It’s no secret that college is a quick affair. One day you’re figuring out which building is where and which professor is which, the next you’re making your postgraduate plans.
So – how do you ensure you get a good return on your college investment when the years are seemingly flying by?
If you’re an incoming student, a current student, or just now looking to get backinto the classroom, these five tips will ensure you squeeze every experience you possibly can out of your college experience.
Spend your time wisely
For most students, college is the busiest time of their young lives. We go from long summers and short school days to nearly non-stop studying and weekends where we’re lucky if we can spare one or two evenings for ourselves. But this can be as much of a blessing as it is a curse, as it allows us to learn how to manage our time as well as pack as much as we can into a few short years.
The first thing to do? Write every deadline you get on a calendar as soon as you can. Look at this calendar every day. Where can you knock out an assignment early? Where can you squeeze in a chapter or even a few pages of your studying? By thinking proactively about your work, you’ll spend less time stressing and, when you do have time for some relaxation, you’ll feel content that you earned it rather than worrying about your workload in the back of your head.
Know when to splurge and when to save
Unless you’re cruising on a full-ride scholarship, have access to free books and materials and won a raffle for a paid-off apartment lease, money will play a huge factor throughout school. So rather than waiting for your finances to become a problem, attack your financial situation head-on. Make a budget that anticipates the big costs first, and track how well you stick to it.
As for your miscellaneous expenses, always ask yourself: a) How can I save a few extra bucks here?, and b) Why might splurging a bit in this scenario make sense? If you know there’s a way to save some dollars, for example by packing a lunch instead of eating out, do it. On the flip side, if spending a bit extra on a trip home or a more fuel efficient car can help youin the long run, bring the idea to someone with experience. Determining your money style can also help you plan your budget.
Value the life lessons
College is much more than just a long string of lectures, quizzes, midterms and finals. In fact, some of the most important things you will learn in college won’t even have anything to do with what’s written on the whiteboard.
The best way to get the most out of your investment is to treat every experience like a learning experience. Get out of your comfort zone, raise your hand, participate and ask questions. The more you put yourself out there–even if you’re not always in the mood–the more confidence you’ll have to continue to dream bigger.
Make meaningful relationships
It’s one thing to be a social butterfly who talks to everyone in class but has few actual lasting relationships. What’s even better, though, is to spend your time fostering lasting relationships with a few people who truly are on the same page as you.
This might not mean you come from similar backgrounds, or have all of the same interests, but when you click with someone, pursue that friendship. Study partners and peers can be the people that ultimately push you the furthest throughout college and beyond.
(Also, be sure to check out the basics of networking here.)
Don’t take things so seriously
You’ll learn quickly in college–if you haven’t already—that always taking things to heart will be the death of you. You forgot your assignment in your printer at home? Prep your materials the night before next time. You didn’t get the grade you wanted on that test? Tell the professor you’re disappointed and ask how you can improve. Your weekend coffee plans with friends fell through? It happens.
Nobody breezes through college, no matter how much it may seem some do from the outside. But rather than stress over every mistake or disappointment you face, don’t sweat the small things. You’ll find that the quicker you brush off the mishaps the quicker you’ll be able to collect yourself, learn from the setbacks, and keep on moving forward.