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It’s a new semester and, with that, a new time to shine – or at least try not to burn out. The editors  at Her Campus American are here to help you navigate the tricky world of TDR and midterms. Here are the college hacks and tips we use to make the whole college thing a little less stressful!


Fiona Caufield

1.  Use Course Reserves

A surprising number of textbooks are available on reserve in the library, which makes it a lot less expensive to stay on top of reading assignments. It also lightens the load when carrying a backpack.

2. Remember Not Every Year Is the Same

At the end of an amazing freshman year, I thought the next three years would be the same. When sophomore year started I was a bit shocked: it was difficult to stay in touch with friends from my floor who I used to bump into every day, I had more difficult, major-focused classes than general education courses, and it just felt different. At first I was disappointed, thinking that the honeymoon phase of college was over. But then I realized that I couldn’t change it – nor did I want to. The friendships I kept and the new ones I made had a depth and comfort that I hadn’t experienced until that point. The harder classes were also more detailed and fascinating. I began to explore the city more and discover D.C.’s secrets. Realizing how strong the force of change is encourages me to savor every moment.

3. Ditch the Meal Plan

Meal plans are convenient, especially while living on campus. But with very little extra effort, it’s easy to have a much wider variety of foods at a similar or lower cost. Making food from scratch can be much less expensive than buying it, and although it takes a bit of organization, a home cooked meal is well worth it. Quicker options abound: for the value of a meal swipe, (around $10), you can get a meal from Chipotle, Cava, Sweetgreen, District Taco, or any other fast-casual restaurant. And, if you’re on campus with friends who are going to TDR, or feel a sudden craving for tavern tenders, you can still spend real money (*gasp*) on campus dining options.


Shannon Exley

1. Cop That Seat by the Electrical Outlet in Class

Let’s face it, the likelihood that I planned ahead and charged my computer before class is pretty low.  Don’t waste your time writing out your notes in class – just grab the seat closest to an electrical outlet and get back to typing!  


2. The Career Center

So, first I have to start with the disclaimer that I went to the career center explaining that I had no idea what a CV was and how it was different from a resume.  After my appointment with an adviser, I came away with a thoroughly marked up resume and a better sense of the 110 things that were wrong with my resume and how to incorporate my qualifications into a CV.


3. Couches on the 3rd Floor of the Library

Like most college students, I’m tired for most of the day.  And as a Division I athlete, some part of my body is pretty much always sore.  So, instead of studying in library cubicles, I often retreat to the ol’ reliable couches in the library on the 3rd floor.  I find it a great place to get some reading done and stay comfortable while you’re doing it! 



Lauren Clemence

1. Download the App TinyScanner

..or any other smartphone scanning app. You’ll never have to use a physical scanner ever again and it helps get your assignments done that much faster!

2. Get up in the Morning by Scheduling Yourself 

If you know you’ll have to study or do homework on the weekends but don’t *trust* yourself enough to have the motivation to get out of bed early and get productive, schedule something in the morning that you can’t miss. It could be as simple as scheduling breakfast with a friend, or even signing up for a workout class that is in the morning. Sometimes you need that extra little push to get your day started.

3. Go to Office Hours

Actually go to professors’ office hours…you’d be surprised how helpful it can be. Professors can help you understand something you might be struggling with, give you career advice, and eventually turn out to be a great asset on campus!


Tori Dickson

1. Get off Campus to Study

Sometimes AU can act more like a bubble than a college campus. A lot of times it seems we have all we need here: food, study space, outlets. However, finding your way off campus once in a while can give you a new perspective. When I move off campus, I find myself more inspired and that paper that’s been bugging me or that test I can’t seem to sit down and take notes for suddenly becomes more manageable. Whether it’s hanging out at Tryst or sitting by the National Mall, try to get out there!

2. Join AU’s Free and For Sale Facebook Group

In college, we often make do with what we have. Free & For Sale is a great resource for finding what you need for cheap: from mini fridges to shoes. You can also sell some of your stuff on there and make some extra cash to feed into your excessive shopping habits.


3. Don’t Read What You Don’t Have to

This isn’t me saying never read the assigned chapters for every class – because you definitely should know what you’re getting into before class starts. However, you don’t need to read every word and a lot of times skimming is all you need to thrive in class discussions. If you’re having a busy night and you have to fight to keep your eyes open to get to the next page, chances are it’s not worth the effort. Most professors go over in detail what they want you to take out of the chapter during class discussions. Be aware of your professor’s preferred teaching style and learn how your class operates but, most of the time, you’ll find reading 100 pages a night isn’t necessary to succeed.

Photos: cover, 1 (property of authors), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

A senior and Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus at American who enjoys reading banned books and drinking overpriced coffee. 
Shannon is the former Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus American University. She is a Psychology major and is also a senior on the varsity swim team.
Lauren is currently a Junior at American University and is pursuing a degree in Business Administration with a Finance specialization. As a previous communications student, Lauren is a long-time writer for Her Campus. She believes every student, no matter what major, can benefit from learning about business and finance. Her goal is to share some of the information she has learned as a business student to empower other young people to prepare for financial success. Lauren writes articles focused mainly on personal finance, business and career prep. 
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