Making the Most of Your Time in College
BY: DARRIN CHING
With tuition rates on the rise, one of the major concerns that college students have is whether or not they are having a rewarding college experience. However, what exactly does this mean? How should you take advantage of all of the opportunities that a college has to offer and have a fulfilling experience? Here’s how to make the most of your time in college.
You will quickly learn that time management is one of the most difficult aspects of higher education. There are so many things to keep track of (classes, work, events, etc.) and it is crucial to learn how to manage your time effectively. One way to do this is plan ahead and make a schedule. Get a calendar; whether it be digital or on paper, have it somewhere you can see it and easily update. Set times every week to study, hit the gym, do your laundry, etc. If you have important deadlines for papers, projects, or presentations, make sure to plan enough ahead of time in order to accomplish these tasks successfully – you don’t want to pull all nighters at the last minute. Don’t forget to schedule relaxation time! You will, without a doubt, feel burned out at some point. Make sure you have time to rejuvenate and relax regularly. Taking the time to take care of your body and mind will improve your ability to succeed. Experiment and find out what works for you. Although time management is a daunting and difficult task, should you be successful, you will have a load of stress taken off of your shoulders.
Colleges offer a wide range of tools for students, and it is vital to take advantage of them. More often than not, a university will have a variety of counseling services. If you’re struggling academically, feel free to visit academic advising. Academic advisors will help you register for courses and plan schedules or direct you to tutoring services, many of which are free of charge.
Colleges also offer career counseling for students preparing to enter the workforce. Career counselors will teach you how to effectively write cover letters and resumes as well as how to interview in a professional and convincing manner. In addition, they will teach and assist you in finding internships and jobs for the future. For example, I went to career counseling for help on my resume and was surprised when they also helped me find a part-time job that lasted an entire quarter. Unfortunately, many college students fail to take advantage of this service and have a hard time with job hunting. Give career counseling a shot; you have nothing to lose, only invaluable guidance to gain.
Psychological counseling is another form of counseling service that colleges offer. If, for any reason, you need someone to talk to, professional psychologists will confidentially listen to whatever you have to say and will provide whatever assistance they can. When my roommate was going through a rough patch, he told me he went to psychological counseling to simply vent his frustrations. The psychologist set up weekly appointments with him and I was able to see improvement in his mental health quickly. Although it can be intimidating, don’t be afraid to take advantage of this service.
Other resources that colleges offer include a gym that is more than likely free for students, a library with computers and printers, and health centers. All in all, college campuses offer a plethora of resources and services for the students’ benefit; it would be a shame not to take advantage of them.
Friends and Instructors
When entering college, almost everyone is starting from scratch. People want to make friends. Don’t be shy; say hello! If you live in the dorms, introduce yourself to your neighbors and get to know them. Get to know your classmates, especially those in your major; you’ll start seeing them on a regular basis. Find friends with interests similar to yours. Whether it be professional interests or just activities that you enjoy doing in your free time, finding people who enjoy the same things as you may result in lifelong friendships.
Get acquainted with your instructors as well; visit them during office hours. Learn to connect with them both professionally and casually. Whether from your professor or a graduate assistant, you will be able to gain insight that you may not otherwise receive from your peers. Another benefit from getting to know your instructors is that they may help you in your job search. Professors can write recommendation letters, or even hire you to work directly under them, allowing you to gain valuable experience. In short, having a large social circle and constantly expanding it is a key factor in making the most out of your social life in college.
Clubs and Greek Life
Along with all these resources, college life includes hundreds of clubs and societies. Whether you’re interested in singing, food, reading, or perhaps advanced martial arts, there is something for everyone. Involvement in one or more of these associations is instrumental in creating a memorable college career. Joining a club is a good way to not only expand on your interests, but to help you meet new people too. These people may later earn jobs in your preferred profession and, thus, become networking connections.
Another large part of the college experience is Greek life. Fraternities and sororities are organizations that provide a ready-made social life, allowing individuals to easily create connections with others. Do not be fooled by the representation of Greek life on social media. Greek life is not all about partying and having fun. Many fraternities and sororities take their members’ academic performance very seriously. They host study sessions and work with those who struggle. Some even have minimum GPA requirements in order to stay in the organization. In the end, being involved both on and off campus is something that college students should definitely participate in.
Your Own Adventure
Each person will have their own unique college experience. Be patient as you discover what works and what doesn’t work for you. Following the guidelines above will assist you in creating a memorable, exciting, and engaging college experience. In the end, your time in college is limited, and it goes by fast, so don’t waste a single second! Take advantage of getting to know new friends and professors, have fun and learn as much as you can, and finally, enjoy college to the fullest; it can be one of the best times of your life.