If you’re like most recent high school grads, college is the experience of a lifetime. It’s likely the first time you’ll have your first taste of independence, higher learning and living away from home. That said, it can be an overwhelming time, too. There are so many options when it comes to how you spend your days that you’re liable to feel lost trying to make the most out of your (possibly) final academic experience. Here are a few guidelines that’ll help you map out some priorities when you’re wondering where to put your energy.
College is about studying, but it isn’t JUST about studying. If you’re someone who left your hometown to attend college, odds are you didn’t bring many friends or family members with you. You might not have realized it, but they were a huge system of support, and now they’re much farther away. Making new friends at school will not only ensure you have a bit of social life, but it’ll also mean you’ll have people around you that know exactly what you’re going through. Your parents and old friends will still be there when times get tough, but only your fellow classmates will be able to cry with you about that Organic Chemistry final you all think you’re going to fail.
A great way to make those friends we just mentioned is to join extracurriculars. Not only are they activities that are neither studying nor partying, they’re also places where you’ll find like-minded people. Another benefit is that extracurriculars are ways to explore interests you may have that aren’t covered by your classes. If you’ve always wanted to learn about journalism, but you’re studying biology, see about helping out at the school newspaper. Conversely, it may be that there are activities and clubs that will serve your major. If you’re majoring in political science, student government is a great way to gain a practical application of the principles you’re studying if you’re not ready for an internship.
Explore the Area
If you left home to go to school, consider it four years of living very cheaply in a new city. If you’re headed to a school in or around a big metropolis (think UC Irvine to Los Angeles), this goes double for you. Get out and explore your new neighborhood and region. It’ll be an education in and of itself, and it’ll broaden your mind to the way other people live in a way your campus experience won’t. Plus, if you find yourself wanting to stay in the area after graduation, it’s not a bad idea to start forming a professional or social network as early as possible. It’ll only help you.
Surprise! You must also do something with your degree once you leave college! If you don’t believe that, click here, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell. Unless you have a trust fund or have already managed to become independently wealthy, you’ll need to get a job after graduation. So while you’re making friends, exploring your new town and starting a botany club, remember to hit the books. The education is what you’re paying for, so get the most out of it.