Ramen noodles, no time and ways to avoid homework at midnight

College can be time-consuming, and it certainly isn’t cheap!  These are two complaints I think most of us can agree on.  After all, consider the facts.  Third-thirds of students borrow loans to pay for college.  In 2010, the average graduating senior owed around $24,000.

If that doesn’t shock you, consider this common study hour formula. According to experts, you should be studying two hours per credit hour for every easy class, three hours per credit hour for every average class and four hours per credit for every difficult class.  Keep in mind that there are only 168 hours in a week and you need to spend at least 49 of them sleeping. 

So what are the keys to saving money and saving time?  What are the magic solutions to paying tuition, balancing busy schedules and tackling those tough classes, while still finding time for your favorite activities?  While we wait for someone to come up with the 40-hour day, I can share a few tips.

  • As a college student, money weighs pretty heavily on my mind.  I’ve discovered a few neat ways to save, though.  Look for scholarships. Do your research!  Ask around and check campus updates.  I applied to a plethora of grants and scholarships last year.  I probably didn’t qualify for about half of them, but it doesn’t hurt to try.  In the end, I was chosen for two. 
  • Once you’ve applied for scholarships, start scouring WorkNet or checking the Help Wanted ads in The BG News.  Part-time jobs can be a great way to earn money, as long as they don’t interfere with your schoolwork.  Applying for jobs can be intimidating, but they’re out there, so do not give up. 
  • Here’s another handy tip: Watch your spending when you go off campus to eat.  There’s nothing wrong with weekend trips to Polleyes or Cookie Jar, but ordering food for delivery every night from Oasis will probably add up. Meanwhile, your meal plan will go to waste!  Spend carefully. 
  • Here is another one: take advantage of free things!  Free things are everywhere on campus: free admission to games, free access to the rec center and field house, and free activities like movies or skating from time to time, courtesy of organizations like UAO.  A local church even hosts free pancakes once a month.  These are great ways to save money and have fun. 
  • Here’s one final tip on saving: always know where your key, PED and ID card are.  It costs money to replace them.

So you’ve got your spending under reasonable control now, but what about time?  Your parents, professors, and RAs have probably all talked with you about time management by now. 

Some of the best advice I got as a freshman came from my RA, who suggested using a day planner.  I would suggest the same. When you have appointments to attend, calls to make, chapters to read, essays to write, projects to plan and work at 3, it really helps to put your life on paper.  I love my planner.  It has a homework section, an appointment section and a section for “the rest of your life.” 

Of course, even when you’re organized, you might still find yourself pressed for time.  Try this trick: Wake up 30 minutes before you really have to every day and before you even get ready for classes, sit down at your computer and do some homework.  I’ve found that doing homework first thing in the A.M. is a lot more effective than doing homework at midnight when I’m too tired to remember anything I learned in class. 

If you’re still feeling overbooked, gain control by cutting out an hour of television a night or taking a leave of absence from Facebook.  Last winter, around finals, I made my roommate change my Facebook password.  Neither of us kept a TV in the room either.  Save pastimes like Xbox and Jersey Shore for the weekends and you’ll be amazed at how much you can actually do. 

If you’ve tried everything, though, and you’re still helplessly overwhelmed, talk to your academic advisor.  Your advisor can help you decide if you should drop a class — and if you must drop a class, sooner is better.  Don’t wait until the drop date has passed and never wait until you’re failing a class.   

I hope these facts and tips can offer you a little relief.  Inevitably, you’re going to pull a few all-nighters and find yourself eating Ramen noodles at some point in your four years here.  You’re not alone.  Stay on top of your schedule, never forego sleep right before an exam and monitor your spending.  Saving is easier than you think

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