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College Survival Guide: Tips, Tricks and Advice from a Graduating Senior  

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at OSU chapter.

It’s the day, the time of year, the turning point that felt so far away for so much of my life, which means it’s time to put together my college survival guide. Since I was a young girl, all I could dream of was being a big girl who made her own decisions. Now, as I officially take my first step into the true big girl world, I dream of being 13 again: when my parents cooked me dinner, drove me to basketball practice, sent me off to school in the morning and closed my bedroom door whilst saying “Sleep tight!” It’s a weird feeling. How am I already 22 years old, clinging on to each day before my college graduation?

Anna Schultz-Girl Sitting On Bed Facing Wall
Anna Schultz / Her Campus

When I started college in the Autumn of 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic, I was clueless as to how the next four years of my life would unfold. The fear of the unknown, the long nights studying, the girls’ nights and girls’ trips, the weekends we wished would last forever, the countless coffee runs and morning debriefs, the back-to-back waitressing shifts, studying abroad with 19 others whom I had never met, the endless hours spent on campus glued to my computer screen and every experience in between has undoubtedly shaped me into the woman I am today. With confidence, I can say that 18-year-old me could have never articulated what these past four years have held. 

So as I soak in the last week of my college career, I feel the sincere obligation to give advice to the girl whose shoes I was in just four short years ago.

Talk to everyone

Going to college can be so difficult when it means splitting off from your high school friends. But just as you did on your first day of kindergarten, introducing yourself and hanging out with strangers will help you create lifelong friendships. I still run into people I met during my first weekend in college, and I have found out that my current classmates lived in the same dorm as me during my freshman year. There are so many new people to meet in college, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to find your group of friends. 

Get Involved

This part was something I definitely missed out on as a freshman. With the pandemic, involvement fairs were canceled and it felt impossible to get involved on campus. But one day I was searching for student organizations and clubs that may interest me and I’m so glad I did. Campus involvement is a great way to make new friends, dedicate time to your passions beyond school and take a break from general schoolwork. These groups also have so many outside opportunities and connections that you may not have access to if you don’t get involved!

Stay organized

Whether it’s your Notes app, Google Calendar, Notion or a good old planner, make sure to find a way to keep all of your assignments, important dates, fun trips and everything with a date or deadline organized. This was vital to my success as a student. Not only does it just give you peace of mind, but you will always be on top of things and even able to get ahead when you know you have a busy week.

Create a routine…

Adjusting to college life can be pretty daunting which is why establishing a routine is great for keeping yourself sane. Whether it’s a morning walk with a friend, listening to music while making a cup of coffee, daily workouts or a weekly phone call to catch up with a long-distance friend, routines will help you to stay grounded and take breaks from chaotic schedules.

Find your favorite campus study spot

When I walk on campus, I recognize buildings I’ve never had classes in and rooms I’ve spent countless hours studying in. Each year I spent more time in a different spot. Finding your favorite library, study room or coffee shop is crucial because you know that you can always seek a specific place of comfort where you can visit to be productive. Maybe you go to the 11th floor of the library to study for big exams, the coffee shop near central campus to do homework with friends or the study rooms in the college of business for your meetings and big assignments. Trust me — you’ll find yours before you know it! 

Take advantage of school resources

School resources are incredibly abundant and often underused. Whether it’s connections to external organizations, panel events, opportunities for coffee chats with mentors, scholarship funds, counseling and career services or financial wellness courses, universities — especially state schools — have an overwhelming amount of support to give to students. While you often have to go out of your way to use them to their fullest potential, it’s worth every bit of effort! I was amazed by the scholarship opportunities at Ohio State. Without this resource, I would’ve never been able to achieve my dream of studying abroad!

Network with professors

So many students overlook the opportunity to build a relationship with their professors. I am so glad that I took the initiative to introduce myself to my professors because they have turned into lifelong connections and mentors. They have so much knowledge and experience and know so many other professionals; you never know what this relationship can open the door to. Get to know them while you can, and don’t be afraid to use office hours to just ask general career questions, school questions or advice in everyday life. Professors are more than happy to give you their time because they care about your success!

Take advantage of every opportunity

Girls’ weekends away, skipping yoga for happy hour and studying abroad are some of my favorite college memories. Even when the budget is tight, every single experience is worth it. Do whatever you can to make it all happen. You are young and have few responsibilities, so if you’re questioning the finances or the hangover, don’t! You’ll be so grateful you chose fun memories over comfort in the regular day-to-day.

Seek balance

In my personal college experience, I had to work a part-time job while going to school full-time, which doesn’t sound like a lot until you have to do it. Then try adding hanging out with friends, being involved on campus, working out, maintaining good grades and attending to your personal life on top of that. It can be overwhelming and exhausting and can sometimes feel like nobody understands what you’re putting yourself through. Remember to take time for yourself weekly if not daily. You would be surprised what a warm shower, reading a good book, cleaning your room, taking yourself to coffee or even just sitting in silence can do for your mental health. Prioritizing your peace in the chaos of a busy college life and agenda will do wonders for you in all areas of life!

Write a letter to your future self

Tucked away in the drawer of my desk is a letter sealed with the message “Dear Future Me, open on April 4, 2025. <3”. With tears during my final college business class, I wrote a letter to my future self as requested by one of my favorite professors. I couldn’t believe the end was near. This is the perfect chance to reflect, trace out goals and give yourself something to look forward to. I am so glad my professor had us do this. You can do it every month, every six months, every year, for five years from now, etc. It’s up to you, regardless of when; you should try it at least once!

As a 2020 high school graduate, this moment is bittersweet. While I reflect on my college experience, I am filled with gratitude, joy and excitement for what’s next. I hope you can hold onto one of these small pieces of advice in your own journey. Here’s to making the most of your college experience because like they say, the days are long but the years go by fast, so enjoy every second of it while you have it!

From my heart to yours, 


Hi! I am Kylee, a fourth year marketing and digital communications student at Ohio State. I love to write and share my thoughts and experiences and I am excited to join Her Campus for my last semester of college <3