People say college is the best four years of your life. Whether that will be personally true for you or not, there is no doubt that college is four years that you will grow and mature incredibly fast. It is important to stay on track and seek guidance, as needed, during this time. Below are three pieces of advice that can help you get the most out of your college experience.
1. Find good mentors.
Mentors can have a tremendously positive impact on your personal development, and yet their importance is often underrated. A mentor is somebody who you view as a role model and who can offer you guidance in your career or personal life. As you start to think more seriously about your career while you are in college, a mentor who is working in the field that you are interested in can be especially helpful. For example, if you are interested in working in the car industry, then talk to your engineering professors or upperclassmen that have had experience in the car industry through jobs or internships. They can tell you what their jobs were like, what they liked or didn’t like about their experiences, and how you can go about starting a career in that industry, too. If you are interested in graduate school, talk to your professors with PhDs or current graduate students. Ask them how they knew they wanted to go to graduate school, what they did during their undergraduate years to prepare, and what graduate school is actually like. Mentors can save you lots of trouble by helping you navigate obstacles that they have already been through. So find good mentors and take their advice seriously.
2. Stay goal-oriented. Remember your priorities.
College campuses are large places that are constantly bustling with activities every day of the school year. There are plenty of distractions, and if you aren’t careful, you can lose sight of your goals. First, take some time to write down what your college goals are. Examples include “doing well in my major,” “getting very involved in one club,” or even, “figuring out what I want to do for a career.” Once you have identified 2-3 major goals, devote yourself to achieving them. If you want to excel in your major, then don’t overwhelm yourself with too many other activities. People always tell you to “get involved” in college, which is great advice. However, don’t join 10 clubs in your first semester and drop the ball on your GPA either. You only have so much time and energy, so don’t spread yourself thin. Remember your goals and prioritize accordingly.
3. Surround yourself with good people.
When you come to college, you may be initially shocked by how diverse the student population is. There are students from all over the U.S. and the world. Each student brings his or her own set of values and priorities to school. While you should be open to meeting and learning from new people, it is also important to find a tight-knit, supportive group of friends. That group of friends can be from your classes, a club, a fraternity or sorority. The point is that they should be people who lift you up, not bring you down. Find friends who have common goals, are positive, supportive, and sincere. There will be plenty of times when you hit a bump in the road and will need good friends to carry you through. Find these people early on, and you will have a more meaningful, positive college experience.