Heading off to college is an exciting time in one’s life. It’s when you really start to feel like an adult – and people typically start treating you as one as well. It’s not only indepence from your parents that make it exciting, it’s also because your journey of deciding what you want to do with your life is just beginning. You learn as much about your future field of endeavor as you do about yourself. But, with any journey there is always that after thought of, “Boy I wish I’d known that going in.” So we are offering our 10 tips to help with your college experience.
#1 Don't Get Behind
If you’re on track to attend a post-graduate, such as a masters or doctorate, your GPA will dictate which school you will be able to attend. So don’t fall behind and hope you can catch up later. You need to keep your GPA for all four years. This also goes for if you don’t plan on moving on to graduate school. You need to keep up with your classes and businesses usually want to know your GPA – it goes on your resume.
#2 Watch Who You Socialize With
You don’t need toxic people in your life and it can be easy to get swept up in the social scene in college. Don’t hangout with people who treat you poorly or who have bad habits. There’s nothing wrong with having fun, but don’t forget the end goal – to graduate. You are who you surround yourself with.
#3 Take A Random Class That Interests You
College is a time to learn. Not just scholastically but a time to learn more about yourself. If there’s a class that interests you or a class that has an amazing professor teaching it, why not check it out? Not every college credit has to be applied towards your degree. Even if it’s not something you think you’d do for a living it might keep things interesting.
Just because you’re away from home and a parent is no longer telling you to “eat your veggies” that doesn’t mean you should let yourself go. Believe it or not, there is a reason you need to eat your veggies and exercise. A healthy body can sharpen your focus and self-confidence. Maybe get some workout buddies and turn it into a social situation.
#5 Rent a House
Freshman year you’ll probably have to live in a dorm, but after that you can decide where to live. If you decide to rent a house, you are socializing with others and learning how to get along with different personality types. By living alone you could slip into anti-social behavior habits and upping your “screen time”. As an added plus, renting a house with multiple roommates is usually more affordable than renting an apartment or living on your own.
#6 Go To Office Hours
Some may call this “brown-nosing.” Those in-the-know call it a “smart move.” Your professors see hundreds, maybe even thousands of students in their lifetime. Most of the time their students are just taking the course because it is a requirement, not because they’re interested. If you want to stand out, stop by and say hello. They won’t give you an “A” just for doing so, but they may give you some helpful tips for their course. It’s a great way to build an academic relationship. Don’t be shy about needing help or having your questions answered either.
#7 College Isn't Something You're Supposed To "Get Through"
That’s high school. College is a time when you’re starting to take courses in what you’re interested in doing for the rest of your life. So pay attention to them. Take advantage of all the opportunities your college or university provides. You’re paying for it. So, get the most for your money. Use your advisors. Use the help they offer when it comes to finding a job or internship. Pick your professor’s minds, challenge them.
#8 Make Friends With People Who Are Going To Be In Your Industry
Are you going into chemical engineering? Then take a look around your class. These are the people who will be working in your industry. This goes for any industry. Make friends with the ones who seem interesting and smart. These are going to be the people who will be successful and the ones you will want to know. They can be helpful down the road when it comes to finding work or having a successful ally on your side.
#9 Act Like You've Already Graduated
By that we mean get to know people in the industry you’ll be going into. Network with them like you’re already employed. Ask them if they’d be willing to meet for coffee on your dime if they’re willing to let you pick their brain for 15 minutes. People love to give advice to students. This can also be a way to express your interests about any internships their companies may offer students over the summer.
#10 Really Think About What You Want To Do
Too many people spend their college years floundering trying to find what it is they want to do with their lives. Now while college is certainly there to help you find your way, it’s not there to figure it out for you. The more you put into college, the more you will get out of it. The sooner you can narrow in on what you want to do the sooner you can make connections and land internships. If you wait until senior year, you’ll have wasted three years where you could have been networking, studying and finding job opportunities.
All in all, college is an exciting time. It’s your first big step in becoming independent and learning more about yourself. It’s also a time when you get to take classes that are specifically geared towards what you know you’re interested in. Just keep up on your classwork, don’t party too hard and you’ll have four years of memories to look back on fondly for the rest of your life.