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student life

Adulting Student Life

Tips to Save Time in College

April 20, 2021

Going to college is all about learning new things and expanding our horizons toward new opportunities. Many college students falter in the early semesters because they don’t have a plan of action to help them transition from a child’s world to a grown-up world. You can waste a lot of time in college if you don’t approach it with the right frame of mind. And wasting time in college generally equals wasting money.

Learn How to Send Email

One of the most grown-up things you can learn in college is how to send an email. You may have gotten through high school sending emoji-filled texts, but that’s not going to fly when you get into your 20s. If you’re interested in getting internships or applying for work-study programs, you need to be able to craft an email that makes you sound intelligent. In other words, check your spelling, watch your format and use capital letters found in standard English. Take a tip from a successfully written sales email and learn how to stick to the point and send emails at a time when they’re likely to be noticed, i.e., not at 2 AM. If you are sending emails in the late night hours, Gmail and other email platforms typically have a feature to schedule them for later.

Keep Up With Paperwork

Another big time-waster is hunting for lost paperwork. Create a clearly labeled filing system to keep track of your most important papers. This can include course syllabi, university programs you’re interested in, car maintenance and health care records and membership cards. Papers that get lost most often are the ones that you don’t need all the time. It costs you time to have to hunt through piles of paperwork, and it will sometimes cost you money to replace what you’ve lost. The sooner you get organized, the quicker you can find what you need and move on to another activity. 

Create a Routine

Every semester in college will probably look different from the one before it. The college years are a great time to learn about flexibility. However, within each semester, it’s important to create a routine, even if it changes every couple of months. Add your classes to a calendar and then start looking for chunks of time to mark off for studying and whatever else you need to do such as working or exercising. If you don’t have it written into your calendar, you are more likely to view it as free time. Too much free time can lead to too little study time. Poor grades might mean you have to retake a class. In other words, by wasting time, you’ve wasted money. 

Get Help

If you’re struggling with a particular class or concept in college, don’t spend too much time trying to figure it out on your own. By the time you understand, it may be too late to save your grade. It’s far better to seek help early either with a private tutor or through your university. If it’s early in the term or semester, you can probably drop the class without penalty or losing money, to take it at a later time or another class altogether. Many campuses offer writing centers or low-cost math and science tutors. Don’t be shy or too prideful to ask for help! Use what’s available to give yourself an advantage before you have to play catch-up.

There is much to learn when you go to college. There is plenty of content knowledge you will need for your post-graduation job, but there are also basic time-management skills that will be invaluable to know for your future. 

BIO: Brett Clawson has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Other

5 Ways for Students to Help the Environment

April 10, 2021

Environmental justice is a topic that’s on the mind of a lot of students these days. It can feel discouraging to hear about a problem that is so big and out of control like climate change. But there are some simple ways to make a difference!

Here are few things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.

Calculate your impact

It’s helpful to be more aware of the impact of your lifestyle. Check out Conservation International’s Carbon Footprint ​Calculator​! Start thinking about how you can drive less, carpool more, and opt for greener alternatives when possible.

Recycle

Recycling is a great way to be more aware of your consumption. It’s important to be aware of ​proper recycling etiquette​ to ensure you are recycling what you are supposed to. For most cities, contaminated recyclables often end up costing a lot more money to dispose of versus if they were clean. So make sure you rinse that pizza box out before throwing it in the blue bin, and tossing out your bottled drinks without the liquid!

Eat more plant-based

One of the biggest differences you can make for the environment is ​consuming fewer animal products​. You don’t have to go completely vegan to have a positive impact! Try Meatless Mondays or experiment with veganizing one of your favorite meals. Plus, many fast food joints offer Impossible burger options these days to make it easy to eat plant-based on the go.

Thrift

Thrifting is a fun way to limit your consumption and contribution to fast fashion. Check out our ​College Student’s Guide to Thrift Shopping​ for some tips on how to start shopping second-hand. You can also thrift furniture!

Reuse

Try to limit your use of single-use plastics. Invest in quality reusable items such as water bottles and shopping bags. If you do end up with plastic bags from the store, repurpose them as trash bags or for pet waste cleanup.

These are just a few ideas to help you be more environmentally friendly. Take some time to educate yourself on how you can be a more ethical consumer and continue to make lifestyle changes that contribute to a more sustainable future!

Adulting Career Student Life

3 Ways to Balance Work and Study

April 6, 2021

You’ve probably always had a certain subject that fascinated you. In your free time, you may find yourself reading about new innovations and insights in the field. You constantly have ideas on the topic that start with, “It would be so cool if they…” 

Sound familiar?

The only downside is that your field of interest has zero to do with your current job. 

It may be a great time to take the leap, study your chosen subject, and get a degree or certification that would allow you to channel that passion into a career that inspires you every day.

Studying and working simultaneously can be a daunting endeavor. But it can be done! Some sacrifices and strict budgeting will be required, but only for a finite period of time. 

Here are three tips for how to make the most of your schedule when balancing work and study:

Maximize your available “ear time.”

There are more times during the day than you realize when your hands may be busy doing something, but your ears are available to study. This is why it’s a great idea to get assigned reading in an audio version if available. 

Record all of your lectures and corresponding notes that you take yourself. You can even create “audio flashcards.” Record a question or definition and leave a few beats of silence for you to drill your responses as you listen.These recordings can be used when you’re driving, working out, cleaning, cooking, getting ready, waiting in line, etc. 

Also, be sure to take advantage of the time immediately before bed. Our brains retain information that we consume right before bed the most clearly into the next day. Wake up and refresh the information as you get ready, and you will have successfully “locked it in.” 

Another great idea is to use repetition immediately after hearing a lecture. Take several minutes to go over the notes you just took and “teach” them to yourself out loud as if you were the professor. This will solidify connections between ideas and make them far easier to remember in the long run. 

All of this will help the information you’re learning to become information that you know. Which means you won’t have to desperately cram before a test. Instead, you’ll be refreshing thought connections that have already been solidified with personalized associations.

Break apart your workload into bite-sized pieces.

A great method for managing your study load is to chop up your reading and studying into smaller goals for each study session available over a given period of time.

For example, you’ve been given a 50-page reading assignment due in five days. First, determine the available time you have outside of work and family obligations. If you have four hours over the course of five days, you can estimate your target per-hour page rate. For that particular week, it is 12 and a half pages an hour. And, depending on how long your time blocks are, you will divide your page goal accordingly. So if you have 15 minutes while you’re waiting for something to cook, try to read about three pages.

Breaking up your reading and studying into smaller, more manageable chunks will help you avoid the stress of trying to find huge blocks of time to complete larger assignments. And preplanning the proportions helps alleviate the constant, “I have so much to do!” feeling. You can relax a little, knowing that as long as you successfully accomplish each predetermined portion in the schedule you created with your free time, you will reach your target goal for the overall assignment. 

Take advantage of vacation days.

This tip is likely not a crowd favorite. When taking on the added workload of balancing a job and study, sacrifice will be needed on some level. The things you should not sacrifice entirely are as follows: sleep, exercise, meals, hygiene, your job, and at least some quality time with family and friends. 

But the things that you will need to be willing to sacrifice are watching TV, viewing social media, partying, and sadly, vacations. You will still be utilizing your vacation days but as brief rest days and pre-test or presentation prep days. 

When you get your syllabus, mark out when events like this are happening and put in your request to use a vacation day for the day before well in advance. This will allow you a dedicated chuck of time to refresh everything you’ve learned and finalize any preparations you may need.

A major benefit to this: it will decrease your anxiety leading into a test or presentation day. Increased anxiety will only undermine your performance, so take that vacation day to prep and gather focus.

Throughout your time as a working student, have your “why” handy. Write a mission statement for yourself beforehand and read it whenever you feel a bit like tearing your hair out. Writing down your “why” will also help you understand where this motivation to study and shift gears is emanating. If at first, your “why” is only “to make more money,” you may want to do more research into careers that can make you more money but also genuinely interest you. 

When you read your “why,” you want it to touch something deeply motivating and energizing within you. Once you have that, it can act as a pair of jumper cables when you feel depleted and fuel you as you master the balance between work and study.

BIO: Kristie Santana is a life coach based in New York City. She is the founder of the National Coach Academy and co-founder of Life Coach Path. Her mission is to help prepare aspiring coaches for a thriving career doing the work they love.

Career Transition

3 Ways to Gain Experience That Will Land You a Job After College Graduation

April 1, 2021

If you head to college right after high school graduation, your focus for the next 4+ years probably isn’t going to be climbing the corporate ladder. Granted, you’ll work toward a major and learn how to do a specific job.

But, that doesn’t mean a career will be available to you immediately after graduation. College can offer a degree, but you’ll enter the working world with “entry-level” experience, which many employers don’t want.

So, what can you do to gain experience while you’re in school so you can kick off your career right away?

Immerse Yourself in the Collegiate Experience

One of the best ways to gain experience and get advice is to take advantage of all the services your college has to offer. Develop a close relationship with student services. It’s their job to not only get you through your collegiate career but help you prepare for the “real world.” They can assist you when it comes to things like resume writing so your job applications will pass things like automated applicant tracking systems.

Student services can also help with:

  • Campus life and extra activities
  • Mental and physical wellness
  • Diversity on campus
  • Alumni relations

Those functions can all help you gain more experience for a future job. Getting involved with activities and clubs on campus can help you gain experience in teamwork or leadership without having to work in an actual “job.” Plus, those who work in student services might be able to connect you with alumni in the industry you’re interested in.

Whether you’re getting your degree online or in-person, reach out to student services in an email or give them a call. Student services should be available to the entire student body.

Take a Part-Time Job

Many college students end up working part-time jobs to help pay for tuition, food, or off-campus housing. But, the right part-time job can actually be a great way to network. Having an internship in college is helpful, especially if it’s in the industry you’re interested in. But, internships don’t usually pay, and you may not get the hands-on experience you need if you’re just getting people coffee.

So, while there’s nothing wrong with waiting tables or working retail, try looking for a part-time job that will allow you to hone in on the skills you’ll need for a long-term career. That could include working in an office, or even starting your own freelancing business on the side for writing, graphic design, or any other useful skill you want to grow. You could even start your own online business as a side hustle. 

Even if you haven’t decided on your major, holding down any part-time job will let future employers know that you’re responsible and able to stick to a schedule, so it looks good on a resume.

Get Involved Locally

If you don’t want to work in college, consider volunteering either on campus or in the local community. While it won’t show up as work experience on a resume, sometimes life experience is more appealing to employers. Getting involved with an organization that matters to you will give you hands-on experience.

You’ll grow skills like:

  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Organization
  • Patience

Adding these skills and your volunteer experience to your resume could be extremely beneficial, so don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.

Landing a job after graduation isn’t just about having experience in a particular industry. It’s about having well-rounded skills and knowing how to market them. Keep these tips in mind to get the job you want after graduation, rather than sending out dozens of applications with nothing in return.

BIO: Sam Bowman has a passion for learning. As a seasoned professional writer, he specializes in topics about people, education, tech and how they merge. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.

Student Life

Tips for Staying Focused in Your Virtual Classes

March 30, 2021

Virtual classes can be seriously draining. It’s easy to drift off and become distracted during a virtual lecture.

With the option to turn your camera off, sometimes you can even forget you’re even in class! Here are some tips for maintaining focus.

Keep that camera on!

It can be so tempting to turn your camera off when other students are but keeping your camera on is a great way to stay accountable and engaged in class.

Ask questions

Participating in class is a good way to feel more connected to the online school experience. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in class because you are likely not the only one feeling the same confusion. Your participation might even encourage others to do the same!

Take notes

Even if your professor posts their lecture slides online, it can be helpful to take notes in order to stay focused on the material. Boost your muscle memory by taking notes by hand, or type them if you’re in a pinch and don’t have a pen and paper handy.

Utilize office hours

Visiting your professor during office hours is a great way to make connections amidst a socially distanced time and to get further help with your class material. This is extra important if you’re in a large lecture full of hundreds of other students. Check with your professor to see when they are providing virtual office hours.

Be mindful of your environment

It’s a lot easier to stay focused when you are in a calm environment. If possible, try to find a quiet, comfortable spot to take your classes. This doesn’t mean your couch or bed! You can also try to communicate with others in your household that you need to be uninterrupted for certain hours of the day.

Good luck in your virtual classes and make sure to check out more of our ​articles​ for advice on navigating college life in the era of COVID-19.

Adulting Student Life Transition

6 Common Money Mistakes New College Grads Make

March 25, 2021

College graduation is a time of celebration for students and a jumping-off point for the next chapter of life. It’s a time to make important decisions, whether you’re continuing your education with a higher degree, starting your career, or taking a moment to regroup.

But it’s not the time for making poor financial choices. Here are a few common money mistakes recent grads make and how to avoid them.

1. Thinking retirement is too far off to start saving

Retirement may be years away, but it’s better to start saving for retirement as early as possible. The earlier you start saving, the more time your investments have to grow. As you add money to your retirement fund, interest also starts to accrue. Over time, you start earning interest on the interest you’ve earned. This is called compound interest, and it’s a powerful savings tool. The earlier you start saving and earning compound interest, the better.

2. Missing student loan payments

Right after graduation is the time to focus on your financial future, which includes keeping up with student loan payments. This will help ensure you continue to build a positive credit history and possibly improve your credit score. A positive payment history and healthy credit score could open up more money-saving financial opportunities down the road, such as lower interest rates on an auto or home loan.

3. Overspending that new paycheck

If you have a new job in your chosen career field, you could be making more money than ever. But before you go spending your paycheck on the luxury items you’ve always wanted, consider the impact these purchases will have on your budget.

Necessary expenses — like rent, utilities, and groceries — should come first. Less obvious but important expenses like building an emergency fund or having enough for auto insurance coverage should also be considered before splurging on “wants” versus “needs.”

4. Banking where your parents do

The bank your parents use (and now you probably use) is likely a suitable location for storing money in FDIC-insured accounts. It’s not a bad thing to have access to brick-and-mortar locations, but most traditional bank accounts can’t compete with the benefits of online banking.

Making the switch to an online bank could help you earn more interest, avoid unnecessary fees, and still have FDIC insurance. In addition, your current bank might not offer other perks that come with the best checking accounts, like getting your paycheck early or having easy access to your money through a mobile app.

5. Misusing credit cards

Credit cards can be a helpful tool for building credit and having cash flow when you need it, but using them irresponsibly can offset their benefits.

Keep in mind that building your credit history and improving your credit score means following some accepted best practices. This typically includes making your payments on time, using less than 30% of your available credit line, keeping your oldest credit accounts open, having different types of credit accounts (for example a credit card and an auto loan), and not opening too many credit cards too quickly in a row.

6. Skipping renters insurance

Whether you’re back studying on campus or off to live on your own, renters insurance can offer you essential financial protection. This type of insurance can include coverage for clothing, laptops, bicycles, and other belongings in case of unexpected events like vandalism, theft, or fire.

If you keep these six tips in mind, you could avoid some of the common money mistakes that recent college grads make. This will help you take proactive steps to secure your financial future.

BIO: FinanceBuzz’sVP of Content, Tracy Odell, also held the same position at Student Loan Hero and has expertise in this subject, as well as all things related to college finances.

Student Life

8 DIY Dorm Room Storage Tips for College Students

March 23, 2021

Dorm rooms are notorious for being small, crowded, and in most cases, outdated. To make matters worse, you either end up sharing a dorm room with a complete stranger or living in close quarters with no break from a friend. Dorm life can be stressful! Add clutter into the mix and it’s a recipe for frustration, anxiety, and an overstimulating environment. Most dorm rooms are equipped with a bed, desk, and dresser for each inhabitant, but have minimal open floor space no matter how you lay the room out.

The good news is that there are ways to make your dorm room a more comfortable, livable space by increasing storage and reducing clutter. Here are the top DIYs to keep things neat and tidy in your dorm.

1. Add Shelving: In a dorm room, shelves are your best friend! While many dorms have restrictions on what can and cannot be installed on the walls, there are shelving options you can purchase or DIY that are made to sit on your dorm desk. They are raised enough to not infringe on your workspace while still offering convenient access to things you may need, like books and chargers. Plus, if you have a cat, they’ll love this idea too. Cats always need a space up high to rest and observe.

2. Make Use of Underbed Space: The beds in dorm rooms are usually relatively small and lightweight, making them good candidates for being set onto risers. The higher your bed, the more storage space you open for yourself underneath. The options for shelves, baskets, and tables that can comfortably sit underneath a dorm bed on risers are virtually unlimited.

3. Don’t Waste Door Space: The back of your dorm room door and closet door are perfect spots to add more storage for bulky items, like shoes, and small items, like jewelry and makeup. Over-door storage bags are available with all kinds of different shapes and sizes of cubbies and pouches. There are even shower curtains with storage pockets that you could DIY into back of door storage.

4. Baskets: You can find baskets in all sizes and materials, with some being cute and made to be seen, while others are better kept put away. You can even purchase plain baskets or “ugly” baskets and DIY them into something that suits your aesthetic. Regardless of the kind of basket you choose, you can use baskets for just about anything. Dirty laundry, food, school supplies, and hygiene supplies can all be kept in baskets, making for easy access without adding clutter. 

5. Get a Rolling Cart: Rolling carts make great dorm room storage additions because you can use them to keep just about anything out of the way and off the floor, but you can easily scoot them out of the way to access other areas anytime you need to. Hardware stores carry wheels you can attach to furniture items, so you can even DIY your own rolling carts with baskets or shelves.

6. Use Magnets: Magnets are an inexpensive, accessible storage solution. You can attach magnets to just about anything and then store the magnetized items on metallic surfaces. You can use this trick for spices, hygiene supplies, towel hooks, and most lightweight items. If you have a large enough metallic surface, you can even attach magnets to a basket and make use of the storage potential of the exterior of a dorm refrigerator.

7. Pegboards: While pegboards may not be the most attractive items, they are an excellent space-saving solution and can be more chic than you might think. Pegboard hooks can be rearranged to allow space for even oddly shaped or sized items. A pegboard can be rearranged at will to meet your current storage needs, whether you changed to new products or the seasons changed. Pegboards are often lightweight enough to be mounted with sticky strips or magnets, so they can be used for storage in open wall space.

8. Eliminate Excess: You can open up dorm space by doing something as simple as getting rid of items you don’t use or need. Have you moved from your summer wardrobe to your winter wardrobe? See if you can store your warm weather clothes with a family member or friend. Maybe it’s a new semester and you don’t need all your textbooks anymore. Look into textbook buyback programs, selling your textbooks online, or offer them to a friend or underclassman who is entering the course you just completed. Anything you can do to clean up items that do nothing but take up space will help you make your dorm more comfortable.

Conclusion

DIY projects are a great way to make your dorm room your own creation and to unwind after long hours of schoolwork. DIY dorm room storage won’t just add to your aesthetic, either. Increasing storage in your dorm room will improve your mood, decrease your frustration and anxiety, and help you have more pleasant interactions with people, especially your roommate. 

Dorm living and college are both stressful enough on their own. A dirty, cluttered, chaotic environment will only increase your stress levels. Imagine how much more relaxed you’ll feel by having an open workspace for studying or enough open floor space to practice yoga or meditation. And of course, don’t forget to protect all of your stuff from the unexpected with renters insurance!

Safety

Cybersecurity Measures to Take as a Remote College Student

March 16, 2021

Remote learning has become the norm for many college students all over the country. It was already growing in popularity over the last several years. But, the COVID-19 pandemic created a boom in remote learning to keep everyone safe.

Moving into a post-pandemic world, remote learning is here to stay for some. It’s extremely beneficial for those who need a flexible schedule or anyone who might be looking for a more affordable way to attend college.

But, for all of the benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks and risks. One of the biggest concerns for remote college students should be cybersecurity and knowing how to keep yourself safe online. While you might not have to deal with things like on-campus crime, cyber criminals can do just as much damage with your personal information.

Here’s what you can do to protect yourself from cybercrime as a remote college student.

Understand the Risks

Any time you submit personal information online, it can be a risk. Educate yourself ahead of time on your college’s cybersecurity program(s) and privacy policies.

A school’s cybersecurity priorities should include:

  • Network monitoring
  • Data monitoring
  • Protective controls
  • Network segmentation
  • Password management
  • Vulnerability scanning

If your college is offering remote learning opportunities, they should be upfront about the security measures they have in place. Their IT department should be available to work with you as often as possible, and it should be easily accessible.

You should also put some measures in place at home to keep yourself as safe as possible, especially if you’re giving out financial or medical information. Invest in security measures that medical services use, like antivirus software, and make sure you never give personal information to any school website that isn’t secure.

Keep Yourself Safe – Wherever You Are

One of the perks of being a remote student is that you can take classes anywhere. But, when you’re off-campus, you might not have a strong cybersecurity system in place to keep you safe from threats. It’s important to know what to look out for when it comes to those threats, so you can reduce your risk of an attack.

Some of the most common cyber threats are:

  • Phishing emails
  • Denial of service
  • Malware programs

It’s also important to be aware of “man-in-the-middle” attacks. These occur when a perpetrator steps into a digital conversation, usually when you’re trying to get help. For example, if you’re having problems with a software program or website, you might see a chatbot pop up. A perpetrator can pose as someone offering to help you, but their main goal is to steal information. Be aware of red flags asking for too much information or things that aren’t relevant to the conversation.

Educating yourself on these threats (and others) can keep you from becoming a victim of viruses or having your personal information stolen.

The risk of cybersecurity threats shouldn’t keep you from taking college courses online. But, knowing that the risks are out there and how you can keep yourself safe from them is a crucial component in the success of your remote learning process.

BIO: Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture.

Transition

Undecided on a College Major? How to Not Waste Your Money

March 12, 2021

So you’re almost ready for college – right? Are you still trying to decide on a major? If you don’t know what to major in yet, how can you be certain the money you invest in your education is well spent?

Find Yourself With a Gap Year

A gap year is a semester or a year of experiential learning, typically taken after high school and before starting college or a career. This idea is growing in popularity as more students take this intentional time to learn independent living skills, develop their interests, or experience a new culture.

Why take a gap year? Instead of spending time and money in college while you’re still undecided, you can find out what you’re good at and what work you’d like to pursue while spending a whole lot less (or even earning money.) Gap year students gain skills and experiences that look good on a college application and can help them get more out of their education.

Be OK With Not Knowing What Comes Next

College is a big investment that should not be decided impulsively. The belief that you need to have this all figured out by the time you leave high school can be a source of great stress, which can lead to poorly thought out decisions.

It’s not necessary to know your major when you enter college. However, it isn’t wise to pay expensive tuition or to acquire debt for a path you don’t feel certain about. If you want to explore a particular area of study while you decide on a major, there are lower-cost options such as auditing classes online for free, or taking prerequisite courses in your field at a community college or a state college where tuition is generally lower.

Consider Your Options

While considering a college major, take a realistic look at the time and money you can expect to spend in college before graduating and starting a career. What level of degree will you need to get the type of job you desire? Will you need to complete internships, a residency, or board exams? Is it expected, if not required, for you to get your masters degree? How much can you anticipate being paid, at entry level? These are important considerations that can help you develop a solid plan to avoid leaving college with unpayable debt.

When you understand the investment you will need to pursue your chosen path, you are better positioned to find support, such as scholarships and grants. If you do choose to take on a college loan, you will do so with a realistic plan for how and when you will pay it back.

Be Aware of Your Priorities

Not everyone leaving high school has a clear vision for where they will be in five years. Are you more interested in meeting people and exploring life as a young adult than you are in your studies? If you’re honest about that, you can avoid spending all your money on one priority and all your time on another.

Finally, be aware that your priorities may change by the time you leave college. If you imagine a home, a family, travel, or hobbies in your future, consider how these priorities may affect your financial and career choices. Above all, college is an investment in who you are and who you’d like to become. Invest wisely, and enjoy this time.

BIO: Brett Clawson has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Adulting Student Life

Learning to Drive in College

March 10, 2021

There is really isn’t a perfect time to learn how to drive. While it may be common for people to get their driver’s license in high school, for some, it may not be the right moment. Furthermore, accessibility plays a major role in learning how to drive at a young age. Not having a car or lack of affordable lessons can be just a few reasons why someone might not learn to drive before heading off to college.

With that being said, there are a number of benefits to learning how to drive — especially for the average busy college student. It can provide a greater sense of independence and open the door to new adventures, as just a few examples. It can also make commuting between classes, internships, and extra-curriculum activities a bit easier, especially if your current city or school campus lack public transportation services.

Whether you’re about to graduate or just starting your freshman year, learning to drive in college doesn’t have to be intimidating or daunting.

Let’s Be Crystal Clear

There’s a lot to look forward to once you learn how to drive, but before that happens it’s important to do a bit of housekeeping first. Ahead of setting up driving classes or arranging a testing appointment, it’s worth getting your eyes checked.

Your vision needs to meet a certain standard before you’re allowed to hit the roads. Of course, finding a convenient eye doctor while in college isn’t always the easiest or most affordable. Luckily, there are eyewear services that allow you to try certain eye prescriptions and accessories at home. Having slightly blurry vision might not be a huge problem while in class or walking around, but it’s extremely dangerous as a driver. Make sure your vision is crystal clear before getting behind the wheel, even if that means investing in a new pair of glasses.

Get Ahead of Traffic

There are a number of surprises and challenges drivers can encounter on any given day. However, one thing that is not at all surprising to the average seasoned driver is traffic. Depending on the city where you attend school, traffic congestion could be a major factor you need to keep in mind while driving. Researching things like your college town’s local traffic patterns can help you learn more about what roads are best to avoid at what times. It’s also essential to study high-traffic rules and other safe driving practices to ensure the safety of yourself and other drivers. It’s a lot easier to manage things like sudden speed reductions, lane merging, and aggressive rush-hour drivers if you know what to expect beforehand. 

Start With Familiar Places

Like with most things in life, practice can help improve your confidence, but particularly as a new driver. Considering that driving is often much more than pressing your foot on the accelerator, a great way to build up your driving skills is with short and familiar routes. Whether that’s to a nearby park or to the bodega down the road, you can build up your driving skills, improve your reflexes, and work on your weakness without the pressure of navigating a new area.

Even though we’ve agreed there’s no right or wrong time to learn how to drive, there can still be some anxieties surrounding learning to drive at an older age. You can feel judged or embarrassed about not having a driver’s license yet, but don’t let those feelings stand in the way of your goals. Good luck!

BIO: Sam Bowman has a passion for learning. As a seasoned professional writer, he specializes in topics about people, education, tech and how they merge. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.