25 DIY College Life Hacks

Posted by , Updated on December 22, 2023

The years leading up to true adulthood are some of the most critical years in a person’s life. It’s during this period when you truly start to figure out who you are.

For many teens, graduating high school not only marks the end of a school era but an end to childhood as well. For most young adults, going to college will be the first time they left home for an extended period of time.

This life-changing experience will test everything they know, all the way down to their core values and beliefs.  

As exciting as living on your own may sound, it can be quite terrifying at times. It’s almost like you turn into a full-blown adult overnight. Things you didn’t know you had to worry about (like saving money, cooking dinner, and living a healthy life) now seem like a full-time job.

Luckily, there are quite a few college hacks that can save you time, money, stress, and multiple headaches. If you find this list helpful, please feel free to SHARE it with your high school pals and college classmates. 


Dish Rack Filer

Messy Deskhttps://www.diys.com/life-hacks-to-save-time-and-money/

There isn’t much space when it comes to dorm living. That’s why it’s important to utilize every inch you have.

Instead of buying a bulky filing cabinet, try using a small dish rack instead. Place your files in the area that would normally hold plates.

This new and improved way to store files will help you stay organized and keep your desk neat and tidy. You can also store pens and pencils in the area that would hold utensils.


Sun-Kissed Highlights


When you are a college student, you don’t normally have extra money lying around.

One great way to cut your monthly expenses is by doing your own highlights and touchups. Simply spraying your hair with a mixture of water and lemon juice before you leave your house can help lighten its color.

Or if you have roots showing, try covering them up with eyeshadow or mascara.


Decorate your Dorm

Dorm Roomhttps://thescholarshipsystem.com/blog-for-students-families/10-amazingly-clever-dorm-room-hacks-college-students/

Once you graduate high school, counting down the days until college starts may seem like a lifetime. However, once you finally begin your college experience, you may find yourself feeling homesick.

Decorating your dorm is a vital part of the college experience. You want to make sure you make your new home as comfortable as possible.

Hanging up pictures and bringing some familiar items with you can make your dorm feel like a home away from home.


Stock Your Fridge for Free


One rule of being a college student is this:

Never say no to free food.

If you visit your grandma and she wants to send you home with leftovers, just take them. You’ll regret it later if you don’t.

Another great way to stock your fridge is to take an empty container when you go to the cafeteria. Instead of throwing away your half-eaten sandwich, save it for later.

And don’t forget to grab extra napkins on your way out!


Thrift Store Shopper

Thrift Storehttps://www.platoscloset.com/

Shopping at thrift stores is a great way to find cheap, unique items.

One of the exciting things about shopping at second-hand stores is that you’ll never know what you may find. As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Also, try selling your unwanted clothes to your local Plato’s Closet. The second-hand clothing store is a modern take on Good Will or Salvation Army.

They will pay you cash for your gently-used clothing items. They are also known for selling name brands on the cheap.


Laptop Lock


Many of the people you will meet in college will be nice and genuine … but that doesn’t mean you should trust everyone.

Always stay aware of your surroundings no matter how well you think you may know someone. Buying a Lock and Security Cable is just an extra precaution to keep your valuables safe.

They range anywhere from $10 to $25 and are typically easy to install.


Take the Stairs


The freshman fifteen is not an urban legend. In fact, it’s very likely for college freshmen to gain anywhere between five and fifteen pounds during their first year.

This happens because students are eating later at night and they have more access to unhealthy food options.

The single choice of taking the stairs instead of the elevator will force you to stay active. Also, staying aware of what you eat can help you save money in the long run.


Sleep Mask and Earplugs

Ear Plugshttps://samanthability.com/25-college-hacks-for-back-to-school/

One of the hardest parts about leaving for college is learning how to live with another person.

If you are lucky, you get paired with a roommate who is respectful and considerate. However, there have been more times than not when that isn’t the case.

Investing in a good pair of earplugs and a sleeping mask will help you tune out the inevitable extra decibels of living in a dorm.

Even if your roommate does respect your sleep schedule, preparing with the right sleeping materials will help you get a good night’s rest.


Rate My Professor

Rate my Professor https://www.ratemyprofessors.com/

You will learn over time that some professors are much stricter than others. You can use Rate My Professor as a great tool to help you pick classes and professors.

The website allows students to leave a review of what they thought about the course and the teacher. You can see what grade the student earned, if the course goes heavy on the reading and writing, or if the professor offers extra credit or grade curves.


Quizlet App


Drop what you’re doing and download the Quizlet application now!

Quizlet is a mobile and web-based studying tool that can save your life … or at least improve your grades. It provides pre-made flashcards for certain courses, learning tools, games, and study guides.

More than fifty percent of university students in the United States are using this application. What does this mean? At least one of your courses is bound to be on the application.


Prevent Hangovers


College parties are known for cheap alcohol and sugary chasers. Those two items mixed together make for a wicked hangover in the morning.

If you plan to drink, stay hydrated with water throughout the night. Another great way to keep from getting a hangover is by sticking to the same alcohol beverage all night.

If you start by drinking beer, don’t switch to heavy liquor like vodka or gin.


Self Tanner

Self Tanhttps://bellatory.com/skin/How-to-Make-Your-Own-Tanning-Lotion

When you have a limited amount of spending money, sometimes you have to decide whether something is really a necessity. Having a great tan in the winter isn’t vital, but it might be something you don’t want to live without.

A spray tan can cost anywhere been $25 to $50. However, making a DIY tan lotion is a cheap alternative to keep your summer glow during those cold seasons.

All you have to do is mix ⅓ cup of pure cocoa powder into a ½ cup of unscented white lotion. Stir the mixture thoroughly to break up any clumps.

Then smooth the tanning lotion all over your body and make sure to rub it in evenly.


Make a Friend in Every Class

College Classroomhttps://awesomejelly.com/20-best-college-life-hacks-that-every-college-student-needs/

Talking to new people isn’t only a great way to network, but it’s also good for the soul.

You’ll never know who you might meet that will make a lasting difference. Some connections you make in college can even help you get a job after graduation.

Also, creating friendships with classmates will come in handy when it’s time to form study groups. Or if you can’t make a class one day, you can always text one of them to ask what you missed.


Stock Up on Freebies

Free Stuffhttps://awesomejelly.com/20-best-college-life-hacks-that-every-college-student-needs/

It’s always a good idea to have a drawer full of free things you come across.

When you are in the cafeteria, snag a couple of extra eating utensils and napkins. Or if you go to a school function and they are handing out flash drives or pens, ask if you can take more than one.

You’ll never know when those things will come in handy. Try not to go too overboard. You don’t want to turn into a hoarder … but collecting useful items can prove beneficial.


Take Advantage of Student Discounts


Many businesses seem to be aware of the struggle that goes with being a college student.

Companies like Amazon, Spotify, T-Mobile, Esurance, Jiffy Lube, and 24-Hour Fitness all offer student discounts. Sometimes all you have to do is ask about it or flash them your university ID card.

Even if you’re only saving a few dollars here and there, that money does add up. (Free trials are a totally different story because most people forget to cancel them!)


Rent Your Books

Text Bookshttps://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/important-life-hacks-every-college-student-should-know

College textbooks seem to be getting more and more expensive. There are even students who take out separate loans just to pay for course materials.

One of the best ways to save money is by renting your college textbooks. You can do this either from a local book store or from Amazon.

Amazon also offers students a discounted Prime membership that includes free two-day shipping. You then have options to extend your rental or choose how many semesters you want to keep it for.


Ace Presentations


Before you go up to do a presentation, give a few of your friends in the class a list of questions to ask you. This will help give the impression that you thoroughly researched the subject.

It’s also one of the best ways to impress your professor. Teachers will not only be happy that students are engaging in the class but that you actually know what you’re talking about.

Maintaining good eye contact and having notecards with bullet points to remember what you’re talking about also helps. 


Smelly Dorm

Messy Roomhttps://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/important-life-hacks-every-college-student-should-know

College life is extremely busy; sometimes you don’t even have time to eat, let alone do laundry. However, leaving your room a mess or allowing laundry to pile up does cause your room to smell a little.

A quick fix to minimize the stench is lining your AC unit or fan with dryer sheets. This will blow out a clean linen smell that will mask any other foul scents.


Make Noodles Like a Master


What college student hasn’t gotten tired of having Ramen noodles as part of their daily diet?

With just a couple of ingredients, you can transform a tired dish into a new creation.

Try adding any of the following to the boiling water, before you add the noodles:

  • Green onions, diced
  • Corn
  • Baby spinach
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Sesame seeds
  • Soy sauce
  • An egg

You will never go back to the old way of eating Ramen again.


Quickly Chill Drinks

Cold Beerhttps://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/important-life-hacks-every-college-student-should-know

There is nothing worse than drinking warm beer. Before you give your guest a drink, you can cool it down with a damp paper towel.

All you have to do is wrap the bottle in a wet paper towel or rag and then place it in the freezer. The drinks should be ice cold in less than 15 minutes.

If you’re in even more of a hurry, wet the rag in soda water and this should speed up the process.


Homemade Air Conditioning


If you are one of the unlucky ones living in a building without proper air conditioning, don’t worry. Your days of sweating are officially over!

When it’s super hot outside, try hanging a cold, damp towel in front of an open window.  This will help cool down a stuffy dorm room.

You can also place a bowl full of ice water in front of a fan. The fan will blow ice-cold air into the room, helping to reduce the temperature significantly. 


Microwave Chief


After a while, eating out can get seriously expensive. Or maybe it’s one of those days that you don’t feel like leaving the dorm.

Scrambled eggs are one of the easiest things to cook in the microwave.

  • Spray a mug with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Crack two eggs into the mug.
  • If you have a dash of milk or shredded cheese, you can add it to the mix!
  • Next, place your mug into the microwave for 45 seconds.
  • Then take it out and stir.
  • Repeat this step twice to ensure that your eggs are cooked thoroughly.

Add some salt and pepper, and you have a healthy, quick meal.


Coffee Without the Maker

Coffee cuphttps://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/important-life-hacks-every-college-student-should-know

Coffee is vital throughout the day for a college student. However, it’s most important when it’s way past your bedtime and you’re cramming for a midterm.

If you don’t have a coffee maker in your dorm, for this hack all you will need is a mug, coffee grounds, a coffee filter, rubber bands, and hot water. 

  • First, place the coffee filter on top of your mug and secure it with a rubber band.
  • Next, place your coffee grounds into the filter and slowly add the hot water.
  • If you don’t have any sugar or creamer, a bar of chocolate or candy can provide a bit of sweetness.

Or add a packet of hot chocolate to turn it into a mocha latte.


Healthy Sleeping Habits


I know it may be tempting to go out and party all night because you have no curfew anymore, but it’s really not healthy for your body.

It’s a good idea to prioritize your nightly sleep. There is nothing worse than going to class extremely tired.

You know your body better than anyone else does. Only you know how many hours of sleep your body needs in order to function.

Some people only need is six hours of sleep per night; others need as much as nine or ten if they want to function well the next day.


Live in the Moment!


Some people say that their four years of college were some of the best times of their life.

The connections you make and the memories you create will last a lifetime. That’s why it’s so very important to appreciate every second … even the not-so-nice ones.

Before you know it, you will be graduating, looking for a job, getting married, and starting a family. College is a time when you can be selfish and do all the things you love to do just because you can.

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