Hacking College: A Simple Guide to Survival

Updated May 3, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Learn where the free food is

● In college, free food is a life force
○ During the first few weeks of the year, the free food opportunities are virtually limitless
■ From freshman welcome events and club recruitment events to student government activities, there are so many ways to get free food that you shouldn’t have to even touch your meal plan for at least two weeks
● To find free food events on your campus, check your student email, read bulletin boards around campus and accept the annoying flyers that people shove into your hands as you walk by

Relearn what it means to be a student

● Learn how to study
○ For many people, public school studying is completely different from college studying
○ You can’t memorize something and then forget it, you have to really learn it
■ Concepts build upon older concepts
■ The term “cumulative final” will haunt your dreams
● Learn how to take notes
○ Taking good notes during lectures will cut down on the amount of time you have to devote to studying from the book
■ Color-coding your notes will stimulate your visual memory and make it easier to recall facts
○ Staying organized will make it easier for you to go back and find the information you need when it’s test time

Figure out where the student discounts are

● Many stores give discounts to students, but may not openly advertise it
○ Local restaurants
○ Salons
○ Mechanics
○ Movie theaters
● Other retailers:
○ The Apple Store
○ Amazon
○ Sprint
○ AT&T
○ Adobe
○ Norton
○ Subway
○ Qdoba
○ Kroger
○ 24 Hour Fitness
○ Greyhound
○ Amtrak

Build up your GPA at the beginning of college

● Most students take easier classes in their first year or two of college
○ This includes general education courses and introductory courses within a major
● By taking these easy courses early, you can build up your GPA so that it’s harder to drag it down if you fail one later

Learn how to cook unconventionally

● If you failed at learning how to get free food on campus, your meal plan will probably run out much sooner than you’re ready for
○ You’re going to need to learn how to cook without the luxury of pots and pans
○ Luckily, a coffee maker works great for cooking
■ Noodles
■ Hot dogs
■ Oatmeal
■ Fondue
■ Steamed vegetables
■ Bonus: Use the coffee burner to make a grilled cheese sandwich

● If you’re unfortunate enough to not have a coffee maker, you need to learn to make coffee without one (you’re gonna need it)
○ 1. Cut out the bottom of a styrofoam cup
○ 2. Place a coffee filter over the smaller end and secure it with a rubber band
○ 3. Flip the cup so the filter is on top
○ 4. Fill the filter with coffee grounds
○ 5. Set the whole thing onto a coffee mug
○ 6. Pour hot water over the grounds so that it drips through into the mug

Engage with your major

● Talk to your professors
○ Building a relationship with professors in your department will make life easier later on
■ If you are going to take them for multiple classes, having an established relationship will make it easier to take to them if you have any problems
■ A good relationship with a professor may make it easier to land a research position within the department (which looks great on a resume’)
■ Professors who know you are more likely to write good letters of recommendation for you
● Making friends in your major has many benefits
○ You can trade textbooks rather than risking bankruptcy at the beginning of every semester
○ They can give you advice on which professors to take and which to avoid
○ Friends who have taken the same classes as you can help you learn concepts you may not be getting
○ They understand your struggle

Find a good bathroom

● There are few things worse than waiting in line to use the bathroom with only a few minutes to get to your next class
○ Scout out bathrooms between your classes and figure out when they’re empty so you can take care of business


Related: The Numbers and Research Regarding Cheating in College

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