Tips for success in college

The start of college is just around the corner, and for you freshmen, it will be a time of new beginnings — you’ll have a lot of new freedoms and new responsibilities. It can be exhilarating, but a lot to take in all at once.

I got a lot of good advice when I started college, and I thought I’d share some of it with you, to help you get off on the right foot:

  1. Go to class. This may seem basic, and you may be planning on it right now, but once you get to college, you’ll find that a lot of people do skip class Click here to learn about third-party website links, especially the early morning sessions! Don’t give in to the temptation. Even though no one is around to make you answer that alarm clock, get in the habit of always attending class. It will make a big difference in your grades. In my opinion, it’s even more important to attend class than to do the required reading. (Obviously you should do both, but I’m just saying!) Plus, you are paying for these classes — get your money’s worth!
  2. This post is part of our Spotlight on Seniors series.Study between classes. Once you start college, you’ll probably be surprised at how much free time you have during the day. You’re used to being in school seven hours a day, but in college you may only have three classes on any given day. That leaves lots of hours in between. Resist the temptation to head back to your dorm room and watch soaps between classes. If you don’t have an on-campus job to occupy your time between classes, then stick around and head to the library. Review your notes, catch up on reading (you’ll have a LOT of reading to do in college), or finish any assignments you might have. If you get in the habit of staying on campus and studying during the day, you’ll find that you have a lot more free time in the evenings.
  3. Stay on the weekends. It can be tempting, especially in the first few months of college, to pack up and head back home on the weekends. After a long week of the unfamiliar — finding your way around campus, trying to get a handle on your classes — many students prefer to spend weekends in their comfort zone, around old friends and family, in familiar surroundings. Resist the urge, especially at first, even if you find yourself at loose ends on the occasional Friday night. If you stick around on the weekends, you’ll find that most other freshman are also looking for friends Click here to learn about third-party website links and trying to figure out college life. You’ll quickly start making more friends and finding things to do. It will be important to your happiness and your ultimate success in college to have a strong network of friends and a fun social life at school, as well as back home.
  4. Be careful with your money! College may be the first time you’ve been in charge of your own money, so now is the time to start some good habits. Figure out the best way to keep track of your checking and savings account balances. Managing your accounts online may be the easiest way. Save your receipts so you can keep track of your spending, and compare it against your online transactions. Start working on a budget from the get-go.
  5. Be cautious about credit cards. You’ll be inundated with offers at college. Get just one credit card and don’t charge any more than you can afford to pay off each month to avoid additional interest charges.

For those of you who have survived your first year of college, do you have any tips to share with the incoming freshmen?

About Caroline Hanson

Caroline is a communications consultant for Wells Fargo Education Financial Services. Although she has been known to forget her own ZIP code, she has memorized the lyrics to every bad 1970s pop song ever written. Unfortunately, she also loves karaoke. Caroline spends her spare time at Target®. She also likes biking slowly and has participated in RAGBRAI. Caroline is a graduate of Iowa State University and has worked in journalism and public relations for the past 14 years. She lives in Iowa with her husband and has a 19-year-old stepdaughter and 2-year-old son.
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7 Responses to Tips for success in college

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Caroline! I have recently applied for a wellsfargo connection loan and I was denied. I am in my last semester of college and my parents are not willing to co-sign anymore loans for me. My credit score is not so great either. any suggestions on what I can do?

  2. Anonymous says:

    where do I go to apply for a non-certified private student loan…

  3. Caroline Hanson says:

    @ Anonymous — First, make an appointment with a financial aid officer at your school to go over all your options in detail. The financial aid office can help you make certain that you have tapped out all your federal financing options (Federal Stafford Loans, Work-study, grants, etc.). If, after this step, it turns out that you still need more funding, perhaps you could see if someone other than your parents is willing to cosign your loan for you.

    You mention that your credit score is not great–if that is a matter of poor money-management on your part (as opposed to simply not having much credit history), then you should immediately take steps to get your finances under control. Before you ask anyone to cosign a loan, you should be able to demonstrate that you’re financially responsible. So, make a budget, set up a bill-paying system, stop building up any non-school-related debt, and do what you can to pay down the debt you’ve already accumulated. There may be resources on campus to help you learn how to manage your money–check into it. Additionally, you can find help on our website at Click “Get tips for managing your student loan debt.”

    Thanks for writing to us, and good luck to you.

  4. Caroline Hanson says:

    @Anonymous – You can get more information about Wells Fargo’s non-certified option, the Wells Fargo Education Connection® Loan, at, just click on the students or graduate students link (depending on your level) to see the loan options that are available. Also, while a non-certified loan may be your preference, you may want to check out your certified loan options as well since they are generally a lower-cost borrowing option.

  5. Keiry says:

    Thanks for these tips! You are definitely right

  6. christy h. says:

    I was recently denied an education loan from Wells Fargo for graduate school. My father cosigned for me, he makes around $3600 per month. I didn’t receive the loan based on my insufficient income. Yes, I agree. I do have a grossly insufficient income! But I have an excellent history of paying back my federal loans and no other debt. I own my vehicle. I thought going back to school would help me earn a sufficient income. I’m not sure where else to go for a loan, since I’m guessing most institutions use the same credit guidelines for issuing loans. Any advice?

  7. Barbara Raus says:

    Hi christy – would you send us some more information through our Ask the Expert tool (the link is in the right sidebar)? This way we’ll be able to pull the details of your application and provide better feedback.

The Student LoanDown

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