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101 Essential Resources And Tips For College Freshmen


With hundreds of thousands of college freshmen starting college across the country, I wanted to share some of the best tips, tricks, and insights I’ve found and compiled so that none of you turn into a delusional college student.

Starting life alone for the first time can be a challenge on multiple fronts – educational, financial, social, and more.  With safety nets gone, college freshman have to figure it out alone.  Here is a great guide to help them find the information they need to be successful.

This guide isn’t all-inclusive (although we tried to be). If you have a great tip or trick for college students, please share it in the comments below!

To navigate the list, here are the main areas of tips for college freshmen:

Getting financial aid isn’t just something that you do before you start your freshman year.  You typically have to re-apply for financial aid each school year, and sometimes each semester.  Keep these links handy so that you can easily track down the resources you need.

  • FinAid – FinAid is an amazing resource for everything related to financial aid, from scholarships to student loans.
  • FAFSA – You need to submit your FAFSA (Free Application For Student Aid) every year you attend school.  Not filling it out one year can make it harder to get financial aid the following year.  This form is also mandatory to get Federal Student Loans.
  • CSS/Financial Aid Profile – This application from The College Board allows you to apply for non-Federal financial aid.
  • Top 10 Financial Aid Tips – This resource from Scholarship.com is the best resource I’ve found for getting financial aid for school.  They have many of the traditional tips, but also some out-of-the-box tips as well.
  • Know Your Expected Family Contribution – US News and World Reports looks at how you can know your Expected Family Contribution, which determines how much financial aid you may be able to qualify for.  If you’re looking into financial aid, this is a great tool.
  • What Can You Do If Your Parents Refuse To Pay for College – FinAid has an excellent article on what you can do if your parents refuse to help you pay for college, and what your options might be.
  • The Best Order Of Operations To Pay For College – If you don’t know the right way to pay for college, check out this guide to figuring out the best student loans and other options to pay for college.
  • What If I Can’t Afford College – This is a great article on the myths of not being able to afford college, and the options that individuals in that situation have to get to the school of their choice.
  • Does Soaring Tuition Matter – This is a great look at the rising cost of education, and the potential return on your investment.  A must read for anyone who cares about the cost of education.
  • The Financial Aid Pyramid – Not all financial aid is created equal. Use this guide to understand the
  • What To Do If You Can’t Afford Your Tuition Payment – If you run into a situation where you can’t pay your tuition payment, College Express has some tips that can help you stay in school while you sort out the finances.
  • Ask Your Financial Aid Question – Check out our Forum and ask a question about financial aid options!

Student Loan Tips For College Freshmen

The fact of life is that most college Freshmen will either have student loans or will need to get them before they graduate.  Here are some essential resources for college students when it comes to dealing with student loans.

Personal Finance

College may be the first time that you may have to deal with personal finance issues on your own.  You’ll have to budget, you’ll encounter sales people chucking credit card offers your way, and you’ll have to navigate the financial world on your own.  Here are some simple tips for college Freshmen when it comes to handling personal finance topics.

  • The Best Automatic Savings Apps – If you want to easily save money while you’re on the move, check out these automatic savings apps to make saving money easy.
  • The Best Online Banks For College Students – Having a bank that works for you while you’re traveling to school and home is important. You need mobile banking, easy access to your accounts, and more. Check out these options.
  • Best Car Insurance Options For College Students – College students have unique needs when it comes to car insurance. Specifically, they don’t drive much and may not even own a car. Check out these great options. 
  • The Best Credit Cards For College Students – Here’s our guide to the best credit cards for college students. Spend wisely!
  • 40 Money Tips for College Students – Jim over at Wallet Hacks has a great list of money tips for college students, but the biggest tip is the first tip.  Check it out!
  • How a Frat Party Can Teach You Personal Finance – Everything in life has lessons, and looking at the fun times you’re going to have at college parties can definitely teach you more than just how to feel better the next morning.
  • 70 Super Easy and Practical Ways to Save Money – We all want to make saving money easy, and Jeff Rose from Good Financial Cents has some amazingly simple tips that college students can use right now.
  • 10 Tricks to Get Cheaper Textbooks – Textbook costs are what really get you in college, especially since you typically only use that $100+ book for a single class.  Here is a great resource from Free From Broke on how to get cheaper textbooks.
  • 5 Money Tips For The Above Average College Graduate – If you want to propel yourself into the 1%, check out these tips to make the most of your college career.
  • 150+ Discounts For Students – College students are on a budget, so here are over 150 deals and discounts that college students can take advantage of.
  • The Best Discounts for College Students – Many stores offer special programs for students, and college students are poised to take advantage of these programs.  If you want savings, check out this list from the Christian Science Monitor and find the best discounts on stuff you’re going to buy anyway.
  • Stores Offering Discounts for College Students – Another great list from Brad’s Deals of stores that offer discounts to college students.  This list also highlights places that give discounts by showing student IDs.
  • Textbook Rental Comparison Tool – Renting your college textbooks is the best way to go when it comes to saving money. Check out this tool and see where you can find the best rates for textbook rentals.

Investing

The key to wealth is saving and investing.  And to gain even more wealth, you should start as early as possible.  Here are some simple tips and resources for college students to start investing, even with just a little bit of money.

Dorm Life

Dorm life is a completely new experience for college freshmen.  It’s a huge change from living at home, and it opens up a ton of new experiences.  Here are some simple guides to making the most of dorm life for your first time away from home for a long period of time.

  • Dorm Room Checklist – Every store and shop has a different dorm room checklist, but I like this dorm room checklist from Dorm Smart to make sure you bring everything you need to college.
  • Reality Check: I Wasn’t Prepared For College  – I’ve personally been there: the stress, the unexpected.  This is a great article to reassure those who don’t think they were prepared.
  • Avoiding Craigslist Scams – I think college was the first time in my life I was ever swindled, and it happens to a lot of people.  Make sure that you read this list on avoiding Craigslist scams, since most college student rely on Craigslist to buy and sell their stuff.
  • How to Live Alone Without Going Broke – College life and living alone can be expensive, so you have to know some tips and tricks on living alone before you go away to school.
  • Why Costco is Great for College Students – You need a deal in college, and Costco is the place for college students to stock up their dorm and do it on a budget.
  • Rules to Know For Splitting Rent with Roommates – Chances are, you’re going to have roommates in college, and even after college.  Here are some great rules to live by from the BankRate team.
  • 6 Survival Tips for Living in a Suite – Many Freshman will have to live in a suite dorm, meaning more than just a single roommate.  Here are six amazing tips from Campus Explorer to help you adjust.
  • Meal Planning 101 – Figuring out how to leverage the best meal plan vs. going out with friends is tough.  Hack College shares some great tips on how to maximize the college meal plan.
  • How to Choose the Right Meal Plan – My College Guide shares some secrets to picking the right meal plan for your tastes and diet.  Since many colleges give multiple meal plan choices, here is a great tool to help you choose the right meal plan.
  • Five Tips for Getting to Know Your College Roommate – Your first few weeks of college are made or broken by your relationship with your roommate.  Here are some great tips from Teen Vogue on how to get to know your roommate so you can enjoy your college dorm experience.
  • The Basics of College Roommates – The College Board has a great video interview that shares the basics of getting to know your roommate and how to set rules to be successful.
  • 10 Reasons Why You Should Study Abroad – Studying abroad is a great way to further your education and learn about other cultures, and here are 10 reasons you should consider it.
  • Tips, Tricks, and Advice for Studying Abroad – The Intern Queen has some amazing tips and tricks for studying abroad that you should bookmark for the future when the time comes to make the trek across the pond.
  • Amazon Student Is A Must Have For College Students – Did you know that Amazon Prime makes a college student version that’s 50% cheaper! Learn more here.

College and Careers

The whole point of college is to set yourself up for a successful future career.  As such, you need to take certain steps while you’re at college to get on the right track.  Here are some essential career resources for college students to get an internship and eventually get a real job upon graduation.

Love Life

College is also a time for you to experience your love life in a way that you’ve probably never done it before.  As the first two articles below share – you must date in college or else…  Here are some fun quick tips for making the most of your college love life.

Dealing With Parents

Once you head off to college, the dynamics with your parents change forever.  You’re now an adult, and they now have less and less control over your life.  It can be a hard and awkward transition, and these tips can help you navigate the path towards a real adult relationship with your parents.

Prepping for the Future

Finally, even though you’re a college freshmen, it never hurts to start looking towards the future.  Here are some simple steps you can take when you start college to make the most of your future – even if it just inspires you and gives you motivation to succeed.

What  are some other essential resources and tips for college freshmen heading to college this fall?

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