Five small (but important) things you need to figure out when you start school
Well, August is over, and the fall semester has started. This is the time when most students start college, and you’re probably among them. I’m sure you know the basics: Make sure you classes are picked, know where you’re going and when, get your textbooks and any school supplies you need and show up on time. But there’s more to keep in mind than that, and it’s not always big things. Sometimes the little things make a difference, and can impact your college career. Here’s a few small things that you should figure out before you start school.
1. Where will your food come from?
Believe it or not, this is important. Are you buying your lunch at school? Or your dinner, if you have later classes? Are you buying groceries and cooking them yourself? Are you getting food from home? Your money, time and health are all affected by your choice. It’s faster and more convenient to get food at school, but it will usually cost more and may be worse for you. Groceries may be a pain to go out and get, but they’re cheaper and often healthier. As an aside, if you’re looking for healthy food on the cheap, check out one of the CCSAI’s Good Food Boxes.
2. What activities are you dropping?
Here’s a truth about your leisure time when you come to college, courtesy of Thought Catalog: You won’t have time for every single recreational thing you do already. For example, if you’re a media hound who marathons TV shows, goes to see movies, plays video games and reads books, you’ll have to accept that you won’t have time for all of them anymore. The good news: You’ll still have time for some, just not all. So decide what you like best. Games? TV? Movies? Books? Pick your favourites, and be ready to drop the others. This doesn’t only apply to media, though. Sports, working out, or anything else that takes up your time needs to be considered. You don’t have to cut it all: Just pick what’s the most important. You still have time off, but you need to ration that time.
3. Are you going to have a credit card?
College is the perfect place and time to begin figuring your finances out. If you’re coming straight out of high school, you’re old enough to have undertaken that responsibility, but young enough that you can bounce back if your experiments don’t go well. If you haven’t already, now’s when you should get a credit card and start a bank account, as College Info Geek points out. I know that when I was in college, I didn’t want one, because I thought it would foster bad habits. Really though, college is the perfect time to start forming good credit habits. Get a card, use it, get into the habit of paying it off. It’s an important life experience. While you’re at it, we’re going to have a special financial session next month to help you learn more about managing your money.
4. How are you going to get here?
I've talked before about the ups and downs of the different ways of getting to school, but figuring it out is important. If you’re driving, you have to make sure you can afford and maintain a car, cover the gas and insurance, and pay for parking. If you’re taking transit, you’ll need to figure out the best route, the schedules, and be able to cover fares, or a Metropass.
5. What are you going to do at school outside class?
Don’t just go to class, do your work and go home. It’s important for your career and personal development that you do a little bit more when you’re at school. As College Info Geek says, raw knowledge will only get you so far. What you want is something to develop your confidence and communication skills. Possible activities include volunteering to help with orientation or graduation, joining some kind of student club, or just exploring the activities the CCSAI has on your campus. You don’t have to do everything, but you can pick one thing to do to expand your real-world social network.
Above all else, though, take it easy. You don’t have to go into college knowing all the answers, and an important part of your time in school will be spent figuring them out. So, keep these tips in mind, and enjoy this important new phase in your life.
By Anthony Geremia