2022 Hawai‘i College Guide: A Local Kid’s Guide to Surviving College

Tips to stay on top of academics, money and more.



Photo: Courtesy of Chaminade University



Scheduling Classes

1. With so many options available, pace yourself.  You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with hard classes, but you also don’t want to bore yourself with too many easy ones.


2. Before signing up for classes, check ratemyprofessors.com. Professors can often make or break a class and your GPA, so it is helpful to see what previous students have had to say.


3. Don’t stack all of your classes on the same days. If you have to, check if your professors allow you to eat in class and bring a lunch. Don’t starve!


4. Have some backups ready. There is a chance that as a first-year, you won’t get everything you want, so look for courses that may count toward your requirements, even if they’re not among your top choices.


5. Remember to check not just the times, but also locations. If you have back-to-back classes across campus from each other, will you make it? And remember, Hawai‘i kid, if snow is involved, it could take you longer to get there.


6. Interested in studying abroad? It might be difficult to find classes that meet your major requirements abroad, so save some of your core requirements to take abroad instead.


Getting Around

  • Research public transportation. Bus or metro passes are often included in a university’s student fees.
  • Split rides with friends. Riding by yourself in an Uber or Lyft can be expensive and sometimes sketchy, so travel in groups.
  • Find the nearest Zipcar. The minimum age for most car rentals is 25, but Zipcar members can rent a car at 18 with a valid driver’s license.
  • Depending on the size of your school, you may want to invest in a bike or skateboard to shave off minutes when getting from one class to the next.


College Guide: Jobs

Photo: Getty Images



Working Part-Time

  • Search the school’s job database. Campus jobs usually hire for the next year or semester, so more crop up near the end of term.
  • Look for “help wanted” signs on and off campus. Go on a walk downtown and keep your eye out around campus. Some jobs might not be posted online.
  • Walk into places where you want to work and ask if they’re hiring. Bring your résumé and leave it with them in case of an opening.
  • If all else fails, the dining hall is usually an easy place to get hired as a student.


Gearing Up

1. If you’re heading someplace cold, it’s best to buy winter jackets there to save money and space in your suitcase. Plus you can see what the others kids are wearing.


2. In many places, it will get dark around 4 p.m. during the winter. So consider buying a sun lamp to fight those dark afternoons and seasonal depression.


3. Be the cool kid from Hawai‘i with all the ‘ono Hawai‘i snacks—Spam, furikake popcorn, li hing mui sour belts—and a rice cooker. Spread da aloha.


4. If you’re lucky you’ll get a twin XL in your dorm, but most likely you’ll be stuck with a twin bed. Either way, college dorm beds are not comfortable. A mattress pad, however, is an easy fix.


5. Buy an extension cord. Your dorm will most likely be small with one outlet.


Money Tips

Download an app such as Venmo or Cash App. Every time you go out to eat with friends, come across a campus fundraiser or just need to pay your roommate for toilet paper, various apps and some banks let you do it instantly, so you can request and send money from a bank account.


Buying Books

  • Don’t go to the campus bookstore first! While it’ll be your No. 1 resource for school swag, the books are almost always pricier there.
  • Don’t buy or rent your books before the class starts. Even if the book is listed on the syllabus, there’s a good chance you won’t actually be reading it, or your professor will provide PDF versions of the chapters you are reading.
  • BookFinder.com is an incredible online resource—it compares prices of new and used books from more than 100,000 sellers, so you can be sure you’re getting the best deal.
  • Buying used textbooks is cheaper; plus you may find useful notes to help you ace the test. (Think of it as a free personal tutor.)
  • Check Amazon for textbook rentals. Anyone with a school email address can start an Amazon Prime Student account for half the usual membership price, which comes with free two-day shipping and access to free movies and music. (Amazon also offers a six-month free trial.)


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