Every four years the Winter Olympics come around, reminding the world of terms like slalom, triple-axel, and mogul. Similarly, about every four years a one-time freshman graduates from college, bearing with them some reminders of their own.
Three recent grads sat down with me this week to help come up with and distinguish different kinds of student advice. What they came up with were pieces of advice that pertain to many different aspects of student life, but ultimately helped them succeed in coming out of school a better person.
“The most helpful advice you hear are the things that you find yourself thinking about on a daily basis. The reminders that keep you focused throughout the day.”
Ask questions – Asking questions comes down to making less assumptions. And the more you do it, you find it helps you in many ways. It can change how effectively you learn in the classroom, make you a more thoughtful studier, and improve your listening skills in conversations.
Take it one day at a time – Students have a tendency to constantly stress over the big picture – from their first memory, to where their life is now, even to their retirement. Doing this, though, can distract from the steps you need to get to where you want. Wake up each day ready to take on that day’s challenges, and only that.
“We all know college isn’t just about good grades. The best advice is advice for life. The things that help you succeed outside the classroom.”
Keep your receipts – When the cashier asks if you want your receipt, say yes. By taking receipts home and having a document you use to record each purchase, you force yourself to be accountable for your finances and develop budget-making skills.
Socialize – The label of “college student” alone gives you a unique distinction. You can be of any age, be headed down any path, and have come from anywhere. Use this as your pass to meet new people, make new connections, and build and maintain relationships. There’s a lot of freedom when high-school cliques and career stigmas are out the window.
…But do things alone – One of our recent grads talked about his insecurity when he would get lunch alone as a freshman. Now, he says, he understands that there’s a certain self-confidence gained by doing things alone once in a while. Don’t avoid alone time; use it to think, to enjoy, and to relax and you’ll grow inwardly as much as you do outwardly.
“There are lots of little things we learn in college that we don’t even think about as they happen, but once you graduate, you realize that they have helped more than you imagined.”
Be interesting – College is about broadening your horizons, and not just because doing so is fun and exciting. By trying new things you open yourself up to new perspectives on life and become more interesting than just your degree or GPA.
Be confrontational – Whenever you feel like saying something, say it. College is a great time to become better at saying how you feel – be it about a friend who you want to be more supportive or a topic you’re unclear about in class – and the more you do it the better your communications skills will be when you graduate.