37 Most Valuable Tips For Starting College (I Wish I Knew Before)

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Today, you are going to learn some valuable tips for starting college.

Starting college can be a big transition for many graduating high school seniors.

As a first-generation college student, having to move away from home to start a new chapter in my life was really intimidating.

Just like you, I wasn’t sure what to expect, where to go, what to do, and really needed someone to provide me some tips for starting college.

But after a couple years of trial and error, I started to get the hang of things and started asking people tips for starting college. 

After graduating college, I became an Academic Success Coach.

I facilitated workshops for college students and also helped high school students with time management, scholarships, how to study, college success tips, FAFSA, and other resources so they could graduate debt-free.

So you could say I know a thing or two about preparing for college and what’s most important to know.

Here’s a collection of valuable tips for starting college and things I put together for you to know about when going to college.

What Should I Know Before Going to College?

  • Going to college ONLY guarantees you an education not employment after graduation. Yes, you read that right. Many college graduates are facing underemployment, but you can easily prevent this from happening to you.

    Why College Graduates Are Underemployed

  • In college, you are going to make many new friends, meet diverse people, be exposed to different types of mindsets, and you will become a better version of yourself. 


  • Be sure to take advantage of the health center. Take health exams, get free condoms, tampons, do STI check ups, get access to birth control and plan B pills. Every college/university has specific resources they offer but for the most part, this is generally what they offer students.


  • Attend mental health therapy if you need it.  Do yourself a favor and go get help if you need it. Depression and anxiety are prevalent within our society, and many people actually die from these illnesses that are treatable.


  • Start saving as much money as you possibly can and reduce the amount of times you go out to party. Cutting back on the amount of times you get take out or go out and party will help you save more money than you think. 


  • Treat your body and mind with respect. When you start drinking, smoking, eating crap food, and not exercising, you are damaging your overall well-being and shortening your life-span.


  • Eat healthy meals, exercise daily, drink water, meditate, surround yourself with positive people, and get your 8 hours of sleep. 

Related: How To Boost Your Productivity and Achieve More (In Less Than 2 Weeks)

  • Master time management. This is honestly the major key to maintaining your sanity in college. Don’t believe me? Ask any college student who has been in the game for a couple years and they will tell you the same.


  • Make sure you are meeting with your academic counselor at least 2 times a month to make sure you are still on track to graduating college on time.


  • Be a respectful roommate, wash your dishes, and keep your area clean. Also, make sure you shower. No one likes a slob for a roommate. Plus taking care of your personal hygiene is important.

  • You will probably change your major or will think about doing so at least once. And that’s okay. But it’s much better to start figuring out what major you are passionate about early on – especially one that is going to support you financially. 
  • Want to travel the world? There are so many ways to travel the world while working towards your college degree. You can even get free housing!

Related: Genius Travel Tips For College Students (College Travel Guide 2020)

  • It’s time to be an adult and start making your own decisions. And also holding yourself accountable for your actions. It’s okay to make mistakes, so long as you learn from them and use those experiences to grow. I’m talking about financial and academic mistakes – not stupid ones…


  • You will stop talking to most (if not all) of your old high school friends eventually. When people go to college, they change (usually for the better). So unless they have a very tight connection, they will drift apart from their high school best friend(s). Be prepared for it.


  • Do not be afraid to ask for help with anything. And I mean A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Whether it’s financial, academic, or personal help. You are investing your money into an education, and institutions have resources to help aid you in anything that will result in your success. So take advantage of those resources.

How Should I Prepare for College Success?

  • Attend all your classes (even the early ones or the ones you might hate) and make sure that you sit in the front of the class.


  • Sitting in the front not only helps you see the information better, but you’ll listen more effectively and pay attention as well. Just remember that you are paying to be there.

  • Take good notes, and don’t be afraid to ask questions during class – professors get paid to guide you and answer your questions.


  • Go to office hours. Spend time getting to know your professors for all your classes. Trust me. Read my full blog post about the importance of office hours.

  • Start getting involved on campus by joining clubs, organizations, extra curricular activities or sports, and volunteering at events.

  • Gain work experience by getting a part-time job, internships, and volunteering at local organizations. Don’t know where to sign up for internships? 

Related: Internships For College Students: Easy Website Applications (Get One Today)

  • Study and put in the work to get good grades in your classes, as it can help with your eligibility of scholarships and internships. Want to start studying less and getting better grades?

    Here are “10 Tips To Improve Your Grades in College.


  • If you are going to a party, be smart. If you don’t have a DD, get an Uber! It’s better to pay $10 for a ride than $1,000 for a DUI (which also stays on your record and more consequences).


  • Explore all the resources your college/university offers. You will be surprised to find so many free resources to help you succeed.


  • Get out of your comfort zone and start trying new things. Things that will help you grow as an individual. This is the stepping stone for personal development.

How Do I Prepare for College Expenses?

  • Don’t bring a car to college. You might think it will be beneficial, but it only costs you more and more money every year. Trust. Take the bus, ride your bike, or carpool with your friends/roommates.

  • Apply for scholarships consistently. Like every day. This is the number 1 way you can truly pay for your college education. Applying for scholarships is easy if you know how to organize your time. In fact, here is a guide from Monica Matthews (who was featured on The Penny Hoarder) about how she helped her son make $100,000 in scholarships.

  • Find websites that help college students save money. There are literally hundreds of websites created specifically for college students. Unfortunately, most college students only know about 4 or 5 throughout their college journey. Here is a curated list of all the best college student websites that you need for survival.

  • Get a part-time job to start paying for your college tuition.

  • Reduce your cell phone bill. Speak to a representative from your service provider and ask how you can reduce your monthly phone bill. There’s always loop-holes. I was paying $80 a month for my phone bill and managed to get it reduced to $50. It only took one phone call.

  • Start a side-hustle during college that you can eventually turn into a full-time passive income machine. Get started with some of the hottest side-hustles right now that can generate money for you within months. Check out “Most Epic Jobs for College Students To Start as a Side-Hustle”.

  • Make a budget for how much you are going to spend and then hold yourself accountable to only spend that amount. Saving money is difficult and can be a pain in the butt. Start saving money with these 12 Free Money Management Budget Apps.

  • Embrace minimalism. No need to live in clutter. I bet you don’t use half the stuff in your room. Marie-Kondo your living space. And make some money by selling those items!

  • Live off campus. You’ll save more money, and you’ll learn to become more independent. #Adulting

  • Take advantage of student discounts! Goodness…. Did you know that Buffalo Wild Wings and Subway give 10-15% discounts to college students depending on the location? There are college student discounts for traveling the world, grocery shopping, textbooks and so much more! Read my full blog post, “53 Legit College Student Discounts You Are Not Using!

  • Start learning how to cook and prevent yourself from buying take out all the time. Save that dough and start kneading dough instead. You can recreate your favorite foods right from your kitchen and have leftovers.

  • Go to a community college instead. Research shows you will save over $15,00 worth of money by doing 2 years at a community college instead of a university.


What are some worries that you have about college? Are there any more tips for starting college that incoming college students should know about?


Let us know in the comments section below!


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