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14 Tips to Help You Ace College

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Heading back to college (or worse, heading to college for the first time) is always something of a shock. It’s like heaping helpings of all the fun of school combined with the responsibility of adulthood—a combination that can overwhelm even those of us who spent many years trying to make going to college our profession (Get another degree? Don’t mind if I do!).

So for those of you about to head back to school (or those of you who know someone who is), we’ve assembled some of the best college tips, hacks and words of wisdom we can find. Stick to these, and you drastically decrease your chances of veering off into the academic nosedive.

Our first tips come from Thomas Frank, whose blog, College Info Geek, dispenses words of wisdom to smart college students all over the Internet (he also created this YouTube video of advice on how to make sure your semester goes smoothly). We asked him for his top five tips for returning to—or embarking on—one’s career in higher education. Here’s what he said:

Know all your requirements before classes start.

bigstock-Flat-Round-School-Subjects-Ico-91418309 [Converted]“Make sure you know your textbook and supply requirements, your class schedule, the locations of your classes (you might be able to download a campus map and building floor plans from your university website), etc.”


Establish strong study habits.

bigstock-Flat-Round-School-Subjects-Ico-91418309 [Converted]“Find a good place to do the bulk of your studying, and set up specific times during the week to go study there. During the first couple weeks of the semester, your workload probably won’t be huge; as the weeks go on, though, work will pile up. Establishing strong habits in the early weeks will help you get through the later ones.”


Start building relationships right away.

bigstock-Flat-Round-School-Subjects-Ico-91418309 [Converted]“Keep an eye out for events, get to know the people living in your building, and introduce yourself to your professors.”


Ensure your computer files are backed up.

bigstock-Flat-Round-School-Subjects-Ico-91418309 [Converted]“I’ve seen far too many students lose months of work to a computer crash. Make sure you’re using something like Dropbox or Google Drive to keep your files backed up and synced to the cloud.”


Make time for breaks.

 bigstock-Flat-Round-School-Subjects-Ico-91418309 [Converted]It can be tempting to take on a ton of classes and join lots of clubs, but realize that your brain needs unstructured break time to function at its peak.”


College Hacks cover


Looking for more pearls of wisdom? You can find a ton of them gathered between two covers in the book College Hacks by Keith Bradford (Adams Media, 2015). The book is an expansive guide to solving problems, simplifying tasks, and reducing day-to-day frustrations while both studying and enjoying college life. Here are some of our favorites:

In the Classroom:

  • Have a separate user account on your laptop for presentations. This way, embarrassing personal things won’t show up on the screen when you turn it on in class.
  • Stumped on a project or presentation? Try ditching the computer and start writing by hand. This experience has been proven to help creativity.
  • Writing down your worries before taking an exam has been proven to actually boost test scores.

In the Dorm:

  • The easiest way to make friends quickly in college is to always leave your dorm room open when you’re in the room.
  • Put things back where you first looked for them, not where you found them.
  • Stick pieces of Velcro to the back of your remote and the side of your coffee table. You’ll never lose your remote again!

How to be Broke:

  • Starbucks offers an even smaller size than tall called a short. It’s cheaper and a much healthier size.
  • Buying something from Apple? Put it in your cart but don’t buy it yet. In seven to ten days, they’ll give you a 15-20 percent discount on that item.
  • When grocery shopping, the cheapest items will be on the top and bottom shelves, not at eye level.


As for us here at BookTrib, we have but one piece of advice for your academic career, or for the academic career of someone you know: enjoy it while you can—it goes by faster than you think!


Do you have a favorite tip that got you through college? Tell us about it in the comments!


Michael Ruscoe is a writer, teacher, and musician living in Southern Connecticut. He is the author of the novel, "From the Stray Cat Files: You’ll Do Anything," the anthology, "Baseball: A Treasury of Art and Literature," and numerous educational texts. An instructor at Southern Connecticut State University, Ruscoe is also lead singer and songwriter for the indie band Save the Androids! In his spare time he earns karma for his next life by ardently following the New York Mets. The proud father of two children, Ruscoe also cares for and supports a pair of goldfish, who, in all honesty, are not very good conversationalists.

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