by Stephen Buckley, Product Manager
As a college student halfway through my first year at Georgia Tech, I still have yet to experience most of college. However, I have learned quite a bit, particularly about how to optimize my life with limited time and money. Take everything I say with a grain of salt, but here are some “life hacks” and tips I utilized in my first semester of college.
Life Hack #1 - Preventing Concussions with a Pool Noodle
My dorm room (as are most others at GT) is set up such that my bed is directly on top of my desk. It’s an efficient way to place these items, but it has one problem: it results in a metal bar being directly above the desk which does not feel nice when you accidentally hit your head on it. Over the first week, I must have hit my head on this bar at least five times. So, I came up with a solution: buy a pool noodle from Target for a low price, cut one side of the pool noodle, and put the noodle on the metal bar. I did this, and now I hit my head on a soft pool noodle instead of a metal bar (which does not hurt in the slightest).
Life Hack #2 - A Free, Sustainable Snack System
As a first-year at GT, I am required to be on a meal plan where I have four meal swipes a day. I don’t know about you, but I don’t eat four meals a day. I ended up only really using 2-3 of them a day for a while until I discovered this: I could use extra meal swipes to get snacks for later. I stopped buying snacks at Publix and started to simply accumulate them through my extra meal swipes, and it was a perfect system. I even have a designated snack drawer in my desk, so I can pull out a snack while studying at any time.
Life Hack #3 - Fueling a Coffee Addiction at Minimal Cost
For the record, that title is a joke. I’m not actually addicted to coffee...I hope. Anyway, my meal plan specifically consists of four meal swipes a day and $150 Dining Dollars a semester. Dining Dollars are like real dollars, except they are tax-free and can only be used for food/drinks at specific on-campus locations. Since I had so many meal swipes, I paid for my meals and food solely using those. I decided to use my Dining Dollars strictly on coffee; I drink coffee often, but not every day, so it worked out mathematically. It allowed me to utilize my entire meal plan while also getting my mid-day caffeine boost when I didn’t have time for a nap. It was a win-win.
Life Hack #4 - Utilizing Free Stuff
A simple truth is that free stuff is the best stuff since it’s free. At GT, I acquired and utilized a lot of free stuff. I acquired multiple t-shirts and sweatshirts for free, and they have since become a part of my wardrobe. I also acquired an excessive amount of masks and hand sanitizer. I probably have enough hand sanitizer to last me at least a year, and I have enough free reusable masks such that I do not need any more period. Free items also became decorations for my dorm room, with one example being magnets. My favorite item I got for free is a lawn chair. Because of it, my room now seats more than two people (it seats three). The chair is also portable and allows me to sit down comfortably at socially-distant gatherings. Aside from my noticeably higher out-of-state tuition, I didn’t pay a single penny for any of this.
Life Hack #5 - Being Productive and Socializing Simultaneously
A conundrum I encountered in college was this: “I want to hang out with this person, but I also need to finish my homework. What do I do?” A common thought is that one can only do one or the other, but I discovered that you can do both. It’s pretty simple: you and someone else do homework in the same place. You talk a little bit, but you’re mostly doing homework. Having each other’s company makes you both feel much better than being alone, and they’ll be okay with not talking as much because chances are, they’ll be as busy as you are.
Life Hack #6 - Remembering to Enjoy My Time
In the midst of classes, homework, extracurriculars, and internship/job applications, forgetting to enjoy yourself is an easy thing to do in college. For the sake of your mental health and your college experience, you must find ways to enjoy yourself. With a little bit of effort and strategy, it’s possible even when busy with everything else. I enjoy doing work by either listening to music or spending time with someone simultaneously. I take breaks from doing work, for instance by eating dinner with friends every day. College is a special, but temporary time in your life, so remember to enjoy it while you can.