Being in college is hard and the first thing that everyone and their mother starts telling you when you get there is “It’s all about balance.” That is a helpful piece of advice, but what is the point of even mentioning something so profound without giving me a set of guidelines on how to balance it all?

No need to worry… I am here to give you some much needed guidance.

Tip number 1: School comes first

School always comes first. Whether you are here on scholarship, grants, and loans or paying out of pocket you are paying thousands of dollars to sit in that classroom and to do the homework. In order to make that money worth it you need to pass those classes.

Let me give you an example. Your friend comes into your room and says “bro, let’s go hang out tonight,” but you have gobbles and oodles of homework. You have to say no.

Now I know what you are thinking, “But Candace that is not fair I need to hang out with my friends, too. After all, aren’t college relationships the ones that last forever?” The truth is if your friend really has your back, they will let you do what you need to do to be successful in college.

Tip number 2: Friends or lone wolf

Friends are very important when it comes down to being in a strange place and not knowing anyone. You need to have that home away from home. You have to make time for your friends, so you can celebrate getting all that homework done. They are also there for you when you are both staring at your million-dollar books, trying to figure out what your professor wants from you. Either way, having someone there to experience college with is always the best.

The most common mistake when creating new friends is thinking that they won’t accept you, so you pretend to be something you are not. That is not healthy. People are not always going to like you, but the ones that do are always going to accept all of who you are!

Don’t force making low-quality friends, just because you don’t want to be alone. You will find your people, but sometimes they take time to find. Being alone is hard but it is something that helps clear your mind. Just know: you can do it!

Tip number 3: Bills, bills, bills

Some students don’t stay in the dorms forever. Moving out on your own and finding a space that is all yours is a really cool experience. You always want to create a budget. Do NOT move in with Sally, Jane and Sue if you are not sure they can pull their weight or if you are not sure you can afford it.

The way I have done it was to make sure that I could afford the place I was living at by myself. That way if anything went south with my roommates, I wouldn’t be homeless.

Preparing yourself financially is critical before moving into a house. There are a lot of things to think about.

Bonus Tip: You will survive

College can be really hard at first, but it really just takes some getting used to. It forces you to grow up really fast. Learning how to make your own responsible decisions is hard. Teaching yourself the difference between what you ought to be doing rather than what you want to do is important.

I have known people who got to college and knew exactly what to do, but I have also been the student who felt lost and had no idea why she was failing. Being the positive person I am, I know that I am smart enough to figure out how to get through the dark times.