College Tips: How To Survive Your First Week on Campus

In Advice
July 19, 2019
9 min read

College Tips: How To Survive Your First Week on Campus

Congratulations! You’ve graduated high school and are now on your way to college. With just a few weeks left before you move on campus, you might be feeling nervous or under prepared. To help guide your transition, we’ve compiled some of the top college tips on how to survive your first week.

During my first week at college, I was terrified. I attended Arizona State University, and the campus is massive. Although I had the luck of knowing students on campus, I didn’t know anyone in my dorm.

Luckily, my older sister helped guide me through what I needed to know without sugar coating it! Now, it is my turn to pass the baton down to new incoming students, like you.

General Tips

1. Do not skip orientation!

I completely skipped my college orientation and I wish I had gone. Not only will you meet new students before the school year starts, you receive TONS of info on where your classes will be held, where the rec rooms are, clubs you can join, and so much more.

With your welcome email or packet you will see multiple orientation days. Pick one and commit to it. Trust me, you won’t regret it unless you don’t go!

Purchase College, NY

2. Buy a large backpack.

A big miss I made was buying a cute, small backpack that I absolutely despised carrying around. It had no back support or storage. I made so many trips back to my dorm to switch out books and binders that within the first two weeks, I had purchased a more economical backpack.

Now, you can do pretty much anything on your computer with e-textbooks. Investing in a high-quality computer travel that doubles as a backpack is totally worth it. Here are some of our favorites.


3. Create a schedule that works for your life

Let’s face it, we all have high ambitions when we go into college. We are going to study every night, start waking up early for class, join a recreational sand volleyball team, and color coordinate your closet from dark to light.

While you will go through changes in your personality and evolve as a person, don’t make your freshmen year all about change. If you aren’t a morning person, please don’t pick the 7:00am Chemistry class. We promise, you can move your schedule around and pick different classes that are still available for you.

Reminder: to go to your school orientation where they will talk alllll about this and let you know your options to move classes, the drop class schedule, and more.

4. Invest in a great weekly planner

I wasted so many post-it notes on my mirrors trying to remind myself of study group times, test dates, and even my class schedule. Make life easier on yourself and leave it all in one place, i.e. your planner.

Take it wherever you go and have enough space to add notes, file papers, and create color tab reminders for each class you take. You can even add in times to remind yourself to call your parents. Trust me, they WILL appreciate the gesture.

Here are some of our favorites:


5. Make a friend in every class

When was the last time you asked someone to be your friend? I bet you were on a playground! This is your opportunity to spread your wings and become friends with any and all people… not just your clique.

Making friends in college and in your classes can be more than just purely social, though. Becoming buddies for study sessions, note sharing, or for a class debrief if you are absent are important ways to stay up to date with curriculum.

6. Download the EverNote App

EverNote is one of MANY study aid apps that are available for a deep discount. Other apps are even free. EverNote helps you download, organize, track, and store all of your notes in one place. There are even options for attachments, audio notes, and more.

Check out College Choice’s 15 best study apps for college students. You will find one that will work for your study habits and budget.


7. Buy your dorm essentials ahead of time

Yes, there are instances where you will note you’ve forgotten small items like hangers, desk organizers, or a white erase board. However, there are big items like bed raisers, storage bins, rugs, and sheets that actually for you don’t want to forget.

We created an essentials list specifically for this reason! We had so many students and parents give us advice and insight on items they forgot and wished they brought you don’t want to miss.

Read through our Dorm move-in essentials list here.


8. Read your syllabus, twice

A huge mistake I made was not compiling each syllabus and writing down major due dates, test dates, and office hours right off the bat in my planner. I ended up having to ruffle through my paperwork and re-write or check over events and dates that were important.

You *should* get your course syllabus on the first day of your class. Some teachers will send them out via email earlier, just depends on their style!

9. Don’t hide in your dorm

College is an adjustment, please don’t downplay this major move. You will be going through the motions of a new way of learning, new friends, a new space to live in, and potentially living in a new town or state.

It might be easy to hide in your dorm, but please don’t do this! There is so much to do on and off-campus. Get involved with clubs, groups, or participate in dorm activities to ward off the college blues.

Staying healthy and fit

10. Make use of your campus gym

If you are an active person or are looking to stay fit with all the temptations of food and drink on campus, locate your college gym beforehand and inquire as to how you get a membership or what discounts you can take advantage of.

Freshmen 15 is a thing, trust me. Keep it off alongside staying mentally clear and motivated by maintaining some type of workout routine while you are in college.

Abby Eubanks via Clemson University

11. Choosing healthy will always work

There are so many ways you can choose to eat healthy, even making food in your dorm! Buy fresh food, get together with your roommate, suite mates, or floor and cook your meals together with healthy ingredients.

Avoid fast food and always consult Pinterest for budget friendly, easy recipes.

Check out this TASTY video with dorm recipes:

Making money and budgeting

12. Stay within your budget

Yes, you are now in charge of your money, spending, and activities. The biggest mistake most freshmen make is to underestimate the cost of #adulting. For most of us, it is the first time we will be on our own financially, and lets face it, most high schools do not help students outside of balancing a checkbook.

Don’t rack up debt. Don’t open a credit card if you don’t know the basics. Keep your credit score (if you have one) high.

Learning how to budget your money is far more important and involved for one subsection of a blog, so check out this video on budgeting 101 for college students for a crash course!


13. Do not pay full price for your textbooks!

Do not, I repeat, do not pay extra for your textbooks!

Students who save money have reported these major ways to cut corners and save a ton of money on text books:

  • Split the cost with another student with the same major or in the same class.
  • Subscribe to websites and open education resources including: Boundless,
  • Buy or rent textbooks through Chegg, Amazon Textbooks.
  • Rent textbooks through your college bookstore.
  • See what is available at the library.

14. Have a side hustle

It might not seem possible but there are plenty of side hustles you can participate in and make some money. Here is a short list of ways you can make money in college:

  • Sign up as a tutor, privately or within your college in a subject you are skilled in and is easy for you to learn. If it is easy to learn, it will be easy to teach!
  • Join, an online freelance website offering services from printing out and passing out flyers for a business to graphic design, programming, and logo design. If you have a set of skills you can sell, join Fiverr for free.
  • Join Vindale Research, this is one of the legit and high paying survey platforms on the internet. This website pays you direct cash through PayPal, not gift cards and points.
  • MindsPay is another high paying and genuine survey platform on the internet. This platform offers you up to $50 per each survey. Not only for taking surveys, but you can also make money by reading promotional emails. You can make $0.50 per each email you read.
  • Write and charge for it! Freelance writing is the foot in the door I needed to start some of the highest paying gigs I have now. At first I wrote resumes for graduating students (yes, as a freshmen), and moved on to more advanced white paper subjects.
  • Start a blog. Are you a fashionista? Do you have great advice for traveling? Are you interested in a subject you think others will read about? You can monetize a website by selling adspace. Just write and distribute content worth reading.
  • Become a virtual assistant! There are hundreds of thousands of jobs out there who need virtual assistants for part-time or super-part time work. Find them here.


Whatever your fears are, you aren’t the first student who has had worries, anxiety, or questions around what the first week of school will be like. Ask lots of questions, know it is OKAY to be a beginner, and prepare yourself as best as possible for this new transition in your life!

For more advice and dorm decor ideas, check out our blog and website for our favorite products.


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Warby Parker