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Best 15 Tips To Make the Most of College [2023]

04.18.2023 • 5 min read

Daisy Hill


Learn student success tips for college. Explore your potential, get study tips, and learn how to succeed in college as a first year student.

In This Article

  1. Study Tips for College Students

  2. How To Succeed in College Socially

  3. Health and Safety Tips for Going to College

  4. College Student Success Tips

  5. Explore Your Potential

Congratulations, you’re going to college! You’re probably feeling all the emotions: excitement, nervousness, apprehension, joy.

The college experience is so different from high school—but that’s a good thing. You have more independence, autonomy, and knowledge at your fingertips. You’ll discover new friends and communities, who you are, and where you belong.

You’re shaping a new future—your own. Naturally, you want to know the best tips to help you succeed at college.

No matter your age or season of life, it can be daunting to know how to make the most out of this wonderful opportunity. In this article, we’ve gathered a few essential tips to help you on your way. Whether you’re attending on campus, learning virtually, or returning to school as an adult, these are the best tips for college freshmen.

Study Tips for College Students

1. Make School Your First Priority

Your education should be your main focus. It’s why you’re at college!

Participate and engage in all your college classes. Study hard for quizzes and exams, don’t do things last-minute, and aspire for good grades.

Connect with the material you’re studying by doing the reading and showing up for class. Choose classes that interest you. But don’t forget to fulfill all your requirements.

Bonus Tip: See electives and independent research assignments as opportunities to expand your mind. You might find a new passion.

2. Know ‌Your Professors and Academic Advisors

They’re one of your greatest resources. Ask them if you have questions or concerns about the syllabus or essay due dates. Go the extra mile to connect with them. Meet with them during office hours, and take advantage of their advice if they offer it. You’ll be glad you did—and your grades will likely show an improvement too!

3. Get Organized

In college, you’ll need good time management skills. Start early to determine what works for you and establish a good system. Some helpful tasks are:

  • Creating to-do lists

  • Prioritizing deadlines

  • Finding the best study time and location

  • Backing up your saved files on a drive

4. Keep Positive

See learning challenges as opportunities. Seek help if you fall behind or find yourself with more questions than answers.

There will always be people to help you be successful in college—whether that’s your academic advisor, favorite professor, or your friends and family.

Reach out if you need it.

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How To Succeed in College Socially

1. Get Social

College friends can be friends for life. Whether you are on campus or online, get to know peers in your discussions. They can help you when you’re stuck on an assignment and inspire you when you’re planning your future career.

College is not meant to be a solo activity. Your friends should be the people you have the most fun with and who will be there every step of the way from college to beyond graduation.

2. Get Involved in Student Events

Many unique clubs and opportunities are in the college experience, so take advantage! Try new activities, and meet other college students with an open mind. You might not like everyone you meet, but you can learn a lot from other perspectives—even if you don’t realize it at the time.

If you are an online or older college student, there are plenty of virtual groups, professional organizations, and national fraternity or sorority organizations that can expand your social network. Seek out students who challenge you and help you grow into the person you’re supposed to be. Or find an interest group ‌where you can be yourself.

3. Stay Connected

If you’re attending campus in person, your family might not be nearby, but they will be there for you. Call them!

There are so many ways to stay in touch—Zoom, What’s App, iMessage, FaceTime. Whatever works for you, just make sure you set aside the time to talk to them. Share your stories, hear their news, and be sure to invite them to campus for family days.

Even if you’re living at home and taking online classes, set aside time to connect with family and friends. Build social events into your weekend schedule. Reward yourself with study breaks or local outings after completing assignments.

4. Study Abroad

It’s not just about having fun and enjoying food in another country. There are so many opportunities to expand your perspective and learn about yourself when you spend time in another country. It can be a great way to enhance your degree and your resume. Go global with your networks and take advantage of all study abroad programs!

Health and Safety Tips for Going to College

1. Exercise and Stay Healthy

Health at college is important. From physical health to mental health, from the things you eat and drink to the activities you do—make sure you take care of yourself.

You’ll need your body and your mind to get through college, so take care of them! Drink more water, stay active, and get the sleep you need to do your best work.

2. Be Safe

One night of foolish choices can derail your college experience. Be smart and use common sense: know what and how much you’re drinking, don’t walk home alone, keep your personal items close by, don’t believe everything you read on social media, and say no whenever you need to. Take us seriously on this one.

College Student Success Tips

1. Get Control of Your Finances

Even if your parents are paying for college, make sure you know how to:

These money management skills will help you far beyond college and into your working life.

2. Plan Ahead for Your Career

  • Create a resume

  • Develop your portfolio

  • Get work experience

  • Use career services

  • Show up to career fairs to create meaningful networks

  • Talk to your academic advisor about your future

Set career goals, both long-term and short-term, achievable and challenging (dream big!), and land somewhere in the middle.

Use the time you’re not in class to get an ‌internship or research project, get a part-time job over the summer, or volunteer over winter break. Your future self will thank you.

3. Learn About Yourself

As you progress through college, develop an awareness of your skills, strengths, weaknesses, passions, values, and habits. Not only will this help you assess your own learning style, but also you’ll grow more confident about your specific skill set.

This introspection is perfect when you’re applying for jobs and conducting interviews. The more you know about yourself and what you can offer, the more impressive you’ll be.

4. Use Campus Resources

If you’re on campus, you’ll find a never-ending schedule of student events, guest lecturers, and field tips that will enhance your education. Be sure to check out all the resources in the Student Center, from financial aid and student grants to resume-writing workshops, so you can get the most out of your college experience.

If you’re an online student, don’t overlook all the virtual resources from your school. There may be online meet-and-greet events, student socials, and networking opportunities.

5. Set College Goals

Sure, career goals are crucial. But your goals for your college experience also deserve time and attention. Focus on why you’re doing this and what you want to accomplish before graduation.

Then break those long-term goals into short-term plans. Want to earn a specific degree? Great, break down the required classes and credit hours each year, so you can arrange your schedule around them. Do you need experience as a leader? Plan to join a club, and explore what the path to leadership looks like there. If your goal is an internship, work on networking now. The more specific your plans, the more likely you are to achieve your college goals.

Explore Your Potential

College is the beginning of your future, whether you’re going back to school in your 30's or right out of high school. It isn’t high school, and it isn’t real life. It’s a bubble of knowledge and exploration; a wonderful experience full of potential and opportunity.

College is the place you’ll explore your passions, develop your skills, and find your place in the world.

Your college career will both open and focus your mind: you’ll discover things you didn’t even know you were capable of, viewpoints you’d never considered before, and people who will stick with you throughout your life.

We know you’ve heard that college life is the best life, and it really can be, if you let it. Jump in and experience it for yourself.

About the Author

Bob Patterson is a former Director of Admissions at Stanford University, UNC Chapel Hill, and UC Berkeley; Daisy Hill is the co-author of Uni in the USA…and beyond published by the Good Schools Guide 2019. Together, they have established MyGuidED, a new educational tool for students looking to apply to university (launching 2023).

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