Most of you are probably either nearing the end of your first semester of college, or somewhere in the midst of your college experience. Where ever you are in your college journey, it’s not too late to begin really making sure you are making the most of your four years.
When I started college, I felt like it would take forever. I thought four years would last so long, and I’d have all this time to accomplish so many things. However, college went faster than I ever expected. So, I want to share with you my top tips for making the absolute most of your four years, and really enjoying the last time in your life where responsibility, for the most part, seems not as serious.
1. Get involved. My number one tip will always be the same. Getting involved is so profoundly important. I don’t think my college experience would be even a shadow of what it was if it wasn’t for the ways I got involved. I wrote for my school newspaper, I was a Resident Advisor, I was a Weekend of Welcome Leader, I worked for the Academic Honor Council. I was involved in various aspects of my campus life, and I appreciated what that offered me. If you’re struggling with college, getting involved is an immediate way to start feeling like you have a voice, like you are part of the community, and like you can make a change.
2. Make time to develop friendships. I miss the days where I could run downstairs and see my RA duty team, I miss the days where I had 40 people down the hall. I miss having hour to 2-hour conversations over coffee with my closest friends. I miss Friday nights with Chinese food and wine and Gilmore Girls with my best friend. BUT, I wouldn’t miss those things if I didn’t invest substantial time into cultivating and growing friendships throughout my four years.
3. Make a list of must-dos. I had a list of things I felt I absolutely needed to do while in college in order to leave feeling accomplished. I ticked off everything but studying abroad for my college’s January Term (one of the downsides to being an RA). I think having definite things that you want to accomplish is a great way to start! And I think there’s this amazing feeling when you check on the items on your list off.
4. Expose yourself to people unlike you. I think something that helped me learn so much about myself, my world, and my life is the exposure I had to people so different from myself. I come from a very homogenous hometown, where many people are religiously, politically, financially, and racially the same. Opening myself up to many different people who had lives, thought, and beliefs different from my own was one of the more rewarding aspects of my college experience. I recommend going through college with an open mind, and open heart, and the desire to have open dialogue.
5. Live on campus. Living on campus may seem frustrating (those pesky RAs down the hall telling you be quiet and not drink underage, the shared washer/dryer situation, the smells, etc.) BUT I think it’s a really really great way to meet people, keep informed about on campus activities, and feel connected to the community. I had friends who moved off campus, and they liked it, but they also complained about not know about things (like when tickets to our biggest basketball game went one sale). Living on campus is rewarding, and I highly recommend it!
6. Go to class. I know college is all about skipping class and taking naps through class and all that jazz. However, you’re paying quite a pretty penny to be in college. You get so much more our of the experience if you consistently go to class. So, go to class!
7. Explore your college town. I definitely miss the area I went to college in, but I’m thankful that I spent four years making not only my college but the town feel like home. I think exploring the surrounding area makes you feel less like you’re in a small college bubble.
8. Find your passion. College is a fun time to explore things you have an interest in. Explore life, take classes you find mildly interesting, and see what makes you happy. Though my college classes and activities I found my passion for law, and decided to go to law school. You never know what you’re going to discover.
9. If you find a calling, go to it. Sometimes things pull us in a direction that we can’t explain, but I feel it’s important that we follow it. There are things I was involved in that didn’t necessarily think were the best choice for me, but ended up being super rewarding.
10. Don’t take yourself too seriously. I think I was hyper-focused on the next step, rather than just enjoying every moment. So, to all of you in college, enjoy it. Take moments to enjoy it. Take moments to relax, take moments to go out with friends. Do your work, but sometimes it’s okay to attend a sporting event or on campus play and worry about reading later. Don’t be too focused on what’s next. Before you know it, you’ll forget to live.