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If a four-year college degree is on your horizon, it’s essential to get started off right. That means taking care of all those under the radar tasks that so many forget about. A good example is scheduling. Most first-year students find it a challenge to juggle a social life and academic obligations. The homework burden comes as a shock to some young adults, so it’s imperative to make a detailed daily and weekly schedule. Other top priorities include getting a credit card, learning about tutoring resources, arranging for summer employment, and joining at least one professional extracurricular club. Here are more details to help you begin a college career the smart way.

Set Study & Social Hours

Everyone’s situation is different, but the majority of those new to collegiate life struggle to balance studying and social life. There’s more homework than in high school, so be ready to log at least two hours per night hitting the books. Set aside several hours on each weekend day to catch up, prep for tests, and work on semester projects. Be careful about socializing. On larger campuses, there’s something fun going on every night, and it can be hard to resist the urge to do it all. Try to set study hours for at least four nights per week, giving yourself one free night if possible. The same rule applies to weekend socializing. Focus on academics one of the two days and allow one for socializing.

Get a Credit Card

One of the wisest financial moves you can make is to apply for a credit card. Keep in mind that most cards are designed for working adults who have both a credit history and regular income. The good news is that there are several card options for students who are financially responsible and already handle their own money. The goal is to get the card that is right for you based on spending habits, credit limits, interest rates, and several other factors. By establishing a history of on time payments, it will go a long way toward helping young people build a credit history and eventually get higher limits and better rates.

Learn About Tutoring Resources

Most academic institutions offer free tutoring to newcomers who feel the pressure of academics. While there’s nothing wrong with the programs, most don’t include instruction by licensed teachers. An alternative is to use the internet and find teaching professionals who operate side businesses as tutors for all major subject areas. The lessons are focused, priced right, and can help struggling pupils survive and thrive in courses like pre-calculus, basic science, history, literature, and more.

Set Up a Summer Job Ahead of Time

Gain access to the best summer jobs and internships by scoping out opportunities during the first academic semester. Check with school advisors about what’s available locally and on campus. Large universities hire students to work in libraries, maintenance crews, and dozens of other jobs during the summer months. If you’re away from home, spend the New Year’s vacation hunting for summer work several months in advance. Consider applying for internships in what will be your major field of study.