adulting tips

College Survival 101: Must-have skills for students living in dorms, apartments

Rainielle Kyle Guison
College Survival 101: Must-have skills for students living in dorms, apartments
From tracking your expenses to managing your time wisely, living on your own as a college student is your ‘free trial’ for adulthood

MANILA, Philippines – For many students, college marks the start of independence. From pre-elementary to high school, most Filipino students live with their parents, and college is usually their first opportunity to live somewhere else. 

With the approaching implementation of face-to-face classes, it is expected that students will be once again occupying dormitories and apartments around their universities. Those who have done this before might not be too stressed about the coming change, but it may be thrilling and anxiety-inducing for those who will be experiencing this for the first time.

This will be a big step to take in their lives. The challenges of living away from home are bound to arise, and they will be left with no choice but to deal with them on their own. How can a college student survive in an environment where nothing seems familiar?

Don’t panic! Here are some of the must-have skills you should learn for living independently.

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Know where your money goes

As a student, you would be living independently, but only to an extent. Yes, you will be moving out of your parents’ house, but you will likely still depend on them financially. Just like when you were in high school, your parents will still give you an allowance.

As you go, you will learn that money doesn’t grow on trees, and that you’ll have to learn how to spend it wisely. When budgeting, the first thing you have to do is to list down the things you would need to spend your money on, such as food, rent, bills, school supplies, and transportation. Once you’ve listed these essentials, allocate the money for them. A good tip is to set aside your money for rent first, so you won’t have problems with your landlord later on. It would also be good to already set aside money for electricity, water, and internet bills together with your rent money.

In theory, budgeting is easy, but it is actually way harder when the money is just in your pocket and your favorite restaurant is just across the street. In situations like this, you should assess three things: the amount of money you have left, the days before your next allowance arrives, and if the thing in front of you is a need or a want. Creating a spreadsheet or downloading an expense tracker app or template can be very helpful. 

College Survival 101: Must-have skills for students living in dorms, apartments

On the other hand, if you realize that your allowance is not enough even for your basic expenses, you can always try to look for part-time jobs or apply for scholarships to help with your finances.

Be your own masterchef

Budgeting will also teach you that eating at restaurants is not always the best option. However, not all dormitories and apartments come with a kitchen, so it’s better to consider this when choosing a place to live in. More often than not, grocery shopping will save you more money and knowing how to cook will be a good advantage.

If you don’t know how to cook, that’s not a problem! There are plenty of cooking websites and YouTube channels that are beginner-friendly. Aside from the comfort of home-cooked meals, this would also allow you to have a wide-ranging menu. Who needs to go to different restaurants when you can have Filipino and Italian cuisine in your own kitchen?

Getting along with your roomies

Living independently doesn’t necessarily mean living alone. Dormitories and apartment units, especially the cheaper ones, usually come with two or more beds, meaning that you’ll have to share the space with other people.

If you don’t want to be branded as the “messy roommate,” you better step up your tidying game. In your new place, your things are your responsibility, and nobody else is expected to clean up after you. This entails being organized with your stuff and your area. Marie Kondo may not be trending anymore, but surely she can still help you with finding out what sparks joy and what doesn’t.

College Survival 101: Must-have skills for students living in dorms, apartments

Another point to consider if you want to get along with your roommates is noise. This doesn’t mean that you have to stay completely silent in your room; rather, you have to consider when it’s okay to blast your favorite pop song and when it’s not. Sometimes, your roommate might need to review for an upcoming test and so you have to be understanding.

Aside from this, you also have to tell them if you plan to bring friends over. Remember, it’s not just your room. Learn how to communicate with your roommate so you can build a good relationship.

The art of resourcefulness

There will come a time when you realize that something is missing. Since you are not at home, your furniture and equipment will most likely be incomplete, and thus, you have to be resourceful.

It’s also possible that stuff in your apartment gets broken, so it would be good if you know how to do minor repairs. Let’s say your dirty clothes hamper breaks. You can either patch it up temporarily with adhesive tape, or you could just use a carton box instead of buying a new one.

Here’s another useful tip: think of the things that you can get from your home instead of buying new ones such as kitchen utensils and an extension cord.

Time is also money; don’t waste it

Time management is a skill that may be overlooked, but it is extremely important when you hold all your time with no one to tell you what you have to do. Aside from your university classes which have a fixed schedule, everything else is up to you. Do you eat on time, do your homework, clean your room, or just lie down and watch Tiktok videos?

There is no single formula for time management because different techniques work for different people. Set your priorities and try to be consistent. Test out techniques such as the pomodoro method or the Eisenhower matrix. Keep a to-do list.

College Survival 101: Must-have skills for students living in dorms, apartments

It’s easy to say “mamaya na because nobody will scold you for lazing around, but this habit could just stress you out more. Building a daily routine can help you get better with time management while also making your chores less taxing.

Discipline yourself

Overall, living away from home can be mastered with self-discipline. Managing your resources such as time and money takes discipline, and you will also be the one to suffer if you manage them poorly. As you get used to it, you will realize that you don’t always have to be strict with yourself and that, sometimes, you deserve that extra scoop of ice cream while watching Netflix in bed. – 

Rainielle Kyle Guison is a Rappler intern.

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