As a young adult leaving behind the world I knew and beginning university life, there are many things that I wish I had known or at least, would have grasped and accepted. Looking back, I was often given advice that I dismissed or overlooked while focused on the bounty of new experiences in front of me. Here is a list I’ve compiled of the top advice that I wish I would have taken during my time as a college student:

  • When possible, buy your books online. My first semester of college, I purchased all of my textbooks from the bookstore. This ended up totaling around $900! Textbooks can often be found much cheaper on Amazon, or other online retailers. This isn’t always a possibility depending on what book your professor requires, but it should definitely become a habit to shop around for the best deal before buying. (A second important note is to sell them on Amazon after the semester ends. That same semester, the bookstore offered me a whopping $45 to buy back my books. Ouch. Our education coaches are happy to guide you through the process of selling your books online.)

  • Go to free events on campus. There are so many opportunities to learn new things, expand your horizons, and sometimes even score free food on every college campus. While I was in school, we were offered a variety of speakers, movies, and other activities — most of which I skipped because I told myself I was too busy or too tired. Don’t get me wrong, I was a sucker for finding the best free meal on campus when I started to run out of groceries, but I still wish that I had gone a little out of my comfort zone to go to that speaker I’m still hearing about or the cultural festival I’m intrigued by. You never know where you might meet a new friend or learn something that changes your life for the better.

  • Take advantage of the various campus services that are included in your tuition. Did you know that as a student at most colleges/universities, things like access to the gym and on-campus health services are included in your tuition in fees? Gym memberships can be expensive, as I’ve learned since graduating, and I’m constantly reminiscing about the days of being able to sign in to the athletic facilities with just my student ID card. You also may have access to an on-campus medical professional whom you can see when you are feeling under the weather. Be aware of what services you have access to and use them while you can.

Your college experience is sure to consist of ups, downs, and everything-in-betweens, just like mine did. Do your best to make the most of it all and use your time and opportunities wisely in order to maximize your college experience and the ways in which it helps you grow into a unique, independent human being who is ready to go after their dreams, whatever they may be.

Contributed by Miranda Houchens, Education Coach at Northwest College Support