Four years might sound like a long time, but it will fly by faster than you realize. Before you put on that cap and gown and accept your diploma, there are a few things you absolutely have to do in order to get the most out of your college years. This time is a rare opportunity to grow, learn, and do things that you probably won't have the opportunity to do later in life. But since it is probably your first time being on your own, the decision of what to do might seem a little overwhelming. Use this list as an excellent guide to help you navigate your way in-between courses, and make these years in college some of the most memorable of your life!
Even if you're not a sports fan, don't think this one isn't for you. Most colleges work really hard to get as many students as they can to come out to the games - things like discount tickets, great seats, tailgating, etc. the list goes on and on. Why? The teams appreciate the students out there, being loud and rowdy and cheering the players on. It's a great excuse to get together with some friends, paint your faces, and just blow off some steam all while cheering on your school's team. Not only is it fun, but it will also make you feel more connected to the school and you're bound to make a few memories while there.
One of the best parts about college is that it gives you the opportunity to explore and discover what you like. Unfortunately, that moment of self-discovery isn't going to arrive while you're scrolling through Instagram at 2 in the morning. Not only do clubs give you a chance to learn something new, or grow an existing interest or hobby, but it's one of the best ways to make friends. Don't worry about feeling a bit awkward at first, everyone feels that way. Even if you show up just to learn about coding, planes, books, or whatever, you're bound to make a friend just by being in proximity to people doing the exact same thing as you. It's a rare opportunity, and one that sadly isn't so prevalent in the real world - so take advantage of it while you can!
We know, it's not the most exciting thing in the world, but future you will thank us years from now! Remember that there is life after college, and when you're applying for your first "real" job and they ask you about any relevant experience you're going to wish you'd taken our advice here. Internships aren't only a great way to get some hands-on exposure to the job you want, but they also teach you about things like office etiquette and give you the opportunity to build some professional connections as well. It's a competitive world out there - give yourself the best possible chance for success!
Nobody can succeed all by themselves, and having as many people as possible in your corner is going to help a lot when you're going for future jobs. Having a professor vouch for you, whether as a job reference or for writing a recommendation letter if you plan on going to graduate school, is a huge advantage that not everyone has. Taking that first step doesn't have to be dramatic. In fact, we'd recommend simply introducing yourself to them at the beginning of class, and then sending an email asking them if you can meet them for office hours. While there, tell them what your professional and educational goals are, and see if they'd be willing to lend a hand. You will probably be pleasantly surprised!
If you happen to be one of the many people who took out student loans to pay for college, start thinking about paying them off sooner rather than later. There's a very simple reason why it's better to not let those loans sit - during your time as a student, the U.S. Department of Education will pay the interest while you are enrolled at least half-time. This is huge since student loan interest can get pretty high. The more you pay off now, the less you'll have to worry about in the future which is something your bank account will be extremely grateful for.
Do you know what one of the most amazing things about college is? You literally have hundreds of staff, professors, and tutors who can help you with things that are pretty tough to do by yourself. Since you know you're going to need a solid resume in the future, you might as well get to work on it now. Before going to your college's career services center, bring your list of skills, experience (volunteer is fine as well), and contact information. It's one day for a few hours that will save you a massive headache in the future.
For some, roommates are a necessity, for others roommates are a must. Even if you're the kind of person who prefers their own space - we'd highly recommend getting a home or apartment with at least one other person during your 4 years. Living with someone else isn't as easy as the movies and Netflix shows make it seem - there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes. Learning how to organize a cleaning schedule, room arrangements, and sharing space is extremely important and something you will likely do at some point once you settle into a long-term relationship. Take this time to learn how to live with someone else, and discover the type of people you like living with, as well as the ones you don't.
When people say travel somewhere in the context of talking about college, most assume they're referring to studying abroad. While we highly encourage going to a foreign country for at least a semester during your time in college (it's both extremely fun and extraordinarily educational) you don't have to go quite so far. You should enjoy this newfound freedom that you have, and even just taking a road trip is a worthwhile endeavor. Traveling with friends in college is much easier than traveling while an adult - nobody has to worry about jobs, families, or other engagements. At this time in your life, it should just be friends hitting the open road!
We're not trying to sound like your grandfather when we're talking about social media, we know that it's important and has tons of perks. However, it's important to remember that, like everything, moderation is key. There's a lot going on at your campus as you can already tell from this list, it's up to you to get out there and take advantage of it. While we're not telling you to delete your profile and throw your phone in the local pond, we are suggesting that a couple of nights a week, you put your phone down and see what everyone else is up to.
Try something new! We know this sounds super cliche and we're already cringing, but we have to say it anyway; College is the time to discover who you truly are. Take advantage of this moment to learn a few things about yourself: your interests, likes, dislikes, the sorts of people you enjoy being with, and what kind of person you want to be. We don't expect you to totally understand everything when you graduate - life is a constant journey of self-discovery - but with all the opportunities you have on campus, exploration is easier than ever. So get out there and try something you never thought you would. Who knows? It might just totally change your life.