Ahhh! Higher Education. Four years (or more) of blissful immersion into the rigors of academic life followed by another four decades of crippling student loan debt. I remember it like it was yesterday! Probably because it nearly was yesterday. Of course things are different for me now. I'm in grad school, which is pretty similar to the first four years. The housing is just as small and cramped; the food in the dining hall is still bland; and I'm still broke. The only difference is that my professors know me by name now. After all, how else could they order me to pick up their lunch orders or grade freshmen papers for them? I can say that I have learned a few valuable tricks in the past year that have made life on campus easier, or at least more entertaining. Read along and enjoy, while I describe ten life hacks that have made life as a college student worthwhile.
1.I learned early on that listening to music helped me to study. I also learned that those cheap little ear buds suck, that only rich kids can afford one hundred-dollar noise canceling headphones, and that no dormitory has enough room for a stereo system and surround sound. So, I learned a trick from my roommate. Simply placing an iPod or other music playing device into an empty glass ill cause the music to be amplified. Of course this isn't just useful for study time. It's a great way to jolt your roomie awake early in the morning.
2.One of the characteristics of the typical college student is the desire to consume snacks at a nearly constant rage. I was and am no exception. My poisons of choice are various types of chips and Cheetos. Of course, anybody with similar snacking addictions knows that there are always remnant chip and cheesy pieces left at the bottom of the bag. I discovered a great way to use these when just a freshman. Crushed up Cheetos in a salt shaker and a bag of microwave popcorn = cheesy popcorn! Chili cheese corn chips and fries from the dining hall = chili cheese spiced French fries! Poor college students really can't afford to waste even a drop of food!
3.While I'm going on about snacks, I must mention the delicious portable, and convenient concoction of a squirt of convenience store nacho cheese directly into a bag of tortilla chips, topped with a bunch of pickled jalapenos. It's a meal, a snack, and the perfect accompaniment for a late night of studying! Buy the chips at the store, open them like you are going to eat them right then and there as you continue to shop, and visit the food bar condiments – load up! And the same goes for any fast food restaurant that has self-serve condiments, napkins and straws. Order a dollar burger, and fill the bag with as much as you can!
4.I was fortunate enough to learn one thing early in my college career. Now I happily pass that knowledge onto others. Engineering students are your friends. If you see one, approach one. Just be gentle. They can be a little skittish. Once you gain the engineering student's trust, he will be your go to resource for solving any number of college student related dilemmas. Whether it's rigging a beer delivery system or figuring out how to get a 50-inch flat screen into a fifth story dorm room, your friendly engineering student is always there to help.
5.Whenever possible, avoid the college bookstore. Instead, do what I did and enter the wonderful black market known as Craigslist and Facebook. Here, located in the deep, dark realm known as the internet, college students buy, trade, and sell books at fair prices. Or, you can take the road most traveled and pay three hundred dollars for an English textbook you might open twice in a semester. Which is it Neo? The blue pill or the red pill?
6.I spent very little time in high school actually attending high school. When I was in class, I spent very little of that time actually paying attention. When I started college, I was led to believe that my lack of experience in citing sources would lead to me being accused of plagiarism, sued, and kicked out of the world of academia. Then, I learned two little life hacks. The first is that nearly every academic resource has an automatic citation generator for virtually every paper format. The second is that college professors aren't evil monsters, gleefully wringing their hands waiting to derail my academic career over one small mistake in citation.
7.Pay a visit to dorm room lounges at the end of the spring semester. Outgoing seniors will leave behind a number of items they no longer need. This might include old video game systems, portable TV sets, bean bag chairs, end tables, coffee makers, and any other number of items.
8.When I registered for classes, I was issued a student ID. It took me two years to realize that it had more uses than simply getting me the student price tickets at the movie theater and access to the printers in the computer lab. It turns out that nearly every fast food chain offers a discount to students who can show a student ID.
9.Forget coolers and tubs for chilling beer and soft drinks. Nobody wants to drag those outside or to the bathtub to drain out the remaining liquid the next morning. The trick to cold drinks with stupid simple cleanup is filling the washing machine with ice. The next morning, just hit the spin cycle and let everything drain away.
10.No list of college life hacks would be complete without the mention of ramen noodles. Don't dismiss this as a stereotype. No other food can be cooked with fewer resources or converted into satisfying meals with the addition of just a few ingredients.
So, there it is - ten life hacks that made my life as an undergrad easier, and way more fun. Some of them I still use today! Don't thank me – just pay it forward!