How to Make the Most of Your College Experience
By Sam Coren
With everyone and their brother saying that college was the best 4 (or 5) years of their life you might feel a little pressure about making the most of your time there. Especially if you're a college-bound high school senior. I'm sure this time of year you're all pysched to be graduating high school, but have you given much thought about your college game plan? After all, getting into college is half the battle - the other half is what you're going to do when you get there!
So if you're a bit overwhelmed about the road ahead of you here are a few things to keep in mind:
Get to really know your professors.
Professors will hold office hours outside of class for students to get extra help. Even if you don't need extra help, it's good to stop by once in awhile to see what they're working on or just have a talk about current events. Professors are a wealth of information and can be the ones to help you out later in your college career or even post-college in the form of recommendations for internships, jobs, or grad school.
They can also let you know who's hiring when it comes time to get that diploma and move on. Getting social with your professors makes college much more interesting than just showing up to class and doing assignments.
Participate in student groups.
Extra-curricular activities aren't just something you used to get into college. Pretty much any campus has numerous student organizations for you to get involved with and meet people. Also, most schools will make it very easy to start your own student group if you're motivated enough to get something off the ground.
Aside from the great potential to grow your social circle, student groups offer countless leadership opportunities for you to learn skills and gain experience you wouldn't normally get inside the classroom. When I was at Northeastern University I was heavily involved with the school's radio station, WRBB. There I learned the ins and outs of radio broadcasting and got to learn a ton about the Boston music scene.
Whether it's intramural sports, a faith based group, community service groups, a hobby group, a student publication, a music group... Find something you're passionate about and get involved!
Do an internship (or two, or three).
Internships and co-op programs are a great way to get on the job experience while you're still in school and start building your resume beyond burger flipper or grocery cart jockey. You'll also start establishing more professional connections which are invaluable when it comes developing your career. Don't forget to checok out the StudentAdvisor Guide to Internships!
Consider doing a study abroad program.
The one regret about my college experience was that I didn't get a chance to do a semester abroad. Study abroad programs offer those who don't get to travel much a chance to immerse in a completely different culture and earn credit for school. If you're doing language classes it's a great way to build your conversational skills.
Visit your friends at other colleges.
This one sounds a little odd, but hear me out. First, it's important, especially if you go to a very rural college, to get out of your campus "bubble" once in awhile. Seeing how things are done differently at other colleges is a fantastic way to spark innovation for ways you can help make your own campus better.
Visiting other campuses while you're in college will also give you a different perspective on your own school as well - did you really choose the school that's the best fit for you? Also, if you're a commuter student at your own school it gives you the opportunity to experience on-campus life, even if it's just for a weekend.
Do you have any suggestions for new college students on how to get the most out of undergrad life? Share them in the comments!