Recently, I started a new job at the university where I work. When we moved here, I was lucky enough to get a job in the IT department at the same school Andy is attending. Although my undergrad work is in Computer Science and I do love technology, long-term I wanted to do something that allowed me to work more directly with people.
Long story made short, I now work as a Student Success Advisor for the undergraduate students. My new position, in addition to teaching my first year studies class last semester inspired me to think about what is really important during a person’s time in college. So, here’s my two cents on the matter.
1. Take school seriously.
If you take the traditional route and move out to go to college right after high school, it can be amazing how much freedom you now have. It can be easy to forget that what keeps you there is passing your classes. Taking courses is an essential part of college; without classes, you have to go home. If you pay a little attention, you’ll be surprised at how much you can learn and do.
2. Don’t take school too seriously.
Now that I’ve reminded you that the school part of college is important, I’m going to tell you that your test, it isn’t the end of the world. Should you work hard? Yes. Should you want to do well? Of course. However, it can be easy to think that your life is going to end RIGHT NOW if you mess ONE THING up. When campus starts closing in on you, and all you can see is tests and papers, take a step back and breathe. Get some ice cream or read the news. One glance at the global poverty statistics would remind me that there are much bigger things in the world than my term paper. It is good to remember that now and then.
3. Try new things.
Most colleges work really hard to offer new and fun experiences to their students. Take advantage of them. You might find out that you love square dancing but hate sitting through musicals. Who knows? You won’t unless you actually give them a chance. Be spontaneous. For most traditional students, college is a time when your schedule is wide open. Take those opportunities to have fun. Decide to go to the beach Friday afternoon on a whim. You can. Go for it.
4. Learn how to be a leader.
College is the perfect environment to hone your leadership skills. Generally speaking, every four years the entire student population turns over which means that almost every student leadership position on campus is going to come open during your time as a student. In the wider world, leaders can get entrenched for years and years without ever giving you a chance to break in. That is rarely the case on a college campus. Even if leadership is new or scary to you, don’t let that stop you from giving it a try.
5. Figure out who you are.
This is probably the most important of all and it isn’t something that you will be over when they hand you a diploma. During my time in college, I learned that my faith is an integral part of who I am. I realized that I am a person that is going to be unsatisfied if I’m not actively working to make the world better in the lives of people around me. My journey in this area is far from over, but it would be a tragedy if I never took the first step. Thinking about who you are can be hard because you are forced to question your beliefs but it is so so worth it. I would not be the person I am today without taking the time to ask, “Why do I do/believe this?” Going away to college moves you away from home and family and allows you to reflect on the question with less bias than you would have before. It can be scary when you’re in the middle of it but keep pushing through.
What do you think?