Make the Most of College: 10 Tips to Make College Worthwhile
- Find the right college. Yes, before you even get there, make sure you go to a college that fits you as an individual. Not only is this imperative to get the education you want, but also the sanity you deserve. Going to the wrong college can lead to mental breakdowns, a depressing four years, and an education that gets you nowhere in life other than thousands of dollars of debt. If you are an city-loving, artsy student, it might not be a good idea to go to the rural, jock school. If you are the party loving extrovert, you might not want to go to the small, technical school. Think about it beyond the reputation.
- Make friends. Its almost impossible not to, but make sure you make a lot of friends at college. This extends beyond finding a drinking buddy or dating the girl from Biology – this is also about making contacts for professional growth. Yes, you can still go drink with them, but these are the future leaders of tomorrow. Make sure you connect with your peers since they may be helping you land a job in the future.
- Participate in extracurricular activities. Another easy one. This one is imperative for not only personal growth, but professional growth. Your education only takes you so far and its up to you to do step outside the realm of what is required and pursue constructive activities in your free time. Make sure you find time to experience a variety of opportunity while at college: join a club, join a fraternity/sorority, volunteer for a philanthropy, etc. Don’t go overboard, but not only will this develop character, but could help land an internship/job down the road.
- Enroll in random, interesting classes. Taking classes outside of your major is growing in importance across America. Employers want well rounded individuals and this well help you get there. Have a technical major? Take a creative writing class. Have an interest in fish? Take an Oceanography class. Trust me, it will help you in your field of study more than you know.
- Choose a useful major. Yes, you can do whatever you want when you grow up, but taking the time and money to go to college is an investment. Make sure you make something of the investment – choose a major that will help you get a job that you want and pay the bills post-graduation. Taking on $100k loans and majoring in Photography isn’t the best idea. A dual major as Photography and Journalism would be a better choice.
- Pick up a minor. While many students are focusing on figuring out what major they want to declare, you should also be deciding what minors to take along with it. Don’t worry – you don’t need to figure this out on day 1. However, once you figure out which direction you want to go, it is highly recommended to find a minor that compliments it.
- Experience different cultures, foods, races, religions, and perspectives. One nice thing about college is that it gives you an opportunity to meet a lot of new, different people. The world is a diverse place that extends beyond the bubble confines of your childhood. Take the time to learn about it. Make friends from different cultures and try at least one type of foreign food before graduation day.
- Learn important lifestyle habits. You are on your own now. Make sure you develop habits that carry over well to the real world. This involves eating healthy, exercising, getting good nights rest, being punctual, practicing good hygiene, and being mature about any “experimentation” that might be going on. I’m not saying to go drinking, but if you do – be smart about it.
- Manage your money. Squeaking by on Ramen Noodles and saving up enough for a weekend bar crawl is more educational than you think. Financial responsibility is huge. Try not to rely on your parents bailing you out. Try not to take on massive amounts of credit card debt. Even a ridiculous decision such as skipping a meal to afford happy hour later is providing a life lesson – much better than just throwing it all on a credit card.
- Get an internship and job. College is a lot of fun, but make sure you remember the point of it all – its for a career. The best thing you can do is to get yourself an internship over your summer breaks. The more internships the better, but you should try to get at least one. More importantly, make sure you get a job lined up for post-graduation as soon as you can. The worst thing you can do is graduate unemployed. Best case scenario is to start off with a decent resume and a few job offers before Christmas break senior year.
- Have fun. Be mature and responsible, but let loose. This is the best four years of your life guaranteed. Don’t let it pass you up.
I was miserable at college until I transferred. I had to find the right college for me. After that I could enjoy myself. I think most of what you said here is good but it was hard for me to get into the social aspect of college.
My one and only tip is: college is the time to experiment. Get it out of your system while you can. Best years of my life.