budget for your finances and sticking to it.
  8. Limit impulse buys. Stores are set up to get you to buy things you don’t really need. Avoid making these purchases as much as your willpower will allow you to.
  9. Eat at home. Eating out can add up fast. Save on food by learning how to cook simple but nutritious things at home.
  10. Keep records. From taxes to checking accounts, make sure you store and file your financial records for later.
  11. Get a job. You can give yourself money to live off of or just to have fun with by finding a job on campus.
  12. Know your loans. Make sure you’re not going to be paying off more than you possibly can by carefully researching any loans you get for school.

Health

Learn how to hack your college health with these basic but important suggestions.

  1. Stay hydrated. It might seem obvious but many students don’t drink enough water throughout the day. Remember that things like coffee and soda might be liquids, but they can dehydrate more than they quench your thirst.
  2. Eat the right foods, not just the convenient ones. It’s easy to rely on fast, fatty foods when you’re busy, but make an attempt to seek out healthy options at least part of the time. It’ll help you feel better, get sick less often and look good.
  3. Find time to work out. Most colleges give their students free access to fitness centers, so take advantage whenever you can.
  4. Take care of yourself when you’re sick. If you get a cold or flu don’t keep going to class. Stay home, email your professor and get some rest otherwise you could make yourself even sicker and spread it to others as well.
  5. Get enough sleep. If you’re like many college students, you don’t get much sleep between classes and socializing. Yet sleep can make a big difference in your health and your ability to do well, so aim for 7-8 hours a night.
  6. Make regular appointments. It’s important to make regular visits to your doctor and dentist to ensure that your body and teeth are in good health. Plus, you can take advantage of school and parental insurance before you have to pay for these visits on your own.
  7. Limit drinking. Drinking is part of the college experience but imbibing too much can leave you seriously unhealthy. Limit your drinking each week so you can have fun without sacrificing your well-being.
  8. Ride a bike or walk. Driving or taking a bus is easy, but so is getting there by your own locomotion. Biking or walking has the added bonus of giving you a workout while you get there.
  9. Go to the doctor. If you’re sick, not feeling well or think something might be wrong with you don’t wait to go to the doctor just because you’re busy. Make time to concentrate on your health so you can focus on your studies later.
  10. Keep backpacks from being too heavy. It might not seem like a big deal, but lugging around too many books can wreck havoc on your back and shoulders. Try to keep your load light when walking around campus.

Networking

Give yourself a leg up on your future career with these great networking tips.

  1. Find a mentor. If there is an alum or professor you admire, ask them to be your mentor. You’ll learn about your major and get helpful connections for the future.
  2. Develop meaningful relationships with professors. Your professors can serve as great recommenders and references when you’re applying for jobs, so take the time to get to know them and find out what they can teach you.
  3. Be helpful, kind and genuine. Being a jerk generally isn’t the best way to get ahead. Help others while helping yourself instead.
  4. Connect with professional groups. If your school has professional organizations on campus, hook up with these and learn all you can about your field and those working in it.
  5. Talk with people in your major. Don’t underestimate the power of networking with your fellow students. Even if you don’t end up best friends you may meet up further in the future and good relationships can go a long way.
  6. Take on internships. Internships are a great way to meet people working in your field and to get experience at the same time. You’ll also get a chance to figure out if this is really the career path you want to follow.
  7. Always say thank you. If someone does you a favor, never forget to say thank you, verbally or with a simple note. Small kindnesses and manners like these go a long way.
  8. Volunteer. Volunteering will give you a chance to meet new people, help the community and add experiences that are particularly valuable on a resume.
  9. Use technology. Sites like LinkedIn make it easier than ever to connect with others working in your field. Use it wisely.
  10. Go the extra mile. Whether you believe in karma or not, good deeds are generally repaid, so when you have the chance do something nice for others, go out of your way or just really step up. People will remember things like that and it can only help you down the road.

Social Life

Your studies are important but these hacks explain how to give some time to your social life as well.

  1. Join clubs. Clubs are a way to pursue your own interests with others who share them, allowing you to have fun and meet new people at the same time.
  2. Consider playing a sport. You can get a workout and form some lifelong bonds with others by seeking out sports teams to play on.
  3. Do work first. Having a social life is great but make sure you’re making your college work a priority.
  4. Always make time for friends. Even when you’ve got a ton to do, making time for fun with friends (even if you just meet for dinner) should always be important. It’ll give your brain a rest and let you come back to your work happier and more refreshed.
  5. Combine school and fun. Schoolwork and having fun don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Study with friends and you’ll get to socialize while learning as well.
  6. Just relax. School can be incredibly stressful so make sure to take a moment to step back now and again and take a breath.
  7. Do things together. From watching TV to heading down to the the cafeteria, enjoying simple everyday moments with friends can help build stronger relationships and let you have even more fun doing things you already like or need to do.
  8. Accept a variety of invitations. Take advantage of those moments when people offer you an invitation to do things with them. You could discover a new hobby, meet a great group of people or just have new experiences that open your eyes.
  9. Remember socializing is important too. It’s easy to get caught up with schoolwork, but a big part of the college experience is meeting new people, forming friendships and networking with others. Don’t let that fall by the wayside in your academic pursuits.

Planning for Graduation

It’s never too early to start thinking about where you want to be when you get out of school. These hacks offer some help no matter where you are in your studies.

  1. Talk to your academic advisor. He or she can help you plan out what courses you need to take in order to graduate with whatever major it is you please.
  2. Learn the technology of your trade. In a world dominated by technology, it would be silly not to know how to use at least some of the programs and technologies dominant in your field. If your classes aren’t teaching you, learn on your own.
  3. Join professional associations. These can help you learn about trends in your field and help you make valuable connections.
  4. Work for grades. While grades aren’t everything getting good ones can open up doors for you depending on your major. They can be especially important for those considering graduate studies.
  5. Know what jobs are out there. You can’t plan for what you want to do after graduation without knowing the possibilities for your major. Do a little research to see how you can use your degree.
  6. Follow your strengths. If you’re good at a particular aspect of your field consider focusing your attention there first. You might not find a job you love, but it’s a good place to start while you build up other skills.
  7. Always be professional. Even as a student it can be beneficial to have a professional demeanor in courses and in things related to school.
  8. Connect with alumni. Many schools have a great alumni network that can be incredibly useful when it comes to learning about your major or finding a job later on.
  9. Start looking early. If you’re prepping for graduation you may not want to wait until the last minute to start searching for work. Send out a few resumes and see what’s out there before you graduate.
  10. Figure out a plan. Having a plan doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind, but it does provide a framework within which you can work to meet your goals.
  11. Understand that things aren’t permanent. Many people change careers later in life or succeed in a field unrelated to their degrees so don’t freak out about picking a major and finding a career. Things will work out eventually, no matter the decisions you make about your career today.

December 15th, 2009 written by Staff Writers

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