College life can be the best years of your life. However, certain wrong decisions can also turn them into the worst years of your life. College students often complain about the campus life, the pressure of coursework, anxieties over grades and even the bland canteen food. Here is a list of 10 tips you need to note while you are attending a college in the US or anywhere else in the world for that matter.
Ways to live a cool college life
These are essential survival tips that you need to master to sail through the murky campus life of colleges.
1. Choose your college well:
One cannot over-emphasize this point. Choosing the right college can make all the difference. A number of things should be kept in mind while selecting the appropriate college: career prospects, placement history, campus life and fees. Of course, good colleges in the US require high SAT scores. Similarly, the so called ‘sandstone colleges’ in Australia require competitive scores in the public examinations. Most of these colleges have high course fees. Average college education in the US requires almost 40,000 dollars. The amount will certainly go down if you are going for a public university or a community college. But then almost all the top notch colleges in the country are run on private endowments and are frightfully expensive. As such try selecting a college that is moderately expensive and has good academic rankings.
2. Find out about the campus life:
The next big issue for a student is to search for the right kind of campus. After all, you are typically expected to spend about 3 to 4 years of your life in the campus. Just keep in mind the following tips and you will be good.
- Most of the US campuses would be multi-ethnic with a huge number of foreign students coming to study. So you should be comfortable with foreign students around you.
- US campuses are mostly residential. So be prepared to live alone if you plan to go to college.
- Most of the colleges and universities are situated either in big cities or in the immediate vicinity of such cities. For example, universities of Columbia, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Pennsylvania are situated within the city limits. If you are someone from a small town, adjusting to city life can be a difficulty.
- Finally, living on one’s own can itself be a huge challenge.
3. Choose the right subject:
If you have a flair for writing, do not take a major in physics. Similarly, if your knack is towards crunching numbers, listening to someone talking about the American War of Independence would be an utter wastage of time. In short, try to take a major which interests you. US universities allow a wide range of choices when it comes to selecting courses. Make full use of that. So it is highly possible to major in Art history with a minor in, say, English and Finance. So our advice to budding students would be: choose a subject that interests you rather than going for subject on the basis of its market value.
4. Get the best meal plan:
I agree that probably it is a bit weird to talk about food in an article on academics. But expenses on food account for more than half of the total expenses of a student. It is the only area where money can be saved without compromising about the quality of the food. Some important things to remember are:
- Most of the US universities have meal plans. Try to find out which suits you the best.
- If you are living in a shared accommodation with other college students, you would be expected to cook your own meals.
- Try to avoid fast food. Not only are they unhealthy, they also burn a hole in your pocket.
5. Make friends wisely:
A man is known by the company he keeps. The old English proverb still holds true for the present day. With news of obnoxious campus crimes taking place on a regular basis, the importance of finding the right friends has increased. While surely no one can guide you on how to choose friends, a few tips can be useful nonetheless:
- Try to have an open mind while choosing friends. The campus is likely to be filled with students of various colors and social backgrounds: Hispanics, South Asians, Chinese, African-Americans etc. Having a diverse group of friends helps to broaden your horizon.
- Have a friendly attitude towards your classmates. You never know who might be useful during the exams.
- Since campuses will be co-educational; expect frequent interaction with the members of the opposite sex. Once you get past your awkwardness, you will be able to forge strong and meaningful relationships.
- There would be few notorious elements. You will have no problem in identifying them. Try to stay clear of such elements.
6. Steer clear of troubles:
While campus life will give you the first taste of freedom, nonetheless there are few rules that you must obey even in one of the most liberal countries of the world.
- The minimum age for drinking is 21 in the US. If you are caught drinking without the required age limit, you will be convicted by the court of law.
- Although driving age is 18, rash driving and drunken driving are federal offences which may result in the loss of the privilege forever.
- Steer clear of fraternity parties if possible. Most of them are notorious for drugs and underage drinking.
7. Take some time out:
Beyond academics and co-curricular activities, you should have a genuine hobby, one that does not involve ‘Facebooking’, ‘Tweeting’ and ‘taking selfies’. These are utter wastage of time and do not contribute to the overall growth and development of an individual. Instead develop a hobby that is creative and interesting. Here are a couple of choices:
- If you love pictures and images then photography is the best option for you. All you need to have is a DSLR camera. You can even join the college photography club for meeting fellow aficionados of photography.
- If aesthetics is not your cup of tea and you want something more adventurous then you might join the football team or the mountaineering society.
- If intellect is what you seek that perhaps the best option is to join debating or elocution clubs of the college.
8. Maintain a good relation with family:
Leaving for college does not mean cutting of your family. After all your family is the strongest pillar of support in times of crisis. Try to call your parents whenever possible. Drop in a card or a small gift whenever possible. Try to visit them whenever possible and not just on Christmas or the Easter. Your family loves you and you should not hold any bar while trying to show that.
9. Take care of your health:
Medicine is expensive and you cannot afford to fall sick in the middle of the term. Most of the college campuses in the US have their own health centers. You will need to register before you can be treated. Additionally you must have health insurance for serious ailments. Get the best out of campus life by staying healthy and not falling sick.
10. Contact student services if necessary:
Despite all these tips, it is highly likely that you will encounter a problem every now and then. If you are not sure of whom to approach, go straight to the student cell. These cells are run by senior students who have been in the business long enough to give you genuine advice. They provide a range of services such as:
- Finding accommodation for you
- Choosing a meal plan
- Legal advice
- Career counseling
- Academic advice
These services are free of cost and will help you a lot in your college life.
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