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26 Best Freshman College Hacks That Will Change Your Life

Are you ready for college?? I remember how exciting it was to receive my acceptance letter from my first choice and how many hours of research I put into being as ready as possible for that new chapter in my life. After all that time researching I thought I knew everything there is to know about college but oh my, how wrong I was.

After 3 years, I feel like I’m ready to share my 25 favorite freshman college hacks to make college easier! These college tips genuinely made my life a lot easier and helped me enjoy the experience on a different level.

These freshman college hacks will cover things like studying, money, and apartment/dorm, and I am sure you’ll love them.

Freshman College Hacks

  1. Find the Right Student Planner

Finding the best student planner and planning system will be life-changing. Planning and organizing your days and your tasks will help you stay on top of things, which is incredibly important in college. My recommendation? Erin Condren’s Student Planner and time-blocking. Allocate time windows for different activities and make sure you plan the next day when you are done with your day’s tasks.

  1. 5-Subject Notebook

Walking or commuting to campus will be a big part of your life, and you want to avoid developing back pain, right? Instead of buying a notebook per subject, buy 3 or 5-subject notebooks you can use for all your classes! This will greatly cut down the weight and clutter you’ll have to carry around all the time. 

  1. Use Endnote for easy bibliographies

One of my favorite freshman college hacks is Endnote. I remember making the bibliographies myself at the beginning of my degree and I HATED it so much, plus it’d take me ages. A classmate told me about endnote and now my bibliographies take me literally 3 minutes. 

  1. Rent your books out on Amazon

This might come as a surprise – at least it surprised me back in the day – but you can rent some books on amazon. When it comes to money-saving freshman college hacks, this is one of the best ones. If you don’t want to rent them, you can always buy them from other students that are done with them. The goal is to save money!

  1. Google Scholar

Another of my favorite college tips. Google Scholar is like the academic version of Google so you don’t have to weed through useless websites that are not worth your time. It also lets you create a list of citations which is extremely handy. I can’t recommend Google Scholar enough!

  1. Write Or Die 

I have raved about Write Or die since my freshman college year, and I’ll do it for the rest of my days! If you are suffering from writer’s block or can’t find the right words, Write Or Dye will scare you into getting it done. If you need some extra inspiration enable kamikaze mode! 

  1. Grammarly

If you don’t already use Grammarly, you are missing one of the absolute best college hacks ever. You can add Grammarly to Google Chrome or download the app to your computer, and it will tell you all sorts of writing problems. It will tell you if your sentences are too intricate, typos, how to say things more correctly, and pretty much all there is to writing excellence.

  1. Download Free Printables Online

There are tons of college bloggers – like myself or Celeste – that will give you really helpful freshman college tips and free printables to help you adapt to college and achieve all your goals. You will find tons of free content out there that will be very helpful!

  1. Tablet Instead of Paper

I haven’t done the change from traditional notebooks to electronics. But a tablet is something I’d seriously consider. A tablet would free up a lot of space in my backpack and it definitely weighs less. The reMarkable tablet feels like paper and it’s super light-weight. An amazing option for people going into their freshman college year!

  1. Scribzee and Oxford Notebooks

If you are not ready for a tablet but would still like to have your notes in digital format, Oxford has created an amazing line of notebooks that can turn your notes into pdf with the Scribzee app. You can then organize your notes into folders and have them with you wherever you go. I have been using it for a while and I love it! It saves me a ton of time. Definitely one of my favorite college hacks!

  1. Record Your Lectures

This is one of the most time-saving freshman college tips. Some lecturers speak VERY quickly and, in college, your PowerPoint won’t always have all the information. Your teachers will give a lot of important information when they speak and sometimes it’s hard to catch everything they say. In college, it’s very usual to record your classes to make sure you have all the information and then pass it on to your notes. Always ask your teachers first, but most of them won’t have a problem with it.

  1. Go to Office Hours (!)

Well, the lamest freshman college tip has arrived. I know you don’t want to spend your Friday afternoon or lunchtime with your teachers, but going to office hours is very important in college. Most teachers are always happy to discuss how you’re doing in their class, give you tips, and go over critical points from past lectures. When an assessment is approaching, make sure you book an appointment to show your lecturer how you’re doing and ask for pointers. This is the MOST IMPORTANT freshman college tip.

Money College Tips

  1. Use Cash-back Apps

Cash-back apps are a very easy and simple way to get some pocket money from purchases you’ve already made. These apps show you all your local cash-back deals and you can redeem any of your applicable purchases for anywhere between $0.25 and $3. It doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up quickly. My favorite one is LetyShops because they have some of the big brands that I usually buy from like eBay, Walmart, and many many others. 

  1. Budget Your Expenses

Budgeting is one of the most important money college hacks on this list. Knowing how much money you have every month and allocating it for different things will put your mind at ease, you’ll know that no matter what happens you’ll have money for rent and bills. I work with a $0 budget, meaning that every single dollar that comes into my account has a place, whether that is to save, fun money, or bills. 

  1. Split Your Bills with Paypal or Venmo

If you are anything like me, you’ll love this freshman college hack. Have you ever paid for something for your friends and, later on, you feel bad for asking for their part of the bill? Well, you’d be surprised how much money you’ll lose doing that. Apps like Paypal or Venmo save you from that awkward moment splitting the bill for you and reminding your friends until they pay. This is also perfect for roommates who split utility bills and rent. 

  1. Groupon and Retailmenot

Let me confess something, I love shopping. I mean, who doesn’t? Well, in college shopping becomes a real challenge, because you need every single penny you have. This is when one of my favorite freshman college hacks comes in. Never purchase anything online without first checking for coupons on sites like RetailMeNot and Groupon. These websites will show you the best deals and discounts, which will save you big money. 

  1. Dave Ramsey’s Envelope System

Dave Ramsey was my big freshman college year discovery in terms of money. I read his book and learned about the envelope system. The envelope system is a way to track exactly how much money you have in each budget category for the month by keeping your cash tucked away in envelopes. At the end of the month, you can see how much cash is left by taking a quick peek in your envelope. Once the money in an envelope is gone, you can’t spend any more money on that thing. It’s the best budgeting system ever!

  1. Sell Your Notes

If you make good quality notes of your lectures – and if you don’t you should start for this reason – you can sell them to people that don’t have the gift. I use Stuvia and it’s such an easy way to make some extra money! It won’t take you any extra time or effort because you are already doing it for yourself. One of the best freshman college hacks!

  1. Student Discounts

I didn’t use any student discounts in my freshman college year and I regret it so much! Apps like StudentBeans and UniDays have deals with brands that we all love – Apple, Asos, Nike, Ghd, etc. – and buying through them will save you a lot of money! I purchased a new Mac last year, and they gave me a pair of Airpods for FREE, thanks to a deal in UniDays!

Dorm/Apartment Freshman College Tips

  1. Order Groceries

This is one of the best freshman college tips for people who value their time. Grocery shopping takes a lot of time, time that you can be spending with your friends or working on your assignments, so get used to ordering groceries online! Tons of shops have student discounts on delivery fees and, if they don’t, you can always split it with your roommates. You can even buy fresh food on Amazon Prime Nowadays.

  1. Buy a Crockpot or Air Fryer

I didn’t know how to fry an egg when I moved in, and I didn’t have much time to learn how to cook and make substantial meals until I bought myself a crockpot. You can find hundreds of great crockpot recipes online, and most of them are just throwing things together and letting the machine do its thing. One of my favorite freshman college tips!

  1. Make good use of under-the-bed storage

College dorm rooms are usually tiny – mine was the size of a closet – so you’ll have to come up with creative ways of storing your belongings in the limited space you have. One of the things I came up with in freshman college year, was buying boxes and storing out-of-season clothes under the bed. Avoid taking too many suitcases because they take a lot of valuable space. Instead, try these storage bags.

  1. White Noise Machine

College dorms are usually very noisy places. You have people who love to party, people who love waking up early, and all the in-betweeners so you’ll need to develop a thick skin. One of the things that really helped me was buying a White Noise Machine and it’d have it on literally all day. It especially helps at night if you are not a deep sleeper. One of the things that helped me most in my freshman college year.

  1. Command Hooks/Stickers

Decorating your dorm room is one of the most exciting things to do when you move in, and I have tons of college hacks that will help you with this! You are not allowed to make holes in the wall, but you can use command hooks and stickers to hang pictures, fairy lights, and anything you want! This will really help you feel more at home and create a space you love. 

  1. Behind the door storage

One of the greatest college hacks, using your door as storage. With this behind-the-door organizer, you’ll be able to store shoes, toiletries, hair products, and lots of other things, freeing up space in your drawers for clothes and stationery! This is one of the best college tips I can give you if you are worried about storage!

  1. Noise-Canceling Headphones

As I said, college can be a very loud place. If you need a quiet space to concentrate, I’d recommend buying noise-canceling headphones. They help me study in coffee shops or the library, one of the best investments I made in college for sure. 

And that’s the tea! I really hope you liked these college tips for your freshman college year and I wish you all the luck in the world! College is a great chapter and I’m sure you’ll nail it!

26 Best Freshman College Hacks

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Laia Feliu

She’s a student and lifestyle blogger on By Laia Feliu

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10 Comments

  1. March 17, 2021 / 10:15 am

    These are some good tips! I would also recommend making sure you prep for class by pre-reading the chapter in the textbook or pre-downloading the notes/PowerPoint. It makes it a lot easier to take notes when you already know what to expect! If I ever go back to school again I’ll definitely check out Write or Die!

  2. March 17, 2021 / 11:37 am

    I remember when I was freshman in college and first heard of Grammarly. That really helped as I was an English major. Definitely budgeting also helped me save a lot of money and helped me keep my spending to a minimum. These are awesome tips.

  3. April 1, 2021 / 9:00 am

    I agree with all the tips! I am going to send this to my sister who will begin college in the fall!

  4. April 1, 2021 / 9:25 am

    Love this! So glad you mentioned student discounts… I definitely wish I knew more about them when I started college!

  5. April 1, 2021 / 10:18 am

    So much has changed since I was in college, and apparently for the good. These are EXCELLENT tips!

  6. April 3, 2021 / 11:36 pm

    Using cash-back apps are a great idea for students! That’s how I earned extra money when I was a student back then =)

  7. June 5, 2021 / 5:26 am

    I loved this post! I too wished I knew so many things before starting university! It was uni for me. Great hacks😊

  8. July 18, 2021 / 1:30 pm

    Great tips! I can see how these would make it a lot easier! I wish I had thought to record some of the lectures from my favorite professors.

  9. July 18, 2021 / 3:17 pm

    I agree with all of these except using the tablet for notes! Being old-school and using a notebook was the best way for me. If I used my laptop or anything else then I wouldn’t retain any information, so if you get distracted you need to use paper!

  10. July 18, 2021 / 4:33 pm

    These are so informative! I wish I had known a lot of these before starting college. This blog as a whole covers so many helpful topics, thanks!

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