Sarah’s College Survival Guide: Five Habits to Start Now

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

I found through trial and error that there are many habits we can start early on for personal success in college. While some of these tips are not for everyone, they have definitely helped me. If you’ve already got the hang of the things I mention below, then you’re on your way to success already!

{to-do list + Lilly Pulitzer mini planner}

1. Use a planner.
Before you skip over this one because you have a personal hatred towards agendas/planners, let me tell you my take on it. Whether you choose to use an old-school agenda or your high-tech phone or laptop, I can’t stress how important taking notes of when your assignments are due or when your tests are. I am guilty myself of missing a final exam. Trust me. You don’t want to be that person.

I use a planner daily, and it really helps me prioritize what I need to finish and remember when important events are. I look forward to writing in my planner by using colorful pens, planner stickers, and fun sticky tabs. Click here for some tips on how I use my planner.

{washing my sheets and towels in the dorm laundry room, taken with my GoPro camera}

2. Do your own laundry.
It’s a little embarrassing to say, but I didn’t do my own laundry regularly before coming to college. Unless you’re lucky enough to have your laundry done for you, I learned that it’s nice to go into college knowing how you want your clothes to be washed. While many of my friends put all their clothing in one load, I am personally very picky about how each one of my clothing pieces is washed and dried. It’s good to get practice doing your own laundry before you risk standing in front of the washing machine at your college dorm searching on the Internet how much detergent to use or what fabrics don’t go together.

{beautiful trail at Mt. Bonnell in Austin…but what’s the temperature? It could be 80 degrees or 30.}

3. Check the daily forecast.
My mom used to tell me before school whether or not I should wear a jacket. The weather in Austin can be deceiving, because even though it’s sunny outside, it’s actually really cold, and I don’t have time to go back home to get a jacket. I’ve seen girls wear shorts in 30 degree weather plus wind chill, because they got tricked by the clear skies. It’s important to check the weather before leaving your place, so you’re prepared to face the day wearing the right amount of clothing.

{my organizer, favorite pens, and sticky tab markers}

4. Be responsible about your school supplies. 
In high school, I was the go-to girl for both gum and pencils/pens. In college, it’s good to know you are prepared with basic school supplies, so you don’t have to ask the person sitting next to you for paper and a pencil like in high school. Things I recommend: good pens, a stapler, and a ruler.

5. Build a schedule.
You’ve probably heard this one a lot. But when you come into college having an idea of what time you wake up, eat, work out, do homework, and sleep, it’s much easier to plan your classes around your personal productive hours and make the most out of your day. They say that college is all about time management, so it’s best to start a regular schedule for yourself now, so you only have to make minor adjustments to your schedule when you get to college.

I hope these tips are helpful. Do you have any helpful habits to share that I didn’t mention here? Please let me know if you have any suggestions and comments for this series! You can find my previous College Survival Series post here. Stay tuned for more!

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  1. 2.18.16
    Anonymous said:

    Are there any must must must do habits in college? Often times, we are told of the spiritual habits we must cultivate in college, how important would the significance of those would you say in your college journey?

  2. 2.18.16
    Sarah said:

    Thank you for reading my blog and for your comment! I was raised in a family that prioritizes spiritual values. I still hold them very dear to me, because I know of the graces that I've received through Christ. My take on it is that students should have an idea of the typical temptations that college will bring. It's a whole new territory, so if you are determined to keep your faith in college, it is important to come in with habits of daily cultivation of prayer, reading the Bible, and quiet reflection time. It has definitely been a big part of my life in college, but an even bigger part of my life has been joining a campus fellowship and continuing to go to church, so I know I will continue to grow in my faith.

    Cheers, Sarah

  3. 2.20.16
    Anonymous said:

    I feel left out and excluded in college since all my friends are partying and drinking, and it's not something I'm interested in at all. What should I do to find my niche? It feels like I end up spending every weekend night alone while the rest of the campus is out having fun.

  4. 2.21.16
    Sarah said:

    Thank you for commenting your question on my blog post! I, too, sometimes feel lonely on weekend nights because of that same reason, but I constantly remind myself that I am here for school, and school is a priority. There is usually enough homework and studying to keep me busy during weeknights and weekends!

    But all of us need a school break sometimes! College is the perfect time to explore new things and find things you're passionate about. If you happen to be at a school in a large city, use your free time to explore! I recommend finding different student organizations to find quality friends. If you find a group that is interested in the same things you are, you are more likely to find your "niche"! For example, I love that my school has a Rubiks Cube Club and a Rock Climbing Club! On that note, exercising is another great way to keep busy, make friends, and stay healthy!

    I've learned that college is the time to embrace learning new things and enjoy spending alone time doing the things you love. I hope my suggestions are helpful. Look out for a future blog post about loneliness in college. Feel free to ask any more questions or email me at thebellainsider[at]!