How to College, A to Z

All nighter

You’ve packed up your old bedroom, you’ve enrolled in your first semester of classes, you’ve studied the campus map. Now it’s time to take college prep to the next level. Digital tools have gotten you this far—maybe you’ve even had paperless classrooms. But that’s exactly why paper and paper-based packaging are your secret weapon to college life: They can help you study better, learn more quickly and have more fun at school, letting you go beyond the screen. Follow our A-to-Z college survival tips to learn how to get better grades, meet new people and live on the cheap.

  • A is for All-Nighter. If you’re pulling an all-nighter, you’re gonna want the paper tools to do it right. Research shows that annotating text as you read roots the information in your memory. And who doesn’t love a flashcard? (Of course, pizza helps too.)
  • B is for Boxes. You’re moving away from home for the first time, so get familiar with corrugated cardboard boxes. Gathering a variety of types, from shoeboxes to wardrobe boxes, will help you transport your belongings with as little fuss as possible. The best part is that they are easily recyclable: just empty, flatten and recycle!
  • C is for Calendar. It’s easier to organize your life when you write it down. Keeping a paper calendar helps you prioritize studying, hanging out and, most importantly, sleeping.
  • D is for Dorm Door. Meet new people by announcing yourself to your dorm-mates with a door decked out with paper cutouts and signs. Make it interactive by hanging a pad of paper with markers for them to leave messages.
  • E is for Exam. Flashcard time! Use index cards to make a flash deck for yourself; they’re crucial for understanding the material. Once you’ve gotten the same card correct twice, take it out of the deck.
  • F is for Furniture. Light, sturdy and inexpensive—what more do you want from your furniture? Whether you go DIY or buy it new, cardboard tables, sofas and chairs might surprise you with their design possibilities.
  • G is for Games. Hosting game nights is an easy way to meet new people (and they’re compatible with school nights). Between board games, card games and imaginative play like Exquisite Corpse, your night just got a lot more fun.
  • H is for Highlighting. Interacting with reading material helps you retain information. Try this highlighting technique for memory retention and understanding the material: Read a chunk of text without highlighting, then go back and highlight just the key points.
  • I is for Internships. The experience and connections you make at your college internships will help you launch your career—and build your résumé.
  • J is for Job Boards. Need extra cash? The student center probably has a bulletin board with postings for odd jobs, many of which won’t be found online. Make visiting it a part of your morning route to beat the competition.
  • K is for Knowing Your Assignment. Paper planners can keep you on track with what’s due when. (And it’s soooo satisfying to cross something off a list.) These customizable, printable planner pages will help you nail it.
  • L is for Library. Studying at a library frees you from distractions. Once you’re ready to pack it in, take a whirl through the fiction stacks and find an unexpected leisure read.
  • M is for Macaroni and Cheese. It’s cheap, it’s tasty and its box ensures that the noodles stay fresh for months.
  • N is for Note Taking. Taking notes by hand helps you process information and ups your ability to recall key discussion points. Find out which note-taking method for understanding the material works best for you here.
  • O is for Orientation. Just like with a classroom lecture, freshman orientation throws a lot of information at you all at once—as you meet new people, you’re also getting important information about campus life. Take a notebook to orientation sessions to stay in the know and organized.
  • P is for Postcards. Use them to keep in touch with friends back home or off at other schools. And if you study abroad, sending postcards is a great way to help friends and family experience a bit of your adventure with you.
  • Q is for Quiz. Eighty-one percent of college students use paper to study for tests and quizzes. This is one place to follow the pack: Studying on paper helps you learn contextually, so your cramming is likelier to stick.
  • R is for Ramen Subscription Box. Trust us: You will eat ramen. Lots of it. So sign up for a ramen subscription box— more fun than standard bulk ramen, and tastier, too.
  • S is for Syllabus. It may be just a sheet of paper, but it outlines the next few months of your life in each of your classes. Keep them in a binder for easy reference.
  • T is for Theme Party. Start it off right with paper invitations, then kit out your dorm room with painted cardboard décor to make the night all the more memorable. Check out our ideas for New Year’s Eve, awards season, movie night and Halloween.
  • U is for University Bookstore. Obviously it’s the place for textbooks. But look beyond the obvious—college bookstores have reasonably priced supplies, clothes and snacks, and many offer study spaces and quick pickup for online orders.
  • V is for Vaccinations. You’ll have your standard vaccines done before arriving at school, but if you study abroad, you may need additional vaccinations. For some countries, you might even need printed proof of vaccination, known as a yellow card. The student health center will hook you up.
  • W is for Wall. Decorate your dorm room with your favorite posters. Cardboard tubes keep them safe during transport (no creases!), so hang on to the poster tubes when you first buy them.
  • X is for “Xtra” Credit. OK, we got creative with the spelling here—and you should get creative when pitching extra credit projects to professors. Go the extra mile and create cardboard models to demonstrate principles and theories in science classes.
  • Y is for Yardage. Tackle school spirit by making signs on posterboard to support your football team. If you’re watching from home, build a cardboard snack stadium to serve up some treats. Go team!
  • Z is for ZZZ’s. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, grab a paperback. Reading a book before bed instead of noodling around on your phone preps you for a good night’s sleep—the light from electronic devices stimulates your brain and can keep you awake.