Tips for The First Year College Student

The transition from life as a high school senior to a college freshman can be challenging. It’s essential to plan to set yourself up for college success. Let’s explore some important things to know as a college freshman.

What to Expect Your First Year of College

To ensure you’re well-prepared, here are some of the things to expect from your first year of college:

New Experiences and Friends

When you join college, you may gradually drift away from your high school friends as you gain different experiences. You’ll make new friends in college that will help you adapt to your new life.

There’ll be opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities to help keep you occupied. You may also consider finding a part-time job.

Lots of Freedom and Flexibility

College doesn’t generally operate on an 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. school schedule. You can choose to take only morning classes or afternoon classes or a combination.

You can also plan your schedule to include classes only on certain days, such as on Mondays and Wednesdays. That means you’d have five free days. You can spend your free time doing other important things, like a part-time job.

Studying Is Paramount

You may not have taken your studies seriously in high school. In college, studying will be your top-most priority. You’ll need to establish a healthy study pattern if you want to be successful.

You Might Be Overwhelmed

New friends, new places, and new experiences can be overwhelming. It’s part of the growth in college. The challenges you encounter as a freshman toughens you for the world that awaits you once you graduate.

Cost of College

The college has a reputation for being expensive. The cost of college encompasses several types of expenses. Understanding these expenses will make it easier for you to create a college budget. Breaking down these expenses will show that higher education is quite affordable.

A budgeting system will help you avoid overwhelming student loans. Let’s break down the cost of college:

  • Tuition — Tuition is the price you pay for taking classes at a college. It varies based on variables, such as your academic program, the number of credits you take, or whether you’re a resident of the state or not.
  • Room and Board Costs — The cost of room and board will depend on the type of accommodations, such as a dormitory, group house, or off-campus apartment. Some colleges lump room and board charges together, which can be misleading. The range is generally between $3,000 and $4,500 annually.
  • Books and Supplies — These expenses will vary depending on your major. Science books are often more expensive compared to other books. Likewise, you may need ten or more books for a single English literature course. Generally, books and supplies can cost you between $500 and $700 a year.
  • Personal Expenses — Personal expenses may include daily costs, basic health care, and entertainment. Don’t forget about the smartphone, computer, and data plans.
  • Utilities — Rent for on-campus housing sometimes includes water, gas, cable, electricity, and other utility bills. If you have off-campus accommodations, you should include these in your monthly expenses.

Budgeting for the College Student

Learning financial management at this stage in life will help you achieve financial independence early in life. Here are a few tips to help you keep your finances in check in college:

Use Budgeting Apps

If you find it hard to budget your money, a budgeting app can help you keep track of your expenses. Mint, P2K Money, and Easy Envelope Budget Aid are some of the free budgeting apps you can try.

Save for Emergencies

Set some cash aside for unexpected expenses — around 10% of your overall budget is a safe number. If your roommate moves out unexpectedly, this money can help ease the stress and costs that come with the sudden change.

Capitalize on Student Discounts

Many companies offer discounts specifically for students. Make sure you use your student ID when shopping to enjoy these discounts and save some money.

Reduce Your Utility Costs

If you live off-campus, you can find ways to minimize your utility costs. Investing in energy-efficient devices and reducing your shower times are some practical ways. You may also consider finding a utility company, like Maryland Gas and Electric, which offers affordable rates.


Going from high school to college is a huge transition, characterized by a lot of changes. To ensure a smooth transition, you should know what to expect in your first year of college. It’s essential to understand the costs involved to recognize how to manage your finances while in college.