College means different things to different people. For some, college simply provides an opportunity to get a degree and for others, it’s all about making connections. College does offer several other benefits, however, and it can be a truly life-altering experience for you if you so choose. Here are seven ways you can make the most of your college experience.
1.) Choose the Right Major
There’s no shame in changing your major while you’re in school if your initial choice isn’t the best match for you. It’s important to pick a major that not only appeals to you but will lay down a solid foundation for your future career path. Some majors lend themselves more obviously to jobs than others.
If you study engineering, it’s reasonable to assume that you’ll be an engineer. Other types of jobs can follow more organically from your studies. For example, a degree in English or philosophy is a good first step toward law school. Regardless of the major you choose, be sure to pick something that you’ll enjoy and find rewarding.
2.) Appreciate Diversity
College gives you the opportunity to meet a wide variety of people from different cultures and backgrounds. You can make this experience even richer by taking courses that will broaden your world view. For example, you can study history, anthropology, literature or language to get a better idea of other cultures. All degree paths have plenty of room available to take extra courses in different subjects.
College campuses also often have many types of cultural activities, from classic music concerts to Native American pow-wows. You can find listings of these activities on your college’s website or posted in the campus student union.
3.) Get Internships
While you’re a student, it’s easier to find certain types of work study or internship jobs in your chosen field. Many of these jobs are unpaid and only available to students, so it’s important to start your search early. Creative industries like television, book publishing and video game design often require internships, but other industries may also have these jobs available. Taking an internship in college could make it easier to get a full-time job in that industry after graduation.
4.) Learn to Share Space
Many people never had to share tight spaces or work through the problems of shared space as children. This means that living in a dorm room or apartment with roommates is the first time many people even need to share a space, and these skills can be very helpful later in life. Learning how to divide chores, set ground rules and work through problems can help make it easier to live with a significant other later in your life.
5.) Learn to Manage Your Money
College provides a unique buffer period between living at home and being completely independent. College is one of the first times in your life that you’ll be in complete control of your finances, and it’s also when you have the first bills to pay. Learning how to budget and manage your money early on can help save your credit history and financial future; it will also set you up with the skills you need later in life. Even if you have financial aid, you might want to get a part-time job so that you can save money or cover some of your expenses and reduce your reliance on student loans.
6.) Network with Colleagues
Remember that the people you go to class with today may be your coworkers later. Work on forging both personal and professional connections with your classmates and professors. You never know when you might need them to provide references, letters of recommendation or a foot in the door with various job opportunities. Staying in contact with people you meet in college can help open doors that otherwise would be closed to you.
7.) Study Abroad
Various study abroad programs make it possible to travel outside of the country and learn about other cultures. These programs can be covered by financial aid, and you will usually be able to stay for a lower price than if you were making a similar journey by yourself. Most study abroad programs are associated with language programs, but there are some opportunities to travel to English-speaking countries as well. Check with your advisor to see if there are any programs you can join so that you can experience world travel and education.