Tips for Surviving College

College is an exciting prospect for most young folks, but the fact remains that it’s far removed from the usual high school experience. In college, you’ll find yourself taking on much larger challenges that will have a big impact on your future and the rest of your life. Your success and comfort level in high school might have made you confident up until now, but college has a way of waking you up to the realities of life. 

These four (sometimes five) years ahead of you will be pivotal for your life, not just in the matter of your career but also in yourself. You’ll be exposed to radical new concepts, meet a much more diverse group of people and get a semblance of adult life. You’ll have the freedom to make your own choices, but it comes a great deal of responsibility with them. 

To start with, the degree you want to pursue in college will have a big impact on your career. This is why you must make a good choice, but also essential that you don’t rush into anything. It can take a while to figure out the best degree for you, so don’t be afraid to make some changes along the way. You might want to prepare yourself beforehand for this decision and other responsibilities. Knowing what to expect and having a game plan can greatly help reduce stress and succeed in college life. 

So, how are you going to prepare for college? How will you choose your courses, your friends, and your experiences? Here are some tips and guidelines on how to make your college experience smoother and less frightening: 

1. Treat College like Your Dream Job 

Happy asian man student with backpack
Happy asian man student with backpack using laptop computer while sitting outdoors

It is important that every day at college feels exciting and as productive as possible. Sure, you can have a few lazy hours here and there, but try not to have a whole wasted day. This is the time when you have some adult responsibilities, but you also have the flexibility to enjoy yourself, make new friends that might last a lifetime, and make loads of memories.  

Enjoying your time at college also includes studying what you take an interest in, along with joining extracurricular activities that fascinate you. If you love what you’re doing, you’re less likely to get tired and stressed out while doing it. This way, you’ll have a ready motivation to learn more about your field and learn new things about it every single day. 

Katherine Hepburn once said, “If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.” It makes a lot of sense to be pleased with what you are doing, so don’t think much about money or if this course you take will be in demand in the future. All those things will follow in due course. While it is important to make a career, you don’t want to fall into the trap of your career, making you miserable. 

Once you start thinking of college as more of a dream job and less of four struggling years, you’ll be in a much better place to handle it all. Remember to enjoy yourself along the way, as these days are precious and won’t come back!

2. Ask For Advice

Opinions and advice matter when making your college-related decisions, especially if the other person has more experience in college or life in general. Open up to the people around you; they might sometimes actually help in deciding certain matters—your friends, your parents, or your teachers. These people have been around you, and they see your competence that might help analyze which path to choose. 

There might be several instances where you have more than one interest. For instance, you might love both art and math, but their courses are in vastly different departments. Don’t be afraid of talking to your parents, your high school teachers, friends, family members, or even the college faculty members. Many of these individuals might have the potential to guide you towards the right choice or even a choice without compromise. You might be surprised at what strings some people could pull to get you a schedule that fits your dreams!

3. Research the School

Research the School
Something isn’t right. Team of young business people works on their project at night time in the office.

Of course, you could also manage college much better if you research the place where you’re planning to go before finalizing anything. Every educational institute is different, so hop online and read reviews, talk to alumni, and see what a certain college has to offer in detail. 

Most universities excel in one or two programs. For instance, there are some universities where engineering courses are better than any other place. Others have a lot to offer when it comes to medical courses. This is why double-checking the school you are planning to go to is a must. Again, you might want to ask someone you trust about the best university or college to attend to pursue your interests. If nothing else, ask online on public platforms. You might get some very insightful answers that can make your decision a breeze!

Make a list of potential universities, check the programs they offer, and also consider checking the achievements and credentials of each program they have. For an engineering course, you might want to check the rate of board passers. If they have a good score here, it’s a point in their favor. You might also want to look for scholarships; several universities could have excellent scholarship programs that will make it easier for you to live on a student income. 

4. No Rushing Things, But No Procrastinating Either

This is one of the most common mistakes of students entering college; they thought they’ve got plenty of time to decide and complete the requirements, so they chill. When the last date looms up, they end up rushing the decision and the requirements. This could be quite damaging, as choosing a program in haste could lead to some very wrong decisions. 

5. Use Your Resources Wisely

Use Your Resources Wisely
Group of young architects working on business meeting

There are now several resources you can turn to while choosing colleges or making any decisions within your college life. Using the internet is just one big step; you should be aware of online forums, discussion boards, and social media platforms where you can bring your problems and have them solved to some extent. 

Many universities and colleges also have writing workshops, counseling sessions, and open-door policies for troubled students. Look around you and take help where you need it. This isn’t a time to hesitate or be shy; a lot of people are willing to help you out, so go forth and be enlightened!

6. Taking Risks

Going to college is a risk in itself. You’re probably living away from home for the first time in your life, perhaps working a part-time job to support yourself, taking student loans, and are generally in an unfamiliar, fast-paced environment. 

College is nothing if not a series of risks in itself. There will be a lot of struggles, high stress, and breakdowns. However, know that it will all be worth it in the end. Just be firm with your decisions, stand with them, face the consequences, and know that it’s okay to fail. The main thing to do is get up and move, do not get stuck–that is the only rule. 

7. Stay Organized and Schedule Breaks

Woman with bicycle reading book in park
Portrait of a smiling young woman with bicycle reading book in the park

College isn’t a phase of life that you can rush through with an “I will just improvise” attitude. Assignments and homework pile up very quickly if you don’t have an organized way to handle it with a scheduled calendar when to work on what. Keeping binders, different colored files, and rough notebooks for every class can help keep track of what’s what. Setting reminders that you have an assignment is also helps in remembering to do an important assignment. 

Now, the above paragraph might seem very intimidating to some people. So here comes the fun part, don’t just work, work and work. Taking breaks, even when studying after 30 minutes of work, reduces stress and helps productivity. It is proven that studying 30 minutes and taking a 5-minute break to do something fun and something you like and repeating it 6 times is better than studying 4 hours straight.

8. If you are In a New City, Explore it!

When students go to prestigious colleges in big cities that they don’t originate from, they tend to just curl up in the dorm room and study for the next big exam. College is not just about all study; exposure is a big part of the development of a person’s personality. Going out with friends to explore the city and see the things your new home for the next 2 years has to offer is never a bad idea. 

The new city does not need to be an alien place; with enough experiences and friends around you, any place on earth can be your home.


Even with all the guidelines above, we know that college can be a highly stressful time for many students. You might find yourself slipping some days and unable to function for some time. If this sounds like a common occurrence, don’t be afraid to get some help with reducing your stress. Along with taking to a professional, you might want to read up on some unusual ways to reduce stress.