College websites and student affairs professionals are always giving students advice on how they can improve their grades, get more involved, and so on.

But how practical and useful is that advice?  Is “study more” or “use better time management” really going to help you get through four (or more) years of higher education?  Probably not.  Will the tips in this post help you do that?  I won’t make any promises, but they can certainly help you in life in general, to be happier, and to enjoy life and college more if you use them.

But remember, these tips are not likely to be popular with many of you or your friends.  They aren’t popular largely because they aren’t easy and they take effort and require you to form a habit before you see any benefits.  Patience is key, so keep that in mind as you read through the list.

Related7 Crucial Habits to Build During School

Get Up Earlier and Be Productive

college student habits

As college students, we’re infamous for sleeping in when we can and often we really can’t as well.  I have a big problem with sleeping in personally because I always feel like I wasted my day (or at least half of it) when I stay in bed till mid-morning or even noon.  Getting up earlier allows you more time to do homework, study for a test you have later in the day, or to do anything else you need to get done.

Do note that I said “and be productive” in addition to just getting up early.  If you get up but spend your morning surfing YouTube for funny videos or watching television, you might as well still be in bed because you aren’t accomplishing anything.  There’s nothing wrong with either of those things, but if your motive for getting up early is to have more time to get things done, then you should actually be productive during those earlier hours.

Go to Bed Earlier & Stop the All-Nighters

all-nighter college

If you are going to get up early, you still need around 8 hours of sleep.  This means you will also need to go to bed earlier.  Now, how early depends on how early you want to get up (keeping in mind the last tip) and of course, what else you have going on in a night.

This tip is really not popular, perhaps the most unpopular one of the bunch, but going to bed around 10 when you can will help you to be more rested and ready for the next day ahead.

Work Out Regularly

A lot of students say they are going to work out more each year in college, but there are plenty that don’t stick with it.  Working out does more than build muscle and burn fat, it also is a great way to relieve stress and keep your body active as well as your mind.  You already spend a lot of your day sitting – in class, at meals, in meetings, in your room, etc.

Walking to all of those places isn’t enough to make up for all the inactivity so going to your campus recreation center.  Even if you aren’t lifting weights, simply playing basketball or swimming around in a pool can be a great way to boost your body.

Eat Regular and Balanced Meals

Eating Well in College

Working out is only part of what you need to do to stay fit and keep your body in shape.  If you aren’t eating right, working out regularly won’t do much for you.  This means eating regularly, as in at least two meals a day if not three (I realize it can be hard to get three in at times).  I’ve had days where I didn’t get three and struggled to get two, but in general, you should eat regularly and at similar times (to train your body when to be hungry).

Eating regularly only helps you when you are also eating right.  I’m just as guilty as the next person about eating fast food and unhealthy meals, but I do realize the benefits in not doing that.  Eat in your campus dining hall or “main facility” when you can, basically wherever it is on your campus that provides standard meals and not fast food.  If you live off campus, it’s easy.  Buy food yourself and cook it.

You don’t have to count calories or track your meals to follow this tip, just make time to eat no matter how busy you may be.  You’ll definitely find yourself in a better mood because of it.

Eat Alone Sometimes

Eating Alone

It’s no longer socially unacceptable to eat alone in a cafeteria/food court setting.  In fact, I find it is better at times than eating with other people.  Certainly, we all need some form of social interaction and dinner is a great time to get it.  But eating with others is also a big distraction.

If you are just eating lunch (or any other meal) between classes or other appointments, eating alone will be a lot faster than even eating with just one other person.  Otherwise you’ll get caught up in a conversation and possibly be running late all day.

I can usually eat in 10 minutes and then be able to work on homework or be productive in some form before my next class.  You eat a lot faster when you aren’t talking in between bites.

Maybe all of these tips won’t work for you.  Maybe eating alone just isn’t your thing or perhaps working out on a regular basis doesn’t strike you as even slightly enjoyable.  Don’t force yourself to do the things you know you won’t like, these should not be torturous activities.  Find what you want to do to improve yourself, even if it is a bit unpopular, and better your college life that way.