Now that I've reached that milestone, here's how I did it while keeping my mental health functioning at (what passes for around here) top notch.

1. Do. Not. Procrastinate.  The memes make it look cute and there will always be something more fun going on.  You know what isn't fun? Writing that huge research paper in a night because you stayed out with friends when you should have been working.  If you start as assignment as soon as you know about it, you can work on it for about an hour a day and have plenty of time for correcting and proofreading before turning it in.

2. Cool it on the partying.  This isn't something I really dealt with, because I'm a 60 year old woman at heart and heaven forbid I get in bed later than 11pm.  But if it is something that you deal with, find other ways to let off steam.  Don't drink until you're of a legal age, and never in excess.  What is appealing about being so out of control of your faculties that you can't remember what went on that night? Absolutely nothing, and it can put you in some really regrettable situations.

3. Be mindful about money.  For many people, moving away for school is their first experience of living on their own and budgeting for themselves.  Whether the money is from a part time job or you have incredibly gracious parents, learn how to spend it wisely.  If you have a meal plan, use it, and don't blow all your money on going out to eat, or buying clothes you don't need.  Always keep some back for unexpected expenses like text books you forgot to get at the beginning of the semester and doctor's appointments.

4. And about textbooks... there are better ways.  Look into ebooks you can download for pennies on the dollar, borrow the book from someone who has taken the class before, and don't get the book immediately.  I've bought so many textbooks that were listed as required that we never looked at in class.  Wait until you get the syllabus and actually see if you have readings, etc from a text before you buy it.  If you don't, chances are the test questions come mostly from lecture.  Rush ordering on Amazon once you realize you actually need a book is cheaper in the long run than buying a bunch of books that you don't actually need every semester.

5. Take care of yourself.  Get enough sleep, even if it means leaving early or not going at all.  Exercise, even if its just walking around campus a couple times a week.  Clear your head rather than muddling it with alcohol if you have a problem.  Make time to read the things you want as well as the things you are assigned.  And be mindful about what you eat - cafeteria food isn't all that nutritional most of the time.  Buy some veggies and make them on your own, and make sure you get at least a serving every day.

6. Most importantly, find community.  It's tough to be on your own for the first time.  Make lasting friendships with people who have your best interests at heart and want to see you succeed. Banish toxic people from your life.  The company you keep shapes who you become.

  summer by Hannah Faith on Grooveshark

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