Hello again! I am back after completing my GRE studying and taking the test this past weekend (HOOORRRAAAYY!). This means I finally get to reflect on one of the best experiences I’ve had in my 25 years of life: COLLEGE!
Yes, you heard me right! College (also referred to as “university” in many places of the world) was one of the most freeing and passion filled times of my young life. It gave me time to develop and grow in ways that I never thought I would and it gave me a different outlook on my educational experience! So today I am going to share a few tips for making your college experience AMAZING!
Tip #1-Research: Before you ever step foot on your college campus, you should do a little research on the organizations the school has to offer. Also, research the new city you will be living in. Before I went to college, people told me I wouldn’t have any time to join clubs and organizations like I did in high school. Let me tell you a little secret: THEY WERE WRONG! In college, you will want to join organizations to socialize, network, do something meaningful, and above all HAVE FUN! You cannot study 24 hours a day, so join a club or two! Also, you will want to leave campus so know what the city has (or doesn’t have) to offer you!
Tip #2-THOU SHALL FIND YOURSELF A MENTOR– You heard me right! Yes, you are an adult now, but you don’t know everything. Having a professor or staff person at your school who you can talk to and ask lots of important career questions to is crucial for helping you navigate the college experience. Remember, your mentor does not have to be your academic advisor (mine surely wasn’t). A good mentor will listen to you and encourage you, but also critique you and challenge you to do better. The best way to identify potential mentors is to first know yourself. What are your goals? What sort of career do you want? Now identify a few professors that could possibly help you figure out how to make those goals a reality and start communicating with them. Let them know what you are interested in by visiting them at office hours or talking with them after class.
Tip #3 Find three places– There are three very important places on your college’s campus and you’d do well to know where they are- The Counseling Center, The Career Center, and the Tutoring Center. Find each one of these and remember where they are. Also, USE THEM! Don’t be afraid to use the help your tuition dollars pay for on your campus!
Tip #4- Stay on campus as long as you can– Every college campus is different but the EASIEST way to get connected to your campus and other students is to live on your campus. It seems silly but you will be surrounded by an academic and intellectual environment (with access to the library for late night studying) and a highly social environment where you can talk to people and share your ideas freely! Remember: You are only young once and you can only enjoy campus life as an 18-25 year old person when you are 18-25 years old. Don’t miss out on that opportunity!
Tip #5- Practice a healthy lifestyle– Take this from the girl who gained 20 pounds in one year of college-Remember that you aren’t going to have your mom making sure you eat vegetables and fruit anymore. On practically every college campus there is a cafeteria that will offer a variety of meals and you are paying for those meals. Use them to your benefit! Eat a balanced diet and be careful not to make too many late night trips to McDonald’s and IHOP! Also, practically every college campus has an athletic facility (aka gym) where you can work out or play sports like badminton and basketball! If you’ve never exercise regularly this will be a great time to start! It’s not only a good way to get into shape, but a great stress reliever as well!
Tip #6- Positivity– Surround yourself with positive people who want to see you succeed! Make sure you are deliberate in the kinds of relationships you take part in. The people you have the most contact with should be those who make you happy and believe in you. If a person is constantly negative around you, you will eventually feel the effects of that negativity. Be careful with who you give the title of “friend” to as well. Learn to be comfortable in reassessing relationships and making changes when needed.
Tip #7- Find the opportunities– Don’t be afraid to ask about summer internships and programs and organizations that may help you reach your goals of graduating! Use summer jobs and campus jobs to build your skills and network with others. Jobs like resident assistants often can get you a paycheck and/or a free room! Also, attend a conference in your field of study or your intended career field. All majors will have a conference you can attend, so ask your professors about them. Also, ask if your department if there is funding for students to attend conferences. These conferences are CRUCIAL for information and networking within your field (and non-stop FUN!).
Remember: College is not just about attending a class and getting a degree, it’s also about developing and growing as a human being!
Links: Make your college experience AMAZING! Programs you should know:
McNair and Student Support Services (think Upward Bound for college students)
CIC (for those thinking about graduate/professional school: summer internships at Big Ten schools and so much more!)