college students

From A to Z: Everything You Need to Know For a Successful Freshman Year

From A to Z: Everything You Need to Know for a Successful Freshman YearIt’s hard to believe that just six years ago, I was packing up my childhood bedroom and moving to Orlando for college. At times, I still picture myself as that awkward 18-year-old girl who was so excited to take those first few steps toward adulthood. In many ways, mine was the traditional college experience: four years of changing majors, making friends, hosting theme parties, interning around town, cramming for finals, dating the wrong guys and joining more clubs than a sane person should. My undergraduate years still hold some of my favorite memories, and taught me more about myself than I ever cared to know.

For many of you, those first few days of freshman year are just around the corner, and you’re probably having a lot of mixed feelings. Whether you’re nervous, enthusiastic or somewhere in between, this blog will guide you through some of the most important aspects of your college experience, from A to Z.

A – Appearance
As superficial as it may sound, it’s important to put an effort into your appearance! Your university’s dress code may technically allow you to roll into your lecture hall in pajamas… but that doesn’t mean you should. The way you dress plays a big role in the first impression you give off in class, among new friends and in front of professors and potential employers.

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From A to Z: Everything You Need to Know for a Successful Freshman YearB – Books
Unless your professor requires some special edition that isn’t offered elsewhere, don’t buy your books at the school bookstore. Rent them through third-party vendors, visit local used bookstores or buy your books online. It will save you a ton of money in the long run!

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C – Choosing a Major
Don’t worry if you don’t have it figured out right now. Take some time to enjoy your general education classes and to take an introductory course that interests you. For more tips on how to choose the right major for you, click here.

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D – Dorm Life
This may be your first time sharing a bedroom or bathroom with someone, so make sure you talk to your new roommate(s) about your expectations and responsibilities. A new dorm room is also the perfect excuse to decorate, so have fun personalizing your new home!

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E – Extra Credit
If your professor offers extra credit, always do it. You might not think you need it, but when your grade is dangling at an 89 at the end of the semester and you need that extra point, you’ll thank yourself.

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From A to Z: Everything You Need to Know for a Successful Freshman YearF – Friends
Open yourself up to the possibility, and you might meet your best friend in college. Get involved, talk to people in your classes and in the dorms, say yes to social outings and don’t be afraid to step out of your bubble.

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G – Greek Life
Rushing a fraternity or a sorority can be a great way to make an overwhelmingly big university a whole lot smaller. If the idea of Greek sounds interesting, talk to older friends who have gone through the process and decide if it’s right for you!

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H – Health
Above all, you must prioritize your health. Avoid the typical Freshman 15 weight gain with these helpful pointers, and remember to take care of yourself when illness strikes. Utilize the gym, health center, counseling facilities and other campus resources to maintain your physical and mental health. Because college can be a stressful time for many, staying healthy and happy is often at the bottom of our lists.

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I – Independence
If you are living in a dorm room or away from home, college is a great opportunity to test out your newfound independence. It will be fun to make more of your own decisions and to not have a curfew, but it will also teach you the importance of finding a balance.

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From A to Z: Everything You Need to Know for a Successful Freshman YearJ – Joining Clubs
Joining clubs on campus will allow you to meet likeminded people, have a good time and possibly even develop yourself professionally. It’s a great way to connect with your university and find leadership opportunities early on. Find organizations that interest you and attend the info sessions – you have nothing to lose!

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K – Kindness
This should go without saying, but remember to treat others with kindness. You’ll meet people whose lifestyles, beliefs and upbringings are radically different from yours, so it is important to be openminded and still respect others regardless of your differences.

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L – Learning For Learning’s Sake
You’ll get so wrapped up in prerequisites and major classes that you might forget that college is, among other things, a place to learn. Take a few elective classes in areas that interest you regardless of what requirements they fulfill. Enjoy the act of learning.

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M – Mentors
Find an older student, a community member or a professor who inspires you, and turn to that person as a mentor. This is a great way to start building your network, and you’ll also have someone to ask for advice on classes, internships and more. If you don’t know where to start, see if your school offers any organized mentorship programs to pair you with someone!

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From A to Z: Everything You Need to Know for a Successful Freshman YearN – Networking
I cannot stress the importance of networking enough! It may sound terrifying, but it doesn’t have to be. Get to know people every chance you get. You never know who will be able to help you out in the future — or whom you’ll be able to help. Networking helped me land a job right out of college! Read more about my experience here.

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O – Office Hours
Your professors are required to hold office hours, so attend them. They can be a great resource when the class material just isn’t clicking, and it’s always an added bonus for the professor to put a face to your name.

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P – Partying
Enjoy having a social life, but learn to do so responsibly. Remember why you came to college in the first place.

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Q – Quiet Space
Find your quiet space on campus for when you need to study or simply get away. Whether it’s the top floor of the library or a secluded corner of a campus garden, find that quiet space and use it when you need it.

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From A to Z: Everything You Need to Know for a Successful Freshman YearR – Romance
Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who meets your soulmate on the quad that first week of school, you’ll probably have your share of good and bad relationships in college, and that’s okayFrom every “failed” relationship, you’ll learn something – or at the very least, you’ll have a good story to tell. (My exes had better beware of my memoir! :) ) Enjoy the ride.

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S – School Spirit
Soak it up! Wear your university colors, attend sporting events and be proud of the institution you attend. Don’t pretend you’re “too cool” for it. The time will eventually pass and you’ll wish you’d enjoyed yourself more.

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T – Time Management
Find an organizational style that fits you, and use it. Having strong time management skills will allow you to balance classwork, extracurriculars, work and a social life. The more you hone these skills now, the better prepared you will be for the future!

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U – Unique Opportunities
In college, the world is your oyster. If an opportunity sounds too good to pass up, take it! Study abroad for a semester. Volunteer in another city for an alternative spring break. Run for student government. Take advantage of these opportunities while you’re still in school, as they might never come back around once you graduate.

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V – Values
Be true to yourself. Know what is important to you, and keep that close to your heart as you make decisions in college. Don’t let others push you into something that makes you uncomfortable or puts you in danger.

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From A to Z: Everything You Need to Know for a Successful Freshman YearW – Wallet
Learn how to budget and take care of your finances. Learn to live within your means. Your money habits now will shape the way you spend and save long after you graduate.

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X – eXams
The dreaded exams will pop up every semester at least once, so it’s important to prepare for them. For more on how to survive your final exams, check out my article on Career Camel.

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Y – You Time
Take time for yourself. College can be a very social environment, and I encourage you to take advantage of that, but it’s always good to spend some time alone without worrying about others. “Treat yo self” to a night in every now and then, or focus on putting together that DIY Pinterest project you’ve had your eye on. Making time for yourself will help you maintain your sanity when life gets stressful.

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Z – Zero Tolerance
Love yourself enough not to tolerate negative treatment. Have zero tolerance for the people or situations that make you feel lesser than. If a friendship or relationship is making you miserable, leave. If you dread being part of a certain organization, quit. Life is too short to waste on people who treat you like crap.

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Best of luck to all of those starting college this fall! Readers, what are your tips for incoming freshmen?

Link Love Wednesday: Happy Graduation!

Happy Wednesday, readers! I can’t believe how quickly this year is flying by. For many of you, it’s graduation season – in other words, time to bedazzle those graduation caps and change your profile picture to something nostalgic. Monday marked the two-year anniversary of my own college graduation, and while I miss that time of my life so dearly, some of it has begun to feel like a distant memory. My advice to grads: Enjoy every moment. Spend time with your friends while everyone is still in the same place. Take way too many pictures. And if you get bored, feel free to stop over here for some Link Love! :)

 What are your favorite links from the week? Share them in the comments section below!

Make the Most Out of Your University’s Career Centre

logotransparentHappy Tuesday, all! Hope you are having a great start to your week.

For many of you, the first week of spring semester is here! As you master your new schedule and figure out which new clubs to join, don’t forget one other important university department: the career center. This office can help you choose a major, create a resume/cover letter/CV, apply for jobs and even make connections with important folks in your industry of choice!

Want to know more about how to make the most of your university’s career center? Check out my latest guest blog for the London-based Career Camel and drop a comment to say hello! Even alumni can benefit from this awesome resource, and my article will give you a few pointers for getting started.

What are you waiting for? :)

How to Write an Awesome Cover Letter

logotransparentGood morning, sunshines! I hope everyone is having a wonderful week and planning for a beautiful weekend. :)

My latest guest article for Career Camel is up and I’d love for you to read it! This time, I share my strategies for writing the perfect cover letter. Easy as one, two, three!

Whether you’re in the job application process or just looking to learn, check out my post and comment to let me know what you think!

Link Love Wednesday: Boy Bands, The Sorcerer’s Stone and Romantic Comedies

harrypotterI hope this week’s Link Love finds you well! Can you believe how quickly the summer is flying by? When I was in high school, I always felt a sense of dread around mid-July, when the new school year seemed to be looming all too closely. Nowadays, I work year-round, but I will never forget the way I felt as I watched the summer slip away. For those of you who have a break from school or work this summer, hopefully you are finding ways to make the most of your days off – away from the computer!

Of course, when you do stop to check Facebook and your favorite blogs (wink, wink), be sure to enjoy some of our latest Link Love!

How are you spending your summer? Any great links you’ve come across this week? Feel free to share in the comments section below!

Job Hunt Series at Talent Cupboard

TalentCupboardHi there, readers!

In place of this week’s Link Love, I would like to share my latest guest post for Talent Cupboard, a London-based company for upcoming and recent grads that allows you to create your own digital CV. I was honored to contribute to their Job Hunt series and share my own experiences and advice for finding the right job after graduation. You can check it out here!

Have a wonderful day and a safe Independence Day weekend! :)

Link Love Thursday: Don’t Call Me “Bae”

Batman-Dick-GraysonHope everyone is having a fantastic week! Summer officially begins on Saturday, so I’m excited to log some more days by the pool on the rare occurrence that it’s not raining in Florida. How are you spending your summer? You can start with a peek at this week’s Link Love, and post your own favorite findings in the comments section below!

What are some of your favorite articles from the last few weeks?

Link Love Wednesday: Tina Belcher Edition

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Happy Hump Day! The weekend may seem far away, but keep your chin up: it’s a long weekend. :) In the meantime, enjoy this batch of Link Love and hold on tight. Friday will be here before you know it!

The Weekend Five: Profile Pictures That Every Guy Has Posted

funny-pictures-selfie-dog-no-filter-makeupA few months back, in honor of my social media addiction, I wrote a little piece about the five profile pictures that every girl has posted, at one point or another, on Facebook. Because I believe in equal opportunity for the genders, I felt that it was high time to poke fun at the males this week! Guys, we know you are all special and unique, but much like the ladies, you too are guilty of falling into predictable social media patterns. :)

This week, we’ll explore five of the most popular types of Facebook profile pictures that most of the guys on your friend list have uploaded.

The Weekend Five: Profile Pictures That Every Guy Has Posted

1. Group Photo With All Friends Still Intact.
Unlike the ladies, who tend to crop all of their friends out of group photos, guys are likely to post these pictures to their page as they were taken, no edits. This can prove especially confusing on mobile and online dating profiles, as visitors to those pages may wonder which guy in the picture is actually the man in question, but for Facebook, it makes sense:  guys can assume that their social media contacts will be able to distinguish which person is them!

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2. The Goofy Picture.
Again, unlike many of the young women who use social media, guys aren’t afraid to post a less-than-perfect picture of themselves that shows their sense of humor. This picture is posted without regard for angles or any other artistic properties, and is meant to make you laugh.

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meet-someone-profile-pictures-century-flirting-ecards-someecards3. The Slightly Dressier, More Grown Up Picture.
There’s always one picture of the guy in a suit, at a fancy dinner, in graduation garb or (in true throwback style) on his prom night.

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4. The Significant Other.
From my observations, guys post fewer of these pictures than girls do, but these pictures do pop up from time to time so that the subjects can prove that they are not #foreveralone.

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5. The Picture That Isn’t Him.
Usually, these are memes that fit his sense of humor, but they can also include images related to his favorite sports team or stills from a sci-fi movie or video game that he loves. For many girls, this is a waste of prime real estate, but for the majority of guys, it isn’t that big of a deal. Personally, I have to take a selfie to make up for this every time I see one of these, but that’s just me. :) (Kidding, by the way!)

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Depending on the guy, you may find other types of profile pictures: action shots playing sports, flexing photos at the gym, artsy pictures with crazy Instagram filters… the list goes on. What are your favorite categories?

The Freshman 15: Advice From Readers

Each month, I write The Freshman 15, my list of fifteen tips for college freshmen based on various themes, such as homesickness, time management skills, dating and dorm room must-haves. About to begin my third year of college, I have definitely learned a lot from my experiences and feel that I have some pointers for incoming freshmen, but I still have plenty to learn from the people around me. This month, fifteen other college students and college graduates have contributed their own advice with us about navigating through university life, and I am excited to share the tips they sent me with you. :) Enjoy!

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The Freshman 15: Advice From Readers

1. Get involved in Greek life.
Joining a sorority does three things, in stages: as a freshmen, it give you an instant social network outside of your dorm floor; as an undergrad, it gives you leadership opportunities for your resume and something extracurricular-related to talk about at internship interviews; and as a college graduate, it gives you friends for life. (It will also in general improve your choreographed dancing skills and guarantee you never eat lunch alone). I recommend Greek Life to almost every incoming freshman I know.
– Molly, Northeastern University, Smart Pretty & Awkward 

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2. Know your resources.
I think college students should take advantage of the resources they have on campus, especially the mental health/counseling department. As a student away from home, you’re very prone to feelings of loneliness, worthlessness, etc. It’s good to talk to someone about it, and it’s even better to recognize that you’re not alone. :)
– Kevina, University of Florida, Kevina-Lee.Net

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 3. Find your perfect balance.
My first semester I holed up in my room most the time and studied a ton, and I got great grades. My second semester, I went out and partied, worked on some extracurricular clubs and events, dated, and had a ton of fun. My grades, however, suffered. It takes a while to learn how to balance having fun and enjoying your year with making decent grades, however, it is much more rewarding to try. One of the things my dad told me he regretted about his college experience is that he stayed in his room all the time, worked 3 jobs, and didn’t go out and meet people. It’s taking me some time to learn the balance, but I’m definitely enjoying it more.
– Carson, University of Central Florida, the sky and trees all blur

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4. Follow the First Five Rule.
For every class especially giant lectures halls, sit within the first five rows. This enables you to pay attention and not text or go on facebook. You also may learn valuable information before class when other students are talking to the professor that may help clarify something or help you with the next test. Sitting in the first five rows also lets the professor see your face more which in return may help your grade since he/she realizes you make the effort to come to class all the time and pay attention! (If a classroom only has five rows… then sit in the first three rows.)
– Heather, Broward College

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5. Work on your group project etiquette.
Participate in your group projects. Do more than you have to. Go above and beyond. People always remember slackers, and one day, you may see these slackers again looking for a job where YOU work. You will gladly tell your boss that this person was a slacker. Just because you’re in the “real world now” doesn’t mean your work ethic has changed. Treat the classes in your major like your job and your classmates like future coworkers because one day, they might be.
– Karina, University of Central Florida, Karina Creative

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6. Find a unique way to get involved.
Get involved in interests/hobbies outside your major. It helps you stay sane when you get stressed/burnt out and continue to meet new people, because you end up seeing the exact same people in class when you hit junior/senior year.
– Courtney, Boston area, Coffee and Debussy

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7. Look for a university job.
If you plan on applying for a job, look for one on campus. They will be more flexible with your schedule.
– Jessie, University of Central Florida 

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8. Know your strengths and trust in them.
Don’t let anyone discourage you from taking a class. Just because someone else thinks it’s hard doesn’t mean you can’t step up to the challenge. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you can’t be the best (such as advisors, friends or anyone who might just be jealous of you).
– Alexandra, University of South Florida

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9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Professors are more than willing and eager to help students who are either struggling or looking for reassurance. If you feel like you could use some extra guidance battling homesickness, exploring majors, picking classes, or healing a sore throat, all schools offer help through counseling enters, career services, advisors, and health centers! Take advantage of the resources your school has to offer and don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance! These offices are there for a reason!
– Beth, University of Central Florida, The Utterings and Mutterings of a B.A.G. Lady

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10. Keep your place clean.
Clean the place at least once a week. If you don’t, before you know it, it will look like a hellhole. It’s harder to clean a hellhole than just cleaning once or twice a week. Besides, hellholes are hell to live in. :)
– Emily, Palm Beach State College 

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11. Confidence is everything.
Before you go to any smaller class for the first week or so, be prepared to say something about yourself. And when you get called on, act like the most confident person in the room at that moment. People are attracted to it and you make instant friends– or get a relationship out of it! ;)
– Kate, University of Central Florida, Concrete Canyons

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12.  To get the meal plan or not get the meal plan?
I say don’t get the meal plan. Understanding that some people can’t afford anything other than the meal plan (you are the only exceptions), for those of you doing it because you think it’s the real “college experience” and you’ll meet tons of people, you’re wrong. The food is horrible, even if a slice of pizza looks good, it will never taste good. The amazing looking pasta will also taste disgusting as will anything else you eat there. The appeal of the “bottomless” food is also your worst enemy. The only thing worth eating in a dining hall is the desserts and eating too many of those will lead to the very thing that gives this blog its namesake. Instead, locate some convenient inexpensive food joints off campus or in the student union, or make monthly trips to the grocery store to stock up your dorm room. It works and it’s actually pretty convenient. (Hint: Always grocery shop after eating a big meal. If you’re hungry, those Cheez Its and Oreos look really good. If you’re full, you’ll be happier settling for granola bars and 100 calorie pack pretzels.)
– Melissa, Florida State University, Melissa Thinks You Should Read This

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13. Stay on top of things!
Make yourself a schedule of all your activites and classes, as well as when you have to study. Organization helps a lot.
– Shantel, Arizona State University, Girl Meets World

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14. Listen to your mother.
You can never have too many washcloths or pairs of underwear.
– Susan, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (my mom!)

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15. Don’t put yourself in a box.
Make sure to not limit yourself. This is college. You can be yourself without labels and preset stereotypes.  You are supposed to try new things and explore your interests.  Join clubs that are different. Try activities and events that stand out from the norm, because these are the experiences that will make the best memories and possibly uncover talents you didn’t know you had. Your new best friend, style, major, hobby, or career could be just around the campus corner.
– Jessica, University of Central Florida

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Bonus Tips:

From Melissa, Florida State University, Melissa Thinks You Should Read This

16. Some friends are semesterly.
It happens. You meet someone you have a class with or that lives in your dorm and you get along really well. You have a lot to talk about whether it’s the number of times your teacher snorted in a single class, the lack of usable washing machines in the laundry room, or the creepy old janitor who plays practical jokes on you in the hall. You text occasionally and instantly accept their Facebook friend request. Then after a semester or two, you have different classes and maybe you’re living in a different dorm or apartment. You’ll make new friends and the cycle will start all over again. Don’t fight it and don’t be angry. This isn’t to say that all friends are semesterly. Some are for years and some are for life. However, some of them will always tag team it.
17. Don’t make long-term plans with high school friends.
This isn’t to say that you and your besties from high school will never speak again. However, before you leave for college, you might feel nostalgic and scared and plan a specific weekend in the far future to visit a friend at another school. This is a no no. As hard as it is to believe, you will make new friends in college. You’ll have parties to go to, football games to tailgate for, study groups to attend, and just about a billion other things that you and your new friends will do. Don’t risk already having a perfectly good weekend blocked out because you were scared a few months ago. You could miss out on something really great and even more opportunities to meet people. Once you’ve started college, wait a while to make plans to visit people. Even then, you might be so happy and comfortable at school that you’ll tell your friends from home, “Sorry, buddy. See you at Thanksgiving.” You can tell them all about your awesome college life as you pass the yams.

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From Emily, Palm Beach State College

18. Stay in shape!
Don’t abandon the gym. Although it takes time away from partying and schoolwork, all that partying adds fat, and without the gym, you’ll gain weight.

19. Be mindful of your health.
Although you’re too lazy to make a gourmet meal like Mom used to make, don’t live off of fast food. Make a rule to only eat it three times per week max. A lot of stores have college student easy cookbooks you can use, and you should always have bread around to make sandwiches.

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From Karina, University of Central Florida, Karina Creative

20. Only buy the books you need.
Never buy your books in the bookstore; order from Chegg. If your professor says you don’t need the book, you don’t need the book.

21. Maintain some social media discretion!
NEVER post anything on your facebook/twitter/flickr/tumblr you wouldn’t want your boss/grandma to see.

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Thank you to everyone who contributed to this blog! :) You guys are amazing!

To my readers who have gone through college: what was the most important thing you learned your freshman year?