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Tips for Freshmen in College, the Ultimate Guide! Part III

Updated on May 24, 2014

This article is part of a three-part series:

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***This article is Part II out of three parts.

15. Always check Amazon for your textbooks

Amazon makes it so easy and you can get them dirt cheap. Next semester my textbooks would have cost me $200-300. With amazon? $160. Yes, that is quite a feat.

Whenever I compare textbook prices from other sites to Amazon, Amazon is usually the cheapest. It is now my go-to source for all textbooks.

Amazon Textbook Trade-In Program:

This service allows you to exchange your old textbooks (in good condition) with Amazon for a gift-card of a certain amount. My calculus book for instance was purchased for $115 on ebay. At the end of the year, I checked Amazon and the trade-in value was $150. I sent it in and was approved for my gift-card quickly.

NOTE- Free Textbooks:

You may be able to find an online PDF versions of a textbook. Check before you purchase a textbook because popular textbooks are often uploaded online as PDF files. You can download these and put them on your computer.

16. College courses are 10x faster paced than high-school courses

New course material will be presented to you every class, and if you're lucky, there will be a 3-8 minute recap of what you did in the previous class. Course material will continually be thrown at you- read or not.

Prepare yourself and stay on target. Professors expect you to keep up and stay on track with their syllabus and lessons. It's nothing like those high-school courses where you spend weeks on one topic. You are expected to know many concepts and topics and to learn them quickly.

How to Stay on Track with College Courses

You should review your notes:

  • after class, briefly
  • 10-20 minutes the night you took the notes
  • right before class, about 10-15 minutes
  • 2x every week, 10-15 minute sessions

These short review sessions will help you study efficiently and very effectively. You want to be able to study for tests quickly- especially when finals-week rolls around.


17. Change the "I'm the best" attitude

Hello and welcome to the college world, where many other attendees were the "best" in their high-school. It was easy to be the best in high-school, but you're in college now where students are bringing in talents, intellectual capabilities you've never dreamed of, problem solving skills that would blow anything you did out of the water.

This is going to be, for some, a harsh reality check. This is a very competitive world.

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18. Taking college credits in high-school can shorten your course load in college

Oh, you have a few college credits you got in high-school you say? Well that's awesome news! No, really- I mean it. That means you're freeing up room in your schedule for your first college semester.

You are one step ahead of most of your colleagues. College courses offered in high-school will often satisfy some of your general education requirements. This means you have less courses to take towards your degree.

How to Read a Textbook

19. Learn how to read textbooks efficiently

This is easier said than done and the way you read a textbook depends on the particular course it applies to.

Reading Textbooks

  • Don't read every single word
  • Skim for important information
  • Pay attention to material relevant to your course
  • Take brief, abbreviated notes
  • Summarize each section of text you have read
  • Practice questions at the end of each chapter


If you're struggling to understand your textbook, use your internet resources.

20. Find the best studying techniques for you

I was not blessed like some others who can absorb material quickly. I have to study for hours until I grasp the material as much as a professor wants me to.

Chances are you're going to be studying for hours. But learn how to optimize your time by studying in a way that works best for you. There are many types of helpful study devices/aids out there. Do some internet research.

How to Create the Perfect Study Space

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21. Find appropriate study places

The environment you study in is critical for your success.

You have a whole new, beautiful campus in front of you to study at. Find quiet areas with little distractions. If you put yourself into a room with a lot of little distractions, even if you're getting work done, it'll take you a longer time to study, and you won't get as much out of it.

Tips on Finding Places to Study

  • Quiet place free of distractions
  • Do not have your phone out
  • Do not open social networks on your computer
  • Have all necessary materials you need for studying
  • Have water (or coffee or tea) and healthy snack (trail-mix, fruits, veggies, etc)
  • Do not study in the same place you sleep
  • Studying on a bed will make you sleepy and distracted
  • Coffee shops are an excellent environment that sparks creativity and productive thinking
  • Utilize your library's space
  • Remember that your time is valuable
  • Get your own desk and create a productive work environment (I got one for $40 off of Craigslist)
  • Constantly change your study environment to enable easier information recall for tests, exams and quizzes


22. It doesn't hurt to have a job

Don't immediately shrug this off as a bad idea. Give some serious thought. It's a valuable skill to be able to juggle a job, do well in school, be social, and keep a healthy body and mind.

If you want a job but you're worried about how well you're going to do,, try finding a tutoring job. You'll get practice on a subject you know about, and therefore will have it fresh in your memory. Also, it's a great, rewarding feeling to help a fellow peer make that "light click" for them.

23. Stay on top of your courses

This is the LAST thing you want, is to have to play catch-up. Stay on track. You won't regret it. Keep up with your assignments, projects, notes, topics, readings, whatever. Just don't let yourself slip. This is dangerous.

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24. Don't get discouraged

If you did poorly your first semester, or second or whatever, it's okay. Getting into the swing of things sometime in junior year will still look good in regards to applying to grad-schools or applying for a job.

Do not let yourself feel discouraged. You'll trick yourself into thinking you're not very good at school- and what we think, we become.

You need to use what you're feeling to motivate you and to give you that drive to study harder. Really- all you need is a little attitude change, and you'll be heading off in a good direction.

It's going to get stressful and brutal at times, but it'll all be worth it in the end and NEVER, and I mean NEVER let yourself think for a second that you're not good enough/intelligent enough for college or your area of study or whatever. Prove to yourself you're good enough and you deserve this. :)

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  • mariexotoni profile image
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    mariexotoni 3 years ago

    I just got a kindle paperwhite! Textbooks are definitely cheaper when they're the ebooks!

    And good to know about grad school! If I get in. Fingers crossed! :) thanks for stopping by

  • Torrs13 profile image

    Tori Canonge 3 years ago from California

    I order all of my books from Amazon because they are so much cheaper. I'm a graduate student and have found that getting a Kindle has helped me a lot. Not only do I have all my textbooks in one place, but I can also get the Kindle versions of most books for a lot cheaper than even the used prices. Also, I can rent some of the books for an even better deal. I definitely agree with you about studying and making the time for it. Graduate school is even more work than undergrad, so be prepared to read a lot!