How to be Successful in College

               College can be hectic and confusing, especially at first, so wouldn’t it help to have a “how to be successful in college” guide to help you navigate the chaos? Yes, one of the best teachers is experience, and believe me you will get plenty of that in the months to come, but a little extra help to make college life a little easier is never a bad thing. School, homework, stress, all that fun stuff will still come for you, but let’s look at some ways that you can soften the blow and cut down on the hours you would have spent trying to figure all of this out later on.

Tips for Success in College

               The first year of college can really open people’s eyes—like, fling them open. It can be a shock going from high school to college; the workload increases by a painful amount, the environment is unfamiliar, every professor expects you to use all of your free time on their class, and money is seemingly always gone. Freshman year can feel like an absolute dumpster fire—but it doesn’t have to.  

The great technological advancement, known as the internet, has brought with it countless resources for every sort of person under the sun—including you and me. Student resources on the internet are not lacking, but are also not always cheap and easy. Not to worry, the leg work has been done. Here are 6 tips for success in college…


               A large part of college life is working with your professors. From class time to homework to stressing about how they grade to trying desperately to read their minds and understand what they want, your professors play a big role in your experience. So how can you make sure that role is a more positive one?

Tip number one is to use is a website that is, unlike many professors, self-explanatory. Students rate the professors they had for other students to read about. You can search the professors by school, subject, or by name. This is especially helpful when you know what classes you need to take and what options for professors you have.

My advice? Go with the average rating and look for patterns in what people are saying about the professor—keep in mind some people may just have personal beef with a professor, so don’t take one bad rating or especially harsh comment as a written-in-stone truth. And remember, this site only works if people are rating professors, so don’t just peruse—rate your professors.


               One thing that is almost always a given in any class is “required reading”—textbooks. And as you will soon find out (if you haven’t already), textbooks are not cheap. You must have them for class, so it’s guaranteed profit for vendors because of high demand. Needless to say, the price for traditional textbooks won’t be dropping anytime soon.

 So, what are your options? Pay money you don’t have for books you don’t really want—or use Openstax is a part of Rice University, and their goal is to make education accessible to everyone. One of the ways they do that is offering free textbooks (online) to students.

Now, before you get too excited, the textbooks they offer are published and peer-reviewed by them, so it is not a guarantee that their textbook will have the exact information as the one your professor requires. However, it is available at no extra cost to you and will hit the highlights of the subject.

Another option to get cheaper textbooks is renting them from Chegg. Similar to Openstax, Chegg is a student-centered business that’s main goal is to make sure that the student can get the most out of their education for the least additional money. Chegg offers textbook rentals, etextbooks, used textbooks and can cut the cost of them by up to 90% of what you would pay from a typical vendor.

Research, Writing, and Studying

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    If you haven’t been told yet, let me tell you now: college is full of essays. Research essays, reflection essays, analysis essays, you name it—college will have you write an essay about it. It’s an inevitable part of college life that most of us would rather do without. A big part of how to be successful in college is learning how to write an essay and while it may not be the most pleasant experience, it can be made a lot easier.

Chegg provides a service called Citation Machine. This service will take the sources that you used to get the information for your essay and spit out a completed and correctly formatted citation, for free. It also offers to check your paper for plagiarism or grammar mistakes, but it will only show you five mistakes for free. For a full paper check, you would have to join a paid plan.

Another great resource for research and writing is Zotero. Zotero allows you to save and organize your research and sources using keywords or categories, however you want. It also generates citations, bibliographies, or references for sources that you use in whatever word processor or text editor that you use. Zotero, like Chegg, does offer free functions, but not for everything.

College life also involves an untold (see also: unpleasant) amount of studying. Much like writing essays, studying is also an essential part of how to be successful in college. Finding a studying method that works for you is just as important. Quizlet offers several ways for you to “quiz” yourself on the information and mark which things you need more practice with. It offers free functions and some others that you have to pay for.

Chegg also has numerous study-helpers, such as a flash card maker, test-prep, Q and A’s, and a math solver. Though not all of the functions are free, or at least unlimited and free, there are plenty of options on Chegg to make study and schoolwork easier.

Organization and Time Management

               Keeping track of upcoming assignments, exams, and projects can be a hassle. An important tip? Stay organized. Some people use planners, others use Google Calendar, and others trust their mind to be a steel trap of information after looking at the syllabus once—they are the ones playing with fire.

Do not trust yourself to “just remember” all the due dates and upcoming assignments for every class. It will not end well. We humans are easily distracted, and prone to forget things. Stuff will fall through the cracks, and may the Lord have mercy when that “stuff” ends up being the 10-page term paper worth 40% of your grade. Tough to come back from that.

If it’s not a planner or some type of calendar, then try Trello. Trello is an organization platform that allows you to organize tasks, set due dates and reminders, and separate the work by what needs to be done, what is being worked on, and what is already finished.

You can completely customize your board and you can have several boards, so if you like you can separate each class into its own board. You can add labels to the tasks and descriptions in case you need a reminder of what you’re meant to do for each task. The best part? You can do all of that for free.

               You already have the work to focus on, make remembering the computer’s job.



   As far as tips for college go, this is a must: manage your money. It is new for a lot of college students to have to take charge of their own money. Understandable. But don’t find out the hard way how easy it is to lose track of your spending and end up with a big, fat zero in the bank account. Making that discovery in the line of the grocery store after you have completely run out of food is a different kind of pain.

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 Mint and are two budgeting apps that track your spending, what you are spending on, and can even show you areas where you can cut back on spending or ways to save money. When money is tight, like it usually is for college students, that knowledge can be a lifesaver.

Don’t be the guy who leaves the grocery store empty-handed; be the guy who leaves with the eggs, hot pockets, and other essentials you went in there for.


               Meals for college can either be really easy, or really difficult. If your college has a cafeteria or a food plan, I would recommend you use it. Take advantage of meals that are prepared for you and (most likely) already paid for by you. If it does not offer a meal plan or your dorms are fitted with kitchens, then mealtime gets a little trickier.

You can go the route where you buy boxes of mac n cheese and some eggs and try to survive on that for four years—not the healthiest idea, but an idea, nonetheless.

My college tips when it comes to food? Try out or Both websites have loads of recipes that are delicious and super do-able for college students and dorm kitchens. Most of them are super easy, don’t require a lot of ingredients, and will add a little bit of variety into your daily routine.

Budgetbytes even calculates the cost of each of their recipes, so you can tell how much value you get per each meal. The cost is listed per amount of the ingredient though, not per how much you would typically spend on the item as it is sold by the stores. So, if the recipe called for a tablespoon of butter, the price for that tablespoon is listed, not the price for the stick of butter, which is how butter is sold. Still, knowing how much each meal actually costs to make is valuable when you are trying to keep yourself to a manageable budget.

Success in College

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               College life can be overwhelming, especially at first. All the “new” can be a lot to take on. These college tips can absolutely help you succeed in your classes, your kitchen, and your wallet. Of course, there is more to succeeding than just using the right apps or finding the right professor for that one class. Ultimately, success in college comes down to you and how much work you put into it. But why not use whatever you can to make that work a little easier?

As always, for more info on Christian Colleges or to put your name in for one of our Scholarship drawings, visit us here.