Education YouTuber & Blogger | English Studies PhD

Back-to-School: College Advice from a College Student & Instructor (Budget, Cooking, Classes, Life)

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Last August, I posted every Friday as part of my back-to-school month series. I’ll be sticking to my usual bi-weekly schedule this year, but last year’s college advice is still relevant, so I’m focusing on those four blog posts today. In case you weren’t reading my blog at that point, I’ve linked and briefly summarized each post here and have added two additional tips for every topic. The first original post includes advice for saving money, the second is all about college classroom tips, the third about kitchen tools and easy recipes, and the last about helpful YouTube channels. I definitely recommend taking the time to read my older posts, especially if you are a college freshman and/or a college [grad] student moving to a new city/state.

Budgeting Tips

Check out my original post here for plenty of shopping tips and tricks.

Tip 11: I raved about the library app Axis 360 in my budgeting post last August (FYI, I’m still obsessed with it). There are two other library apps I also recommend: Libby and Hoopla. Libby doesn’t have a “wish list” option, unfortunately, but it’s still another app where you can check out books as long as you have a public library card. Hoopla is more focused on video rentals, and it has quite a few about meditation, yoga, pilates, home workouts, and education. I recommend it for anyone who doesn’t want to adventure out to the gym or anyone who is looking for some guidance when it comes to self-care practices.

Tip 12: If you’re looking to increase your knowledge about a certain topic but there are no classes about them at your school (or there are but you can’t fit them into your schedule or don’t want to pay for them), look into the various platforms that offer free online courses. I love Coursera for this, but there’s also iTunes U and Khan Academy (disclaimer: I’ve never used KA). The courses are self-paced, especially if you’re not trying to attain a certificate (which you have to pay for). I’ve taken courses on content marketing and online teaching via Coursera this summer, and I’m amazed by how many courses can be found on this site and others like it. [If you are willing to pay for courses, just not as much as you’d need to pay for a course at your college, then udemy is another option to check out alongside Coursera.]

College Life Tips

Here’s my original post in which I offer ten tips for college students based on my experiences as a grad student who also teaches undergrads.

Tip 11: Check out Pinterest for plenty of tips about college life. Here’s my board all about this topic to get you started. [If you’re a college instructor, here’s my board about teaching tips.] You can also check out my post about using Pinterest as a research archive. There are plenty of productivity apps out there, too. If you want to learn more, check out my blog post or my Pinterest board about this topic.

Tip 12: Combine all your assignment deadlines into one list, rather than just referring to your various syllabi and planner spreads when needing to check a deadline. Include the assignment names and due dates in order of when they are due, and make sure to include the time of day they are due, as well (class time, 8 a.m., 11:59 p.m., etc.). I suggest taking a picture of this list with your smartphone, so that you can refer to it when on the go. [Or you can use a digital notebook that syncs to your phone and/or tablet.] The physical copy can stay on your desk at home or taped to the wall next to wherever you get most of your work done at home.

Tip 12: Combine all your assignment deadlines into one list, rather than just referring to your various syllabi and planner spreads when needing to check a deadline. Share on X

Cooking Tips

Whether you are in a dorm or an apartment, figuring out what kitchen tools you need and finding some easy recipes to make is pivotal for college life. My original post offers kitchen tips along with snack and meal recipes.

There are amazing YouTube Channels for finding healthy and easy recipes, of course, such as The Domestic GeekClean and Delicious, and Mind Over Munch. But, here are a couple new quick and easy snack recipes that provide health benefits while also tasting delicious. The first  was inspired by this recipe, and the second is something I basically always create when I have a sweet potato in front of me.

Morning Fresh Smoothie

Blend together:

Coconut water (the amount depends on how thick you like your smoothies)

Fruit (my favorites are strawberries and pineapple, but use whatever you love/is cheap that week)

Then add:

Spinach (if you’re not a veggie lover, I suggest starting with just a small handful and then work your way up to about 2-3 cups worth per smoothie)


If you need exact measurements before you feel comfortable experimenting:

3/4 cup coconut water

1 cup fruits (total)

1 cup spinach (eventually 2-3 cups)

Sweet Potato Dip

Wash your sweet potatoes.

Add little slices in them with a knife.

Microwave them for 12-15 minutes (depends on strength of microwave).

Let them sit for 2 minutes to cool off.

Cut them open and scoop out the insides in a small bowl.

Mash up the sweet potato with a fork until smooth.

Add seasonings to taste (I usually add a few dashes of cinnamon).

Use as a dip with your favorite multi-grain crackers (or eat as a side).

YouTube Channel Tips

YouTube is fantastic for learning new skills and entertaining yourself while on the treadmill. In my original post, I list 10+ channels that can help you create a balanced life in college and beyond.

New Channel Tip #1: If you’re looking for a channel focused on productivity and/or study tips, I suggest checking out Thomas Frank’s videos. His advice is applicable to more than just college students and instructors, but I feel it’s particularly helpful for us because we have so much flexibility in our schedules (in comparison to a 9-5 office job) and therefore so much room for procrastinating. I included this channel in my original post as an honorable mention-type recommendation, but this year I want to bring more attention to it.

New Channel Tip #2: If you’re a new college student, Mariana’s Study Corner is a channel with tons of videos that can help you create some great note-taking and study habits. If you teach college freshman, I would recommend a lot of these videos to them as part of an “additional resources” LMS folder. I’d actually recommend this channel over the Ana Mascara channel I listed in my original post.

Final Thoughts

As a final reminder, while I’m offering 8 tips here, you can find over 40 more by reading through my older back-to-school posts. Going forward, my blog will center more on teaching and course design tips, tools, materials, ideas, and resources for graduate teaching assistants (GTAs), adjuncts, early career professors swamped with research responsibilities, etc. In that vein, in my next post, I’ll be playing on the concept of my “tips for college students from a student who is also a teacher” post by offering tips for college instructors (especially new GTAs and adjuncts) from an instructor who is also a grad student.

>>If you found these tips helpful and want to make sure you don’t miss any future teaching tips/tools/resources, here’s the link to subscribe to my blog’s email list. As a subscriber, you’ll receive access to my resources library, which includes all my blog-related PDFs.<< 

If you’re a college student or teacher, what advice would you give to new students about excelling during the college years?

Looking to have a good year on campus? Here are my top pieces of advice as a college student and teacher. My tips cover classes, eating, budgeting, and more. #college



  1. blackboardwellness

    This post has great information. I would have found it useful when I started college. I especially like your delicious food suggestions!

    • Erika Romero

      Thanks for the feedback! I’m teaching a class of freshman this upcoming semester, so I was really inspired by them to write this back-to-school update post. I actually just finished a serving of the smoothie!

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