Inspired by user Nicodemus_Reborn on Reddit
The bane of every poor uni student's existence, textbooks are a money vacuum - plain and simple. However, there are so many ways to mitigate the excessive cost of your textbooks.
While I would never advocate pirating textbooks, I will say that you'd be surprised what a textbook name or author's last name will turn up on the popular torrenting sites. They may be an older edition, but the changes between two editions are usually minimal. Library Genesis may also help you in your search for textbooks or general knowledge.
Your university library is likely to have copies of some textbooks available. Especially if they are required reading in your syllabus. If you are the early bird, you may just get the worm in this instance (The worm is the textbooks).
You will always find a cheaper place to buy books online. Amazon or various book rental sites will sell them at a fraction of the cost. Online PDF copies of a book are far cheaper than their physical counterparts. For classes that require an access code, always check the website for how much directly buying the code would cost - sometimes these programs come with an ebook included, or will provide an eBook far cheaper than the physical book with the access code.
If you are willing to take a small risk, and have trustworthy friends in the class, go in half for the book. There's no shame in sharing a textbook, especially when it saves you money.
If your uni allows for you to register your own classes, you will often find that the same class is offered by multiple professors. You have resources available to you that are invaluable to this choice. A huge number of profcheck websites will give you a general idea of what the professors are like (if you can wade through the reviews of disgruntled students).
Asking around in your major, particularly the older students, is another great way to get some insight into the various professors, their teaching styles, the workload, and how willing they are to work with you. Taking the time to research the 'optimal' instructors will save you a fair amount of aggravation. Every uni has 'horror story professors' and you can avoid them if you try, usually.
Most, if not all, students never visit their professors during office hours. This is a mistake. Aside from earning a few brownie points that you can hopefully use in the event of missing an assignment, professors are happy to help you if you're struggling with the class. For those of you that don't require any help, still go! Professors have spent years networking, and may just be your ticket to an internship or co-op.
Keep your old classwork!
I have an entire external drive devoted to all my classwork that I've ever done, with folders dedicated to each class. There are often times where your courses subjects may overlap, and you may find answers to current problems hidden amongst previously completed work. Use an online free cloud storage like Dropbox.com or Google Drive to store your work, both old and recent.
Find a healthy stress-reliever
Uni may be one of the most stress-inducing times in your life. Without an outlet to release some of this pent-up stress, your health will suffer, and subsequently so will everything you're involved in. Find something you can dedicate an hour every other day to, and do it. For me, it was boxing. Three times a week, I'd go to a gym nearby, and just spend 30 minutes or so unloading my frustrations onto a punching bag. Give something similar a try, whether it be jogging, a martial art, weightlifting, swimming, anything! It will keep you physically healthy, as well as mentally healthy.
Procrastination and You
If you are anything like me, your biggest enemy will be yourself. Namely, your penchant to procrastinate on assignments until the day they're due. I'm guilty of it, I'm sure most college students are. Heck, I'm procrastinating on an assignment as we speak by writing this post. I'm sure you've heard the spiel about proper time management at some point or another, so I won't even bother. I'll tell you what actually works.
Take your books/laptop, only what is absolutely necessary to do your homework, to a quiet location. The library is the obvious choice, but maybe you have somewhere better. Set small goals for yourself, rather than a large one. Stay in the library for 1-3 hours, and tell yourself what you are going to do in that timeframe, and do it. Without your phone or other people to distract you, your productivity will skyrocket. It's far easier to say "I'll do a page of this essay in the next hour" than "I need to do ten pages by Thursday." Do not allow yourself on social media during this time.
I encourage you to make a small investment in a dry-erase board. It lets you write down everything you have due, the due dates, and it's immensely more satisfying to wipe them off this board as you finish than deleting them from a smartphone list. At least I think so. If your assignments aren't submission-time-restrictive (having to turn something in on a specific day, and no sooner), then as you write your assignments down, shift the due dates back a few days. You'll finish earlier, and it gives you a less wiggle room to procrastinate. If you're like I was freshman year, you'll try finishing (and starting) a paper the night it's due. This way, when you enter panic mode, you'll realize that you aren't as strapped for time as you thought.
All in all, procrastination can only be solved by you and your willpower. Removing temptations from the equation, and putting yourself in the proper mindset will help you emerge victorious, but it still boils down to that key battle.
I've always found that since I've been in uni, my friends have always fallen into one of two categories: academic friends, and activity friends. Sometimes these overlap, but it's the exception and not the rule. The former can help keep you on track, provide a study buddy or a textbook trader/sharer, and (if they're older) give you advice about the major you both have. The latter will keep you sane, and make sure that uni doesn't completely send you up the wall.
Your university will probably have more clubs than you could imagine. These clubs are a great way of meeting other students with similar hobbies, beliefs, and interests. If you're a political person, join the Young Democrats or Young Republicans. If you enjoy gaming, I almost guarantee there is a club associated with video games. Devote some of your free time to attending a few club meetings, and see if you make some new friends!
On the other side of the coin, you should try to make a few friends that share the same major as you. These will be the people that you will probably see in the same classes you're taking for the next four-five years. It could be as easy as introducing yourself to the people sitting next to you in class or making friends during a group project. Your major probably has a club or group associated it, and this can be another good place to meet people. These friends will be godsends if you miss a day of class and need notes, need a helpful reminder when something is due, or give you a groupmate that you know.
If you feel like making friends with neighbors in your dormitory, try leaving your door open some! You'll be associating with these people in some capacity for at least a semester. If they walk by and see you playing a videogame, you may find a player 2.
Your GPA and Scholarships
I cannot stress this tip enough. If you are a uni student and receive almost any type of financial aid - whether it be state/federal grants, scholarships, anything - there is most likely a GPA requirement. Using myself as an example, my scholarship requires I maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA to continue receiving it. It is vital that you find out what these requirements are, memorize them, and understand what that means in terms of your expected academic success.
While it is sometimes possible to appeal to the Financial Aid Office if you do not meet these requirements one semester, it's better to avoid the situation all together.
So what can you do to salvage, save, or maintain your GPA?
Give yourself some "easy A" classes. They may not count towards your program. They may not help you meet your upper-level course requirement. They might not even teach you anything. But if your entire uni career rides on you maintaining a specific GPA and getting that financial aid, having a small cushion can help. They may cause you to be a bit behind schedule for graduating (most people are anyways, these days), but for institutional scholarships I have found that requesting an extension is far easier than appealing for it to be returned.
If it is relatively early in the semester and you find yourself utterly failing a course (sometimes you miss/fail one exam, and that's all it takes. It happens.) look into your university or uni's policy on dropping courses. Pertinent information to know is the deadline to do so, the cost of withdrawing from a course, as well as if a "Withdrawal" counts against your GPA. You shouldn't do this often, but it is better to withdraw while you can than to ride a rough course until it is too late, and end up with a 3, 4, or even a 5 in some cases. These grades will not give you 'credit', but will utterly sink your GPA. Be realistic and honest with yourself if you see this happening, and act decisively.
To show an example from my personal history, I had managed near-straight A's throughout my first two semesters of college. Due to a professor's strict attendance policy, I failed one course during that second semester. Fifteen hours each semester, with one 4, one 2, and eight 1's, my end GPA was a 1.4 - nearly losing my scholarship . Do not underestimate how much a bad grade can affect you.
In more extreme cases where an entire semester went wrong, you may have the option to declare Academic Bankruptcy. It's a fairly complicated process, and you should really only consider it in the most dire of circumstances (you failed literally everything, or almost did). It basically invalidates a whole semester of your college work. It will not count against (or for) your GPA, you will not receive credit for the classes you passed, and a note will be made on your official transcript noting that you have done so. It's a double-edged sword, so be cautious.
For the last two cases, remember to discuss these options with your academic advisor or financial aid advisor, to ensure that there are no complications or hidden drawbacks.
Citations (AKA Satan Incarnate)
It may just be me, but I've hated citations since the first essay I had to write in college. APA, MLA, in-text and 'Works Cited'/'Bibliography' pages, they can be infuriating, confusing, time-consuming, and grade-determining. Fortunately for the citation-inept among us, we have the joyous internet and its many resources.
http://www.easybib.com/ and http://www.bibme.org/ are sites designed for one main purpose - to create your citations for you. Website data can be automatically retrieved for the most part, and you may need to manually enter it in for some other media, but these will provide you with the proper format and even help you make the page itself.