Many college students are back on campus soon (if not already) so I thought I would share a couple of things that college students need to get used to doing on their own. College life is difficult because there is so much added responsibility, but it will be worth it. Knowing that you need to get used to doing these things on your own ahead of time really helps with the anxiety you may feel about having to do them.
1. Drinking Water Every Day
Starting off with something easy here, folks.
First and foremost, you really need to get used to drinking water every day (or at least when you feel thirsty.)
Chances are unless you are in an athletic program, there isn't going to be anyone reminding you to stay hydrated all the time. So, you have to remind yourself to stay hydrated.
Why, because you will probably be walking and getting a lot more exercise in college than you did in high school. Unless you went to a HUGE high school, your college campus will probably be much bigger and a lot of college campuses are set up to be pedestrian friendly–which means they want you to walk around and not drive around. In order to get from Point A to Point B, you will be using a lot of body power (even if it doesn't feel like it.)
For me, staying hydrated was so important. I went to college in Arkansas and it was still VERY hot during the first month or longer of classes because we went back to school in mid-to-late August which is often one of the hottest months in the south. Staying hydrated is key to surviving southern summers (and falls, heck, most any season).
My Advice: Get a really cute and easy to keep up with water bottle. My favorite at the moment is the Glitter Bomb Water Bottle from Bando. It's $24, and it's not made of the glitter that explodes in phone cases (in case you were wondering about that lol.) It's beautiful and it reminds me to stay hydrated by being easy on the eyes ;-).
2. Talking To Customer Service On Their Own
Customer service. This is something that I dread, but you will probably need to chat with a customer service agent about something and you need to be able to learn how to keep your cool and get your desired result in the end.
Patience is key when it comes to talking to customer service. Getting hyped up for no reason will just make the experience worse than what it should be. Go in with a level head, but if you are getting sidelined, don't be afraid to start putting on the pressure little by little.
Don't go in at 100, go in smaller. Sometimes a bit of sugar goes a long way to getting what you want out of customer service.
For example, I recently accidentally overdrafted. I called my bank after I got a refund from the thing that charged me to see if they would be able to take off the overdraft fee. I nicely asked the worker to see if they could get it off, and low and behold they could. I was cordial during the entire conversation and I got what I wanted in the end.
Had I come to my banker with a nasty attitude right out of the gate, she may not have pulled the overdraft fee, even if she could. It's all about making a nice first impression first, and then if necessary you put on pressure. Many customer service representatives are nice and they want to serve you as best they can. They cannot do that if you are rude at the very beginning of the conversation.
My Advice: Take time to collect your thoughts and try not to take your anger out on the customer service representative. This is just their job, yo! You may also want to chat via email or chat box if talking on the phone is too nerve-wracking for you.
Related Reading: Adulting 101: How To Get The Refunds You Deserve From Businesses
3. Cooking Basic Meals
Cooking during your freshman year may not be as easy, but sometimes it is still mandatory.
The cafeteria on campus isn't open 24/7 and sometimes you get hungry late at night and you don't feel like going off campus.
In that time, you need to be able to cook some basic meals so that you won't starve or ruin your college's equipment.
Most colleges have a community kitchen in all the dorm halls where you can go to cook some basic meals if you have your own cooking equipment. You may also live in a dorm with kitchens in the rooms if you are lucky.
Learn how to make some basic meals like spaghetti, mac n' cheese, ramen noodles, Hamburger Helper, etc. These meals will help sustain you when late night cereal, sandwiches, and pop tarts just isn't cutting the mustard.
My Advice: Recipes are the bomb.com. I am not the best cook, but I can follow a recipe. So find a recipe using the ingredients that you have and I guarantee that it will make you a better cook. Also, have everyday kitchen supplies, because they will make the cooking process a breeze. Here is a great list from Apartment Therapy that has a list of 15 basic tools all kitchens need. Obviously, if you are living in the dorms you may have to skimp on a good bunch of these items if you don't have a kitchen of your own.
Related Reading: Three Ingredient Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos
4. Getting To Places On Time
You are in college, which means you are grown AF. You should not be arriving to places late.
I am one of those people who would rather be way early and I value my time a lot. I hate when people are late to events or events start late (which was always hard for me because a lot of events start late in college.)
Overall, you should be striving to get to places on time, because it's not always an option to arrive late. When it comes to things like class, sorority chapter meeting (if you decide to Go Greek!), group project meetings, etc. being late is not classy. Being late in general is not classy, even if it's not the things I just talked about.
Be on time (or even early) and you will stop a lot of stress in your life.
My Advice: Take into consideration all the things that could go wrong that could make you late and try to adjust your time properly. It's better to be way early than way late.
Related Reading: 7 Tips To Help You Be On Time For Once
5. Turning In & Remembering Assignments
Your parents will not hover over your shoulder to make sure that you turn things in on time. More than likely, they won't even know what your assignments are unless you tell them. For the most part, my parents only knew when I had large-scale assignments, not any of my day-to-day work.
You are responsible for remembering your assignments and getting them turned in. Don't expect that your college professor will say anything either. They did say something, when they gave you the multi-page document at the beginning of the year known as the syllabus. I don't remember a professor being that cruel and not reminding us of an assignment until I went to graduate school, but some professors in college may not remind you.
It is your responsibility to read the syllabus and be prepared for any assignments that come up there or throughout your time in class.
My Advice: Get a planner. I personally love the Erin Condren planner, but there are so many cool planners to choose from. If you cannot afford a planner, use a digital planner by using Google Calendar, Asana, or Trello.
6. Reading Contracts
Reading contracts is the absolute worst, but not reading them can really come to bite you in the butt in the end.
When you are signing contracts for things like apartments, insurance, loans, etc. you need to be aware of every line that they put into the contract. If you are not, it can all come to bite you in the end.
An example from my own life. When I lived in my apartment my sophomore year we had to get Renter's Insurance per our housing agreement. We didn't feel like shopping around so me and my roommates signed up for the insurance that the apartment was pushing.
A few days into our lease, people came into our apartment while we were sleeping and stole some stuff from our apartment. The most expensive thing they got was a case of DVDs from one of my roommates. Other than that it was small stuff like food and laundry detergent. Alas, it was still a scary experience to have someone in your apartment just feet from you while you were sleeping peacefully in your room. Thank goodness for dogs who sense that things were off and barked. Remember to lock your doors, y'all!
What does this have to do with reading contracts? Well, if we had read our insurance contract more heavily we would have realized that it was really only a liability insurance which means it would have protected the apartments stuff if it got stolen. The apartment was furnished so if they had stolen a chair the apartment bought, it would have paid for that. Also, even if the insurance did cover our stuff, the premiums were so high that it wouldn't have made sense to claim our kool-aid packets and case full of DVDs losses.
That left a sour taste in our mouths for the apartment and we were so ready to move out (but had to stay the entire year.) Reading contracts would have helped us realize that maybe we needed to shop around a bit to find some actually good insurance if we ever wanted to claim any of our own losses on the insurance.
My Advice: Take your time when reading ANY contract. Signing even the simplest contract when you aren't sure what it means can have devastating consequences. Bring up your questions, get solid answers to them, and then reach out for help if you aren't satisfied with the answers you get.
7. Acknowledging When It's Time To Ask For Help
Last, but certainly not least, understand that part of being an adult is acknowledging when you need help.
You have SO many wonderful people behind you: your family, friends, professors, and I are all here to help!
I definitely wish that I acknowledged this enough in college. I didn't want to bug my parents when I was hard up for cash or ask a professor as much when I didn't understand something. You are not in this alone and you need to acknowledge that to succeed.
My Advice: Know that you can't do everything by yourself. Don't be afraid to reach out to your family, friends, and even strangers. So often we have help right around the corner, if only we ask for it.
Being a young adult is difficult. There are some things that you should be able to do on your own, but sometimes it's not that simple. At the end of the day, you must be willing to acknowledge when it is time to ask for help so that you can succeed. The people around you want you to grow, not drown in adulthood. Reach out to those around you for help if you need it.