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  • You’re no longer living at home, which means you’ll have to learn a new set of skills at college, from cooking to laundry.
  • College can be expensive. Set yourself up for financial success by setting a budget and sticking to it.
  • There are lots of ways to make new friends in college, like joining clubs and leaving your door open to make your room inviting to visitors.

Despite finally having the freedom you've always wanted, college is often a big adjustment for first-time students—whether you admit it or not. To help, we've put together some college survival tips to cover the basics so you can ease into your first year away from home and enjoy life on campus.

1. Learn the cooking basics

A student can’t live on pasta alone. Upgrade your cooking skills and learn to sauté, grill, microwave, and bake. Not sure where to begin? Start with a staple, like ramen, and give it an upgrade by adding extras like an egg, sauteed veggies, herbs, and even peanut butter. Reach out to family and friends for easy recipes or follow food accounts on social media for inspiration.

2. Plan your meals

Having a weekly meal plan and grocery list can save you money and keep you from making impulsive and unhealthy food purchases. Make big batches for multiple days of meals and try not to shop when you’re hungry, rushed, or tired.

3. Keep it clean

Did you know that a clean space can help with productivity? Make cleaning a breeze by tidying up as you go. Before bed, wash the dishes and wipe down the counters. Make your bed as soon as you get up so you’ll have an inviting space to welcome you as soon as you get home. Also, clean the bathroom mirrors just after a shower, when it’s foggy. This will save you on glass cleaner!

4. Get schooled on laundry

There is a method to doing laundry. First up, divide your clothes by color. Some clothes might have special instructions, like hand washing or air drying, so check the tag before throwing them in the wash. Wash colors and delicates in cold water and lighter colors in warm water. Be sure to budget enough time for your washing (about 90 minutes) and drying (40-50 minutes). If an item has a stain, pretreat it with remover before you load it in the wash.

5. Fold your clothes

Fold and put away your clothes immediately after drying to avoid wrinkles and keep your room tidy.

6. Create a budget

According to the College Board®, a moderate 12-month student budget for 2022–23 runs just upward of about $30,000. This sum includes housing, transportation, and miscellaneous items—like pizza parties with your roommates. Setting a budget and sticking to it will help you avoid financial surprises, and graduate college debt-free.

7. Keep expenses low

Look for ways to keep your expenses down, such as keeping an eye out for student discounts at restaurants and retail stores and using public transportation. Getting a part-time job will also help keep your debt to a minimum.

8. Be social

Making new friends at college can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. A few simple tricks can make it easy to meet new people, such as leaving your door open, so others feel free to drop in, taking part in ice-breaking activities the first week, joining study groups, and attending any campus events that interest you.

9. Be prepared

College will be less challenging if you’re organized, and prepare a few things beforehand. For example, chart a course from your house or dorm room to class before your first day, so you know in advance how long it will take you to get there.

10. Set goals

College is fun, but also full of distractions. To make sure you stay on track with your course work, set goals at the start of the semester, and track them throughout the year so you stay focused.

College Board® is a trademark registered by the College Board, which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse, this site.

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