March 18, 2024 by

When I arrived at Cedarville University as a freshman, I was so excited to begin my 1,000 Days on campus. I wanted to meet new friends and professors, decorate my room in Willetts Hall, and start acquainting myself with the place that would be my home for the next four years. I wanted to jump in and start living my new life. I wanted a routine — I wanted to find my favorite spot to study, my favorite food to eat, my favorite coffee shop to buy a drink from, and my place in a local church.  

At that early time in my freshman year, I didn’t know that these things would come after much time and many adjustments. What frustrated me was that everyone around me seemed to find a rhythm so much faster than I did. I longed for a list of tips to help me find my way through my freshman year at Cedarville. Over the past three years, I have picked up many life hacks that have helped me along the way, and in this blog, I hope to provide some invaluable hints to help both current and future students discover their own routines.  

Grabbing a Meal or Coffee  

On my first weekend on campus, I went to a coffee shop in town called Orion with a senior nursing major named Sydney. (In my humble opinion, Orion has the best drinks, but other students like Rinnova on campus or Beans-n-Cream, also in town!) We had a life-giving conversation about her experiences on campus and how Cedarville had changed her life. That day, she introduced me to a long-standing unspoken tradition of “grabbing coffee” or “grabbing a meal.”  

The schedules of college students can be filled to the brim with classes, homework, and extracurricular activities, and sometimes it’s difficult to carve out time for all the people that you might want to meet. I have found that mealtimes are the best ways to develop friendships and have meaningful conversations on campus. I often schedule weekly meals with my friends that I don’t see very often, and this allows me to stay updated with them during the hustle and bustle of college life. 

Getting coffee with friends is also a great way to keep in touch. My initial Sunday afternoon with Sydney eventually turned into a weekly meeting in which we could be intentional about involving ourselves in each other’s lives. After all, students do have to eat and drink while they’re in college, so why not add a friend or two to the mix?  

Keep a Physical Planner/Calendar  

One of my most important personal possessions is my physical planner. It keeps me accountable on my journey through the days, weeks, and months that make up each semester. Each colored square represents a day full of tutoring appointments, classes, meetings with friends and professors, and meals. I find that keeping a physical planner serves multiple purposes:  

  1. Keeping a planner helps me stay organized. Yes, I do realize that this tip may be a bit obvious, but keeping a physical planner helps me solidify events in my mind. When you write something down, you’re more likely to remember it! With a physical planner on hand, you also are less likely to overbook, double-book, or even triple-book yourself, and I have friends who have accidentally done that before! 
  2. Keeping a planner reminds me that I can complete my assignments. When I look back at the weeks of projects, papers, and exams that I have completed, it reminds me that I’ve finished other semesters. It reminds me that it is possible to climb the mountain of the current semester that I must conquer. 
  3. My planner serves as a makeshift scrapbook for me. I paste small pieces of my days into my planner, and when I look back, it functions as a sort of scrapbook. For example, when I go to the movies, I will tape my ticket on the day that I went. Then, I not only remember that I went to the movies on that day, but I remember which one I went to see. 

What do I do with that one annoying hour in between my classes?  

When class schedules are set, there are some semesters in which students will have blocks of time in between classes or commitments. I have heard many students say, “Wow, I can’t do anything with this hour. It’s not enough time to get anything done.” I can assure you that this is not a factual statement! There are many things that I do with those odd hours: I read my Bible, and I do small chunks of homework and reading. I sometimes use these hours to grab a meal or a coffee with friends, but this section is more focused on homework. Even if the hour isn’t enough time to completely finish an assignment, it’s a good head start! Never underappreciate the power of an hour in college. Chunking away at an assignment piece by piece is far better than mindlessly scrolling on your phone.  

Miscellaneous Life Hacks  

Here are a few random life hacks that I picked up from some friends on campus:  

  1. Do laundry on a weekday. Usually, students do laundry when they have more time on the weekends, and by then, the laundry room is packed. Avoid the crowd by squeezing it in on a weekday! 
  2. Make food on the grill at Chuck’s (the dining hall). You can get creative with your meals! My friends have made grilled cheese sandwiches, fried chicken nuggets, fried potatoes, stir fry, pancakes, and omelets on the grill. The options are endless; let your creativity inspire your meals! 
  3. Unless you’re meeting someone, try to eat meals either 15 minutes before or after the hour mark. Sometimes, the lines for dining options on campus can be long, but if you wait, you can avoid the mealtime rush and get your food more quickly! 
  4. If you find yourself in a dorm with self-locking doors, make sure to invest in a good door stop. My roommate and I use a weighted stuffed sloth to wedge the door open and ensure that we don’t lock ourselves out while running an errand or checking on our laundry. 

Believe me, you don’t want to be locked out of your dorm at any point in your college career! 

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