The key to surviving college? Choose experiences over things, according to new research.
Results showed today’s on-the-go and multi-tasking generation of college students vote access to a car, visits home to see family, and staying connected to old friends on social media top of their “college essentials” list.
Independence (financial and physical) and making new friends also define the college experience, according to results.
The new study examined the college experiences of 2,000 current and former students and unearthed the real-life lessons and college survival tips to be passed on.
Simply being able to get up in the morning reliably with an alarm clock and taking time out from the mania to get a little alone time also numbered among the top survival tips for anyone about to tackle college.
The research, which was conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Zipcar, the world’s leading car-sharing network, focused on the college experience of 2,000 current or former college students and found a mix of life lessons or hacks to help students have their best year yet as they head back to campus.
The theme of independence, financial awareness, and being able to embrace that new-found freedom by getting away from the madness was prominent inside the essentials list. Apparently, cars are more important to college students than their phones, wallets and laptops.
In fact, more than half (53 percent) of current and former college students would choose their car over their cellphone.
The results showed that the freedom college brings is enhanced by access to transportation with the ability to roam off campus with ease — only 26 percent of students ended up not having a car on campus, proving college students need quick and efficient ways to travel around their new surroundings.
While cars are important, students expressed certain downsides associated with actually owning a car on campus. Drawbacks included the expense — like gas money — finding parking before class, paying for a parking spot, and overall traffic.
“Many students are living on tight budgets and looking for ways to cut costs without sacrificing the freedom they need to get off campus,” said Dan Cohen, Zipcar senior marketing manager, university. “Car sharing provides on-demand access to a car for quick errands, long road trips with friends, or an extended trip home for the holidays.”
The results also showed that college students are perhaps far from the perceived party animals they’re made out to be — all-nighters spent studying or working was the second most formative moment, followed by hustling to pay bills alongside their studies.
When asked to put forward their most defining college moments the results reinforced how important gaining independence is to them throughout their academic years. Students cited simply living on their own as the thing that changed them the most.
And those lessons outside of the classroom arguably left a much greater impression than the ones learned inside it, the process of prepping meals, getting off campus to explore and going on road trips made America’s top 10 defining college moments.
The inevitable process of falling in love as a student also made the top 10 list followed, perhaps tragically, by that classic college heartbreak experience at number 10.
But the emotional rollercoasters and time spent hustling does pay off — 85 percent of those that have graduated feel like college actually prepared them for the real world.
“College is about the experience as much as the degree,” added Cohen. “We’re proud to have built a network of car-sharing programs at more than 600 universities worldwide that allow students to further enjoy the ride with access to ‘wheels when you want them’!”
Top 10 college essentials
- Access to a car
- Visits home to see family
- Meeting new friends and staying connected to old friends on social media
- An alarm clock
- Time to myself
- Meal plan
- Independence to take off and try new things on my own
- Access to off-campus stores
- My own TV
Top 10 defining college moments
- Living on my own
- All-night studying/working
- Paying my bills
- Preparing meals for myself
- Late-night talk sessions with friends
- Getting off campus and exploring surroundings
- Cleaning my apartment/room
- Falling in love
- Going on a road trip
- Having my heart broken
Top 10 skills acquired in college
- Making new friends
- Time management so I could pursue personal passions
- Building a budget and managing my finances
- Navigating my new surroundings
- Paying my bills on time
- Cutting expenses to save money for essentials or bucket-list experiences
- Appreciating other cultures
- Advocating for self with professors or roommates
- Getting creative with transportation so I could get places
- Getting a side hustle to earn extra money
Nuggets of advice for college students from alumni
- Always be prepared
- Be more social
- Have better time management
- Cherish every single moment
- Do something you love
- Don’t be afraid to fail
- Don’t stress so much
- Have fun
- Never give up
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