College is that time to live out your early 20s with a better grasp on the world, while also rocking your post-high school glow-up.
In high school, you’re figuring out your role in society and future career while your body is changing rapidly in more ways than you can describe. As your brain is essentially rewriting itself in real-time, it’s easy to make nonsensical decisions and lose out on opportunities you’ll never get back.
I found that during my freshman year of college I spent the majority of my time in a bubble and did not make the most of what college had to offer. It was high school all over again.
Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. It was the mid-spring 2020 semester of my freshman year and now I was forced to pack my bags and complete the rest of my college experience virtually. I once had ample opportunity to utilize my newfound freedom but for a whole year and a half, I was now stuck reflecting on everything I took for granted while sitting behind a computer screen.
As I entered my junior year of college, I now only had two years to make the most out of my college experience. It’s not every day you’re given a second chance, but this was mine and I was not going to throw it away, and neither should you.
Here are some of the dos and don'ts that can help you make the most out of your college experience:
Join a Student-Run Organization
One way you can get involved is by joining a student-run organization like the university’s newspaper, for instance. At the start of your semester find out when your school’s involvement fair is and, well, get involved! Walk around each table and find an organization that piques your interest, there is usually something for everyone.
Put yourself down on a few email lists and intend a meeting or two. Didn’t find what you’re looking for right away? That’s OK! You can join a student-run organization anytime during the semester but there is nothing wrong with putting yourself out there.
I’ve met some of my closest friends by getting involved. Being part of a student-run organization has also introduced me to so many opportunities like internships and career advice. I was able to find a group of people that share a common interest, something I could never find in high school due to limited resources. It also looks great on a resume.
Network Like Your Life Depends on It
A concept that was foreign to me before going to college was the idea of networking. Putting yourself in an environment where you have to meet new people can be challenging, especially if you’re a mega introvert like me. However, putting yourself in contact with other professionals can introduce you to once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that would’ve gone passed you right by if you didn’t put yourself out there.
Find university-run events to attend and introduce yourself to people. Join job fairs or even shadow a student for a day. Most colleges also host events that give career advice like how to structure a resume or skills on interviewing. Also, don’t be afraid to befriend your professors or make a LinkedIn profile.
Don’t Ignore Your Mental Health
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything your university has to offer which can easily lead to burnout. Make sure you’re taking the time for yourself and focus on making the right choices for you. Don’t be afraid to take a step back and go for a walk, listen to some music or take advantage of your school’s counseling services.
Don’t Be Afraid To Make Mistakes
Keep in mind that everyone’s college experience is different. Although it’s wise to make the most of the college experience because you never know when another pandemic can hit, it’s also just as smart to allow yourself to make mistakes sometimes too. I mean, we’re all human, making a mistake is only natural.
Dye your hair a crazy color that'll you regret looking back at pictures of it years down the line or get that piercing you've always wanted. As long as you’re staying safe and not doing anything illegal that can put you in harm's way, making a mistake can help you learn a lot about yourself. Like Hannah Montana once said, “nobody’s perfect.”
College is expensive, why waste thousands and not take advantage of everything it has to offer. You got this!
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