5 College Life Hacks Everyone Should Know

My first year of college, I did everything wrong.

By my last year of college, I had a perfect GPA, Honors credits, and was asked to speak on behalf of my department.

I wish someone had told me these things:

1. If you actually read the material, you learn it a whole lot better.

Seriously.

You think I’m joking, but as someone who constantly did the bare minimum (and struggled as a result), it took me a long time to realize that if you just take the time to read the book (read and underline as you go), you learn it.

Shocking, right?

The biggest difference I saw in my own personal education happened as soon as I made the shift from reading as a task to reading as a conduit for knowledge.

You can’t just let your eyes glaze over and assume the words will stick.
You have to read like you picked this book up on purpose, and there’s something in it you want to find for yourself.

2. If you struggle to pay attention, sit in the front row.

I was never a great student. But somewhere along the line, in college, I admitted this to myself and started making decisions accordingly.

I had to take math and science classes in order to graduate, and I knew if I sat in the back row I would doze off, write raps in my notebook, or find a way to cause trouble and be disruptive.

So, I forced myself to sit in the front row.

I put myself in a position where it would become embarrassingly obvious if I didn’t know the material.

I’m a competitive person. I thrived off the fear of looking stupid.

And got A’s in both classes as a result.

3. Start studying more than the night before.

Expert-level procrastinator here.

I’m telling you, if you do even ten minutes of studying a week in advance, six days in advance, five days, four days, three days, two days, by the time the test rolls around, you’ll crush it.

This is just how memory works.

And it doesn’t take much, really.

But the information needs time to marinate.

In a metaphor, if the steak requires eight hours of marinating, you can’t force that process to happen in an hour. You just can’t.
Let it marinate.

4. Spend time around people you want to be like.

If everyone experienced the academic demands of college in isolation, they would pass with flying colors.

What makes college such a challenge for some people are the distractions: the loud noises down your dorm hall, the parties, your roommate, the list goes on forever.

There is always something to do, and always someone trying to convince you to do it with them.

This same advice goes for anyone out of college and just trying to do well in life, period — but it is extremely prominent in those formative college years:

Spend time around people you want to be like.

Spend time around people who have good habits and big goals.

Spend time around people you see yourself learning from, instead of holding their head while they throw up on a Wednesday morning.

Spend time around people who have something, some personality trait (confidence), some skill set (guitar), some quality that you don’t.

Over time, you’ll soak it up—and grow as a result.

5. Invest as much time as possible into your own projects.

Trust me, of all the things you can extract from a college experience, the amount of free time you have to work on things that interest you is the greatest hack of all.

Most students go through all of college doing two things:

  • Getting “good enough” grades to get by.
  • Socializing.

Very few pursue any ideas of their own.

Very few build something.

Very few spend their nights learning instead of socializing.

Very few decide to start a club, or a new hobby, or a business.

You will never, ever, have as much time as you do in college to invest in yourself.

But the more time you do invest in the things you’re interested in, skills you want to acquire, the farther along you will be than every other 20-something when you enter the real world.

And that’s the greatest hack of all.


Thanks for reading! :)

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