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Plan and act today so you have no regrets tomorrow...
Make friends!!! Especially someone who is local to the college neighborhood. You need to learn a lot of things very quickly:
Good places to get friends, besides those in your dorm, are the extracurricular groups
on campus. Those upperclassmen are eager to know and help you. So join one of interest
to you at the extracurricular activity fair or contact them via e-
Just like how you planned your high school years (with tips taken from this website, right?), you need to plan your college years carefully even if you have very little interest in going to grad school. You should always plan your academic pursuits with the possibility of going to grad school in mind. So talk to your counselor and find out the prerequisites for grad school. It may be as simple as signing up for a slightly more advanced math or intermediate courses. That way, if you suddenly decide to go to grad school, you won’t have to make up classes late in your college career.
Use your summer wisely. Get internships at institutions related to your intended career. Sometimes you can get job offers from those places even before you graduate. If nothing else, you make some valuable connections and learn about the real world. Money is not your top concern during those summers. Your future career should be the main concern, and so see your summer activities as opportunities to advance your future.
Maybe this is just a Harvard phenomenon. Some students would attend all the lectures (and sometimes even attend the sections and do the homework) for no credit the first time around, and then take the class for credit next year. Do this if you really have spare time.
Honestly your GPA is not as critical as in high school unless you want to go to grad school. It may matter for your first job – they have nothing else to evaluate you – but not afterwards. If you are thinking about your job hunting after college, pay more attention on research, internships, and other achievements (senior thesis, etc.). I don’t recommend spending that much time just to get an A instead of a B in a class.
I did attend all the lecture for a class simply out of interest on the topic, and I learned a lot from it. It’s really fun when you are not worrying about your grades.
If you are lucky, you can find the classes you want to try online at edX.org or other MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) sites.
The minute you know what classes you want to take, go to the bookstore and find the assigned textbooks. Buy used ones if they are available. Used ones may have valuable notes in them and they cost about ¼ less. You can also buy online at many bookstores and textbook exchanges (e.g., eCampus, BookRenter, and Barnes and Noble). You can even rent them instead of buying them. If you find a textbook online for a lot less, you can always return the ones you buy from the school bookstore within the first few weeks of the semester.
Although the campus bookstore and online bookstores do buy back used textbooks, they pay very little and get a rather big margin. So you may make more selling your books privately or online.
The campus bookstore will not buy back textbooks if the professors decide to use a newer edition. Not all the professors in all the schools will switch to the newer edition at the same time, and so you may still have a chance to sell them online. Also, oftentimes there’s very little difference between the old and the new edition, and some professors will actually help students who bought older editions by telling them when there’s a difference between the two editions.
Some books are available in the library as “reserved” – you can check them out for a few hours each time. For some books that you don't need to read often, that may be good enough for you. Some books are actually available for checking out because the school has more copies than needed for reserves. (I survived one semester without buying any textbooks once. Just keep renewing and get your friends to help you if you have to.) Remember, you cannot just copy unlimited pages from the reserved books. Local copy shops will refuse to do it for you, and doing it yourself (beyond a few pages) may lead to trouble if seen by the librarian.
In some cases, only a small portion of a book is used in class. Therefore, read the syllabus carefully and figure out which books are minimally used, and just borrow them from the library or friends when you need them.
For those of you who have to read a lot of classics (e.g., books that are old and
whose copyright have expired) or who are more comfortable with electronic gadgets
First and foremost is a good computer that's reliable, and has service plans with
a retailer near the school so you can always get help if needed. Unless you are
a visual arts or GIS major, chances are any computer on the market today is good
enough for you. You don't have to get a top-
A website that tells you what’s on sale each week is http://salescircular.com . Any
regular desktop or laptop computers being sold today are probably good enough for
most college students, and so there’s no need to buy a top-
You can buy software with educational discount, and these are often found on-
You can also ask your parents if their employers offer Microsoft Office through the
Home Use Program. Some schools also participate. Go to that website and put in
your new school e-
There are even free software the do the work of those expensive office suites (I personally use these myself):
Take the money you save from the computer and software purchase and spend it on peripheral equipment. A second monitor does wonders for you, and with LCD monitors being so cheap and small, getting a second one shouldn't be an issue. Once you have tried using two monitors, you'll never want to go back to just one.
You should get a black-
Why not ink-
Online backup is a must. Your school should have similar services for you (or just upload your files daily to online storage provided by the school). Or use something like Dropbox. If you use a desktop computer, you should get an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) for the machine in your dorm. If you use a laptop, get a good surge protector. Surges can damage your machines without warning. Also get a spare power cord from Amazon or eBay so one is always plugged into the outlet in your dorm. An aftermarket unit will do just fine.
Bring extra USB cables (A-
Most people have cellular phones. Get one that has “tethering” capabilities, either through a USB cable or through a wifi hotspot, and sign up for such a feature. Most newer Android phones do. iPhones don’t. With such a phone, there’s no need to get an aircard or go to places that have free hotspots.
Finally, should you get an extended warranty/service plan? For peace of mind, I’d
recommend it. But perhaps more importantly, you need to know who will do the repairs
and where they are done. Some on-
Getting clean drinking water is a major problem for college students. For those
who don’t have private bathrooms in their suites (which is the case for most freshmen),
you are stuck with high-
Freshmen are often envious of upperclassmen who have the sofas, fridges, futons,
TVs, and other non-
Prices of airline tickets fluctuate drastically with or without oil price fluctuations. Your best strategy may be to set up price alert notifications on sites such as Expedia long before your trip and grab a ticket when prices drop to a level you are comfortable with.
If you live at or your school is near a major hub for a major airline (e.g., Chicago or Denver for United, or Atlanta for Delta, etc.), you may want your parents to have an airline rewards credit card that gets you miles on those airlines. It’ still hard to exchange your miles for seats sometimes, but could come in handy in case of emergency. Once I got a ticket 30 minutes before departure. Also many airline cards will give you free luggage allowance.
Some credit cards offer flexible rewards that can be used on any airline. Do your comparison shopping and read the reviews. Some have so many restrictions that they may be worthless. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I was in a great program once but they kept cutting the benefits over the years, and now I can’t even get tickets (for a flat rate) from it anymore.
You'll need to take taxi rides to and from the airport if you bring any significant amount of luggage. These are expensive. So bring some cash and small change. At airports, you get taxis at a centralized location, and there's usually a small line so follow the crowd. Before you jump into the line, ask to see if other students (they shouldn't be hard to spot) are going to your school also. You can share a taxi and split the cost. If someone needs to get off before you do, that person should pay for half of the bill at that time. You should figure out the precise location to get off to minimize dragging your luggage. Print a map to show the driver where your dorm is and where is the closest place they can park temporarily.
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