As a college student it might seem like you hear the same advice over and over again, from the importance of going to office hours to the need to participate in extracurricular activity.
There are some useful pieces of unconventional advice that often go unsaid which is some of the best advice.
Stem Subjects – Explore your interest in mathematics, engineering, or the hard sciences. Subjects such as history, literature, languages, business, law, or art can be studied in college or those that you could learn later, through personal or professional experience, or through independent reading.STEM subjects are hard to master through casual reading and tend to be best mastered in a classroom setup, where you have teachers and classmates to help you work through difficult problems, with specialized equipment and instruction.These subjects are good to know whether you want a career in them or even if you just want the intellectual satisfaction.
You know best – Adjust your schedule around when YOU are the most productive and creative. While most people would advise you to do your work first thing after class, in the end, you know what’s best for you.
Take time off – Don’t be afraid to take time off. Many students are ashamed of leaving for a year, because it implies they couldn’t handle the rigors of school or had to take a break to discover themselves. Yet these days, gap years are becoming increasingly popular.In fact, most students find their time off to be one of their best college experiences. They can use it to pursue internships, travel the world, live independently, and do what really matters to them. It can help you discover what you want to do after graduation.
Diminishing Marginal Returns – The Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns applies to your GPA, too. Of course, you should maintain a respectable GPA, but know that once you cross 3.5, it matters less. The difference between an A and an “A”- is not worth you endlessly poring over a textbook instead of spending valuable time with friends or working on extracurricular activities.Take advantage of this time to become the most amazing version of yourself. You can think of college as an incubation period, where you can develop your skills and character. You are likely never going to have as many resources, like-minded peers, free hours, and opportunities as you do in college again.
Socialize – Leave your door open in the residence hall. It’s one of the best ways to spontaneously meet people and show you are open to new friendships.Focus on your relationships more than your studies. With the plethora of free information available online, you can always learn about something later. However, you will probably never again have the opportunity to be surrounded by so many like-minded people who you can stay connected with for years to come.
Listen to music – Make a new music playlist every month. “In college, more than ever before, songs will attach themselves to memories,” says Jones. You should make a new mix CD or mp3 folder just to document whatever phase of life you are currently in. “Ten years out, they’ll be as effective as a journal in taking you back to your favorite moments.”
Be a Model – Take a lot of pictures. They’ll be fun to hold onto and look at in years to come.
Be okay with being sad – Recognize that it’s OK to be sad. With all the pressure of college becoming the best four years of your life, it’s hard to admit when you’re not happy. However, college is also a major time of transition. For some people, it’s the first time they are away from their friends and family and have to find themselves in a completely new environment. You will probably be lonely at times, and sometimes feel overwhelmed, but it doesn’t mean your college experience is any worse than anyone else’s. In fact, these are growing experiences that will probably be most valuable to you later on.
Be intentional in your friendships – It’s easy to just latch on to the first friends you make in the beginning of freshman year, but this isn’t always the best idea. Decide what you are looking for in a friend, and then find people with those qualities and seek out time with them. You won’t magically find your best friend.
Don’t watch TV – “When you’re living on a college campus with 400 things going on every second of every day, watching TV is pretty much a waste of your time and a waste of your parents’ money,” says Jones. If you’re going to watch, at least watch with friends, so you can create memories and make a valuable social experience out of it. —Daniel Wetterstrom
Communicate – Understand that the biggest cause of roommate conflicts is a failure to communicate. If you don’t start being honest with each other early, it only gets harder in the future. A great thing to do is to create a roommate contract in the beginning of the year, so you can be clear about your responsibilities and make sure you are on the same page about what is and isn’t allowed in the room.
Don’t be too quick to specialize – Specialization is that it makes you into a specialist. It cuts you off, not only from everything else in the world, but also from everything else in yourself.
Build yourself, not your resume – Many students will do extracurricular or gain leadership positions just because they want to impress future employers. However, if they focus more on developing themselves as strong, well-rounded people, they will be far more memorable in interviews and in the working world.
Start to figure your life out now – Spend time thinking about who you are and what you eventually want out of life. Do something ambitious and difficult before you even feel ready — don’t put it off just because the career world seems too far away.
Make time for yourself – While it is tempting to always surround yourself with people, alone time will become extremely important to you in college. Carve out some time to reflect and think about how you are doing.
Don’t be proud of your college – make your college proud to have you – Many students fail to go the extra mile, and a frequent regret is that they didn’t contribute more to their college campus while they had the chance. Try to be one of those students that your professors and classmates will remember in years to come.