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7 Things Every College Freshman Needs

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CollegeFor many, attending college is a rite of passage. You head out into the great unknown, ready to take your life into your own hands. Without mom and dad looking over your shoulder, you can make your own decisions about how to spend your money, and what you want to eat each day.

I know I was excited about the prospect of college. I had most of what I needed when my parents drove me down, unloaded my stuff, and then took off. If you are getting ready to go to college for the first time, here are 7 things that you need:

  1. Sense of Adventure: It helps to have a sense of adventure as a college freshman. You don’t need to be into partying all the time (especially since that can cut into your ability to do well in your classes), but it helps to be willing to try new things and make the most of your college experience. It’ll be good for your future.
  2. Ability to Budget: The ability to budget is a must for any college freshman. Now that mom and dad are no longer in charge of most of the money decisions, understanding how money works, including where it comes from and where it goes is important. This is a skill that can keep the college freshman out of debt.
  3. Safe: If you plan to share a room as a freshman, you need a safe. I didn’t share a room my freshman year, but I still probably should have had one. A good safe can protect your essential documents and your most valuable items. You may not know your roommate, and you certainly don’t know everyone your roommate is bringing over.
  4. Savvy Shopping Skills: It helps to be able to comparison shop. Not only can you get the best deals on everything from used textbooks to student discounts at restaurants to the best deals on everyday items, but you will develop a lifelong skill that can help you later on.
  5. Realistic Course Load: Don’t assume that you can handle 18 to 21 credits a semester — certainly not as a freshman. Be realistic about your course load. It can help to start with 12 credits and see how you do. Depending on the activities you participate in, and whether or not you have a job, expecting to be able to handle 18 credit might be unrealistic.
  6. Healthy Habits: Without mom and dad to make sure you’re eating right, and without high school sports teams to keep you fit, you might start to slip when it comes to your health. As a college freshman, it’s important to stay on top of your health. You will be more energetic, and avoid some of the health problems that can develop from unhealthy behaviors.
  7. Laptop: Having an inexpensive laptop can be a big help as a student today. It helps when taking notes, and completing assignments. When I was in college, laptops weren’t really something that many students had. However, I did have an inexpensive computer in my room. It was better than having to traipse to the computer lab to complete assignments.

What do you think every college freshman needs? What would you add to this list?

(Photo: CollegeDegrees360)

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8 Responses to “7 Things Every College Freshman Needs”

  1. admiral58 says:

    Yep, they def. need some personal finance skills

  2. I’d encourage them to make sure they are in a major and at a school that makes financial sense. If your education is not going to lead to a job that will pay the bills, you might want to shift your focus. The last thing you want is a boatload of student loans and no way to pay them off.

    • SLS says:

      Yes, because god forbid you go to college in order to enjoy the learning process, explore your identity, and study something you love.

      I’m not saying its enjoyable to be unemployed, but college should be for more than just choosing a major that makes financial sense.

  3. NateUVM says:

    A safe? Pray tell, what valuable documents/items are you bringing to school with you? Shouldn’t anything safe-worthy be left at home? It’s not like you’re going to the moon….

    • Scott says:

      Not everyone is lucky enough to have a dorm room just be a “home away from home”. For some people, it truly is home. And you definitely want to lock up any family valuables, passport, birth certificate, social security card, insurance paperwork, spare cash, etc. You may trust your roommate, you may even trust your roommate’s friends, but what about every other random person on campus?

      I graduated ten years ago from college when laptops were around but relatively rare. Theft of laptops was rampid, even what you would think are very safe areas, which is why all the school personnel at the time recommended a desktop over a laptop. Remember, criminals come in all shapes and sizes these days. And some broke student may see an opportunity to help pay for their own tuition, housing, and food by victimizing you.

  4. Simon Elstad says:

    In addition to having savvy finance skills, I think a part-time job or freelance gig would come in handy to supplement whatever cash they have and have extra for savings and some fun.

    Yeah, the safe does seem a bit over the edge :)

  5. NateUVM says:

    @ Scott – Agreed. For the population of students that have no family or home to call…home, they would need somewhere to store those papers.

    For the vast majority of people attending college, however, there is no “need” to have their SS card on them, or their birth certificate. Spare cash? How much spare cash does one “need” at school? That can’t be handled via other avenues?

    And now we’re talking about a safe big enough for a laptop…? Wow.

    Again, the title of the article is talking about “needs.” Having quick access to those documents, etc…seems to be more of a want than anything.

    I, rather, see having a safe as more of a risk. What happens when a buddy down the hall asks you to hide his illicit, um….recreational materials while his/her parents are visiting? Or worse? Peer pressure can be pretty strong when one is making friends in a new environment and it’s pretty hard to hide a safe that can accomdate a laptop in a small dorm room.

    Seems that simplifying life while trying to study would be more of a goal than making sure one has their passport with them.

  6. I remember going to college on day one like it was yesterday, sadly it was almost eight years ago :( This is a great list and I found having a safe to be a great idea. Obviously I didnt have much valuables, but I used the safe for anything, my wallet if I was going down the hall, or my iPod if I was leaving for the day. My roommate freshman year was great, but who knows, better safe then sorry.


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