Life Lessons: A College Survival Mini-Guide

You’re young. You’re fabulous. You just have one problem: you lack experience. Before you go off to college, here are a few things you’ll wish you knew.

Life Lessons: A College Survival Mini-Guide

How to Wash Clothes

You probably never thought about it before, but washing clothes is actually pretty important. You will see it eventually, at least once: someone walking down the hall in a pink shirt that used to be white. What happened?

They mixed colors.

The basics of laundry are simple:

  1. Separate your colors, whites, and any clothing that’s delicate.
  2. Wash in cold water to prevent colors from running.
  3. Take the clothes out of the washer immediately when it stops – this prevents them from smelling like mildew.
  4. Air-dry delicates like spandex, bras, and wool.
  5. Dry cotton on medium or low heat or air-dry to prevent shrinking.

That’s pretty much it.

Learn How to Prepare Simple Meals

If you want to eat more than Ramen noodles (you’ll get sick of it eventually), here’s what you have to do: buy The Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook or The Healthy College Cookbook.

Both are great starter books that will teach you simple recipes. Cooking is a great life skill and makes you more independent. And, that cafeteria will eventually get old. Seriously.

Keep It Simple

Get simple bedding from, and do keep it simple. Expensive stuff tends to get lost, broken/damaged, or stolen. Your dorm room will be your new home. Learn to love it. Fill it up with a few things from home, clear away a space to work, and try to keep your area decluttered and simple.

Learn About Your Roommates

Your roommates can make your life fun or a living hell. Learn about them, their idiosyncrasies, and be upfront about your pet peeves and encourage them to lay down their rules too. The little things do add up over time. The best way to deal with it is to diffuse a fight before it begins.

Take Advantage of Open Office Hours

Crowded lecture halls aren’t the best place to get one-to-one assistance. Take advantage of teaching assistants and professors’ open office hours. It can be a great way for you to deepen your knowledge about a particular subject you love or are having trouble with.

Rewrite Your Notes

Rewrite your notes after class. During lecture hall, you’re scrambling to copy down what your professor is saying. But, you’re not really absorbing anything. Rewriting your notes will help you “embed” that information into your subconscious.

Have a Plan for Getting Home

Part of college is the party scene. If you’re going out on the weekends, have a way to get home. A lot of college students don’t plan. Don’t be one of them.

Keep tabs on your designated driver and have a backup plan in case it doesn’t work out, including numbers of local cab companies tucked away in your phone.

Start Interning

It’s OK if you don’t know what you want to be. Most people don’t. Not really. In fact, lots of people take up jobs after college that they don’t really want, but that pay the bills. At the end of the day, you can fail at something that you want to be doing or you can fail at something you hate doing.

Interning gives you the opportunity to explore your interests, make a decision about what you like doing, and then go after it. It’s not like a normal job where it takes a lot of time to specialize in something to get into a company only to find out 5 years into it that you made the wrong decision.

Jennifer Barnes is a home economist. She enjoys sharing her insights on better living. Her posts appear mainly on family and lifestyle blog sites.