13 Life Hacks for Living Well in College

It’s two weeks into the school year, and whether you are a freshman or a senior, you may be struggling to maintain a healthy lifestyle in college. Below are some of the simplest tips and best-kept secrets for becoming and staying well in college!

1) You don’t have to try everything every time you go to the dining hall.

Surprise! The dining halls offer the same food pretty often. You don’t have to load up each time you eat. My freshman year, I grabbed everything that looked good to me.  Not only was I full by the time I figured out what I actually liked, but I ended up overeating or wasting food.

2) There are hidden gems (for eating well) in the dining hall. 

First of all, the salad bars have a lot more than salad. The dining halls offer hummus and granola almost daily, and they’re usually hidden amongst the dressings and salad toppings.

Look around the entire dining hall before you start your plate. Make sure you check every station because you don’t want to miss an option that you really want.

If you’re a vegetarian, you don’t have to stick to the “green zone” stations. The pasta, pizza, and “comfort food” areas almost always have a vegetarian dish or side.

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 3) You don’t have to go out. 

Relaxation isn’t overrated. We are in college, and there will be some kind of social event every single weekend. If you’re tired, need to study, or genuinely want to stay in –  you can! If you feel pressure from your peers, make plans with them for another time.

4) There is a campus registered dietitian available to students for free!

In my opinion, they are the two most hidden gems on campus! Athletic trainers and dietitians cost a lot of money to see privately, and you have access to see both the registered dietician and the athletic trainer on campus for FREE! No appointment necessary.

Our registered dietitian offers body assessment consultations, nutritional counseling, information on dietary supplements, and more. She is available in the Wellness Center (MSC 1504) every Thursday from 1 -4 and every Friday from 11 – 1.

The athletic trainer offers workout consultation, injury prevention tips, body composition, and more. She is available every Tuesday from 11 – 1 and Wednesday from 1 – 3.

5) Sitting outside can still be enjoyable in the Florida heat!

Our campus is beautiful, and all our fields and parks are rarely utilized. My favorite relaxation areas are the MSC Lawn, Castor Beach, and the park behind the library. Spending time outdoors is good for your body and your mind, so bring plenty of water and relax!

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6) The Counseling Center is there to help and teach.

The Counseling Center is a safe place for all students. They are there to help guide you through any struggles you may face while in school, and they offer all kinds of services, like individual, group, and couple counseling, as well as, workshops to enhance your college experience! Not only can the Counseling Center help you, but they can also teach you the power of resiliency and help you build your inner BULL. College can be intimidating, but the Counseling Center is there to ease the pressure.

 7) USF has its own Riverfront Park!

I’m always surprised at the number of people who don’t know about the Riverfront Park. Students get in for free, and you can rent hammocks, kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes for $5! The Hillsborough River is beautiful, and kayaking is both relaxing and a great workout! The park is about three miles from campus, located off of Fletcher Avenue.

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8) You don’t have as much free time as you may think.

When I first got to college I thought it was a lot easier than high school because I seemed to have so much more free time. That’s the illusion of the first month of college. Time management is no joke, and you need to use your free time wisely. Tests usually fall on the same week, and all of that free time disappears quickly. You can avoid stress and cramming by finishing your easier and long-term assignments early.

9) Campus is walkable! 

Our campus may seem huge and scary, but taking the bus is rarely necessary. For example, walking from any of the residential halls to the gym is less than a mile, and walking to the library is less than half a mile! It’s an easy way to stay active!

 10) Timing when you hit the gym is crucial.    

The most crowded hours are from 11:30 – 1:30 and 4 – 9 p.m., and when I say crowded I mean it. Sometimes there are just too many people for a comfortable workout environment. You may have to wait in line for a treadmill or bike, and you will have to wait in line for free weights. These are also the hours for many of the group fitness classes, so the open rooms are closed off. However, if you want to see and be seen, these are the best hours to go.

If you are look for a quieter time to workout, I suggest trying to head to the gym early on weekdays or make time during the day on weekends. During the week, the least crowded times for the gym are from 7:30 – 10:30 a.m. You will have a largest selection of equipment and rooms to use.

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11) You get to choose when you have class!!!

If you have the opportunity, choose class times in which you will be most attentive.  I originally wanted all afternoon and morning class times, but I soon realized that I have more energy and concentration during night classes.

12) In addition, scheduling morning classes will not make you a morning person.

There are many benefits to taking morning classes, but if you’re a night owl, they may be risky. If you have trouble waking up early you will probably end up being late or missing classes often. If you do wake up and get to class, it will probably be difficult to listen attentively and take notes. If you want to ease into waking up early, try a morning workout routine instead.

13) The buddy system is more useful than ever.

I was lucky enough to make very close friends that I could trust early on. However, I also met many untrustworthy people, and you may face situations where you need friends who will be there to watch your back or take care of you. It’s extremely important to make strong friendships, as well as, be an honest and good friend.

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