How to Survive College for the First Time

by Courtney LaRoque
(Billings, Montana, United States)

College never seems like an easy thing to do. There are so many choices, new people, and now you must fen for yourself and pay for everything without help from your parents. I have some great tips how to survive college financially, so you do not have to eat Ramen Noodles every single day.


First, budget your money very precisely. Make sure you put out a set amount for the month, as well as extra money for spending. Try not to go over this budget.

Second, buy groceries with your roommates. If you cook together, this will save a copious amount of money without having the temptation to go out to eat. Also, if your roommates can cook, that is always a plus!

Next, check your account balance daily. My first semester of college I ran out of money, and continued spending until I had over two hundred dollars in debt. This was not fun to explain to my parents. If you begin to run out, it is easier to tell your parents you have four dollars left instead of negative two hundred.

Fourth, apply for as many scholarships and grants as you can. They can save you from a lifetime of student debt, as well as complete relief when you are stressed out about finding a job while doing twenty hours of homework a week. There are millions of dollars in scholarships out there that are never claimed, so take advantage of those, and apply for as many as you can that are applicable to your life. Scholarships range from being a good student, to having red hair. The options are endless.

Last, remember what you are at college for—learning. Yes, it is easy to forget about that with all the new people and new parties surrounding you, but the better you do in college, the better you will do in life. Everyone would love to go out to eat every single day, then go out and buy new, fancy clothes the next day. But there are more people that would love to have the opportunity to go to college. Take advantage of this opportunity; embrace the college experience, while working as hard as you can for the outside world. These preparations you made earlier will forever benefit you in the future.

Read more College Financial Aid Tips from other students and parents who have been through process.


Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Courtney for sharing your tips on how to survive college for the first time. I like your idea to buy groceries and cook together. It can be cheaper and healthier, and it is so easy to download fun recipes from the internet. Good luck to you.


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Paying College Expenses

by Alexa Zolman
(Wilson, NC)

Have a plan and work your plan for paying College Expenses - Paying for college can seem almost overwhelming and scary at times. Filling out the financial aid counseling form and master promissory note made everything seem more real to me. I don’t want to graduate with a lot of student loan debt so I’m working to reduce the amount of student loans I will have to take out.

The best way to plan for college expenses is to break out all of your expected costs for Tuition, Room and Board, Fees, Books and other expenses. Once you have your estimated costs then list out all of your resources for paying these costs. For example, subtract out what scholarships you are expecting to get, how much your parents are contributing, how much you are contributing from savings, and how much in student loans you’re willing to take out.

If you are planning on paying college expenses or part of these expenses through savings figure out how much you currently have in savings and what additional amount you will be required to save. For example, how much will be added from a summer job? Do you have some items that you plan to sell that will be added to your college savings? You many consider cleaning out the garage and having a garage sale if it's okay with your parents. Update your plan on a regular basis to track how you are doing. Some figures may need to be adjusted as the additional funds start to come in.

Have a plan and continue to work your plan. Set reasonable expectations for yourself and don't be afraid to share your plan with others. You never know what additional advice they have or who may contribute to your efforts. If you exceed your goal then think of keeping that amount in an emergency fund or for savings next year. Work hard and be proud of your accomplishments!

Read more College Financial Aid Tips from other students and parents who have been through process.



Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Alexa for your tips on having a plan for paying college expenses. That is excellent advice. Best of luck to you.


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Don't Be A Slacker!

by Aubrey Hoover
(McPherson, Kansas USA)

Although I've only completed one semester of of college so far I already have a tid bit of advice for all you high schoolers out there. Do not, I repeat do not be a slacker!

I started my first year thinking that I wanted to major in Biology! So my advisor signed me up for three classes. College biology, college chemistry, and an elective that they said would be fairly easy. Minorities in America. When I started out I was doing pretty well but my homework in my elective class soon overtook my chemistry and biology class combined! I should have gotten out of that class but I thought I could handle it! I couldn't handle it. I ended up with an F in that class.

Onto to chemistry, as the the semester went on I realized that I didn't really like the classes involved in my major but instead of changing I kept on and I came out with a D!

College biology turned out to be the easiest for me and I actually liked it but to my surprise I came out with a C.

If you haven't caught on yet I did not end up with a good GPA. That caused me to be close to academic probation which affects my volleyball scholarship and it also caused be to lose my financial aid. Those two were the only reasons I was going to school here. So without those I am finding myself in a world of hurt! All because I slacked off and didn't follow my guy instincts.

So here is my advice all laid out. Make sure you take more than 12 hours your first semester. Chose a major you like and if you end up not liking it after a while seriously consider changing it! And last of all do your homework and if you need help, GET A TUTOR!

That's all I have for you but hopefully it opened your eyes a little bit more and will scare you straight! I honestly wish I would have had that advice!!
Read more College Financial Aid Tips from other students and parents who have been through process.



Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Aubrey for sharing your advice. It is hard to choose a major and the right classes. I also suggest you sign up for one extra class, then you can drop one if you find out you don't like the subject or teacher, and you still have enough units. A tutor is a great idea! Best of luck to you.





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