Hello everyone! I’m coming at ya today with my top 10 tips to enjoy the best four (or in my case 3) years of your life aka college (also, I’m kidding about the best four years of your life thing).
Starting college is, like any life change, a little scary. Everything down to where you sleep at night to who you grab lunch with could very well be new. Don’t fear though! I have a couple of tips on how to get the most out of your time at school while avoiding being super lost.
Here’s a lil background on my college career: I’m a graduate of Ursinus College, a private liberal art school 25 miles outside of Philly. The school itself is really small with something like 1400 students. This is just a bit of a disclaimer since my school/experience is most likely going to be way different from someone who goes to Temple, then someone who goes to Villanova, then someone who goes to Haverford, and so on. So just try and view these tips generally and apply them to your situation!
1. Join Clubs
I know, I know. “Leighnah, I think clubs are stupid.” or “Leighnah, I don’t have time for clubs.” Well, I recommend you lose the attitude and make some time because clubs are FUN.
At my school, clubs and organizations were a major part of the social life. Many of my friends had their “Environmental club friends” or their “Ultimate Frisbee friends”. Whether it’s attending meetings, getting free food at said meetings, or hanging out on the weekends, clubs are an excellent way to meet people.
I joined the school’s newspaper the second semester of my sophomore year. I only wish I had joined sooner. 1. It was fun to have a hobby 2. I got to practice my writing skills 3. I ended up being “promoted” to the social media editor position which gave me skills in the field I want to go into as well as a bit of experience for my resume and 4. I spent some great time with my fellow editors who I might not have met otherwise.
One of my fondest memories of this past year was the night I had drinking wine, eating snacks, and watching The Wedding Singer with my fellow editors.
Overall, join a club. You don’t have to join a million, even just one will connect you to making new friends, learning some new skills, and did I mention the free food?
2. Go to office hours.
Let me tell you a story. Freshman Leighnah was put into a way too difficult foreign language class her first semester of college and had to drop the course. She chose a 300 level communications class to join with a professor she had for another class. After having spent 2 classes with this professor, she often went to office hours to fix her papers and just generally chat. Fast forward 2 years and Leighnah worked with this professor on two research projects, attended 3 conferences with her, and they are now pals.
All because of office hours.
Go and talk to your professors. They’re know so much and most are so willing to share their knowledge with you. This will make your papers and test grades better as does you showing up and showing that you’re willing to put in the work to get a good grade.
Additionally, professors make excellent references when you begin your post college job search.
3. Explore the area around your school
When I moved to Collegeville (yes, that’s the town name) I was excited to be so close to the city. However, going to the city everyday to explore wasn’t really realistic as it would be a 45 minute+ commute. I started to look just outside of Collegeville and found some of the coolest places.
Cute coffee shops, great restaurants, and an excellent crystal shop were all just minutes away from my school and without stepping off campus I wouldn’t have found them.
Don’t be afraid to take a night off eating at the dining hall or skipping class to look around. There’s so much beyond campus!
4. Do a major you love, even if it means changing it along the way
I went into school as an art history major and changed a semester later to a media and communications major. I had fallen in love with the communications classes I took and it just felt right!
If you take a few classes in an area and you get the feeling of wanting to know more, you almost enjoy writing the papers or reading for class, or you just FEEL that you might want to change, I say go for it. With a little hustle, graduating on time would not be an issue and you’ll be happier in the long run.
5. Do a major you love, even if others have something to say about it
On my campus, the communications majors were essentially treated like jokes. We didn’t do enough work, we all just chose this major because it was easy, and so on and so forth. I wish those people wrote my ov50 page capstone or did any of my 20 hours of transcription work for my research, but I digress.
Don’t do a major because you want respect. Don’t do a major because you want to make money. Don’t do a major your parents/partner/grandparents/hs teachers/etc. want you to do.
Do what you want. Who cares what anyone else thinks? You live with (and might be incurring major debt for) your decision.
6. Take a 300 level class, join a weird club, aka do something that scares you
Don’t let labels or “I haven’t done that before” or your friends not doing it keep you from doing something you’ve never done. Go for it! College is about trying new things!
7. Go out and have fun
This is self explanatory.
8. Stay in and have fun (minus the fomo)
Tbh, there are many a night where I stayed in with my best friend (hey Trina), had some wine, ate raw cookie dough, and watched Bobs Burgers that were a million times better then schlepping about a sticky frat house floor trying to find some non-Franzia to drink.
Follow your heart and don’t be afraid to stay in! Rest and relax with your close friends if you feel like it and don’t feel like you’re missing out. No weekend was really any different to me when I went out and it all sort of seemed the same.
9. Go to lectures and go on trips
Yes, take the time out of your day to attend a lecture given by an author or go on a rock climbing trip. These things are more difficult to come by as you leave school and most certainly not as cheap.
Take advantage of student rates or campus visitors. I’ve heard from experts in their field, seen art for free, gone on rock climbing trips, FOR NOTHING. NO MONEY AT ALL. Do it and learn beyond the classroom.
10. These are by no mean the best years of your life so don’t be afraid to graduate. But know, college goes by FAST.
College is another phase of life that people like to deem “the best”. However, I’ve heard people say high school was the best, college, their 30s, their 20s, so on and so forth. Don’t listen. It’s what you make it just like how post graduation is what you make it.
Take advantage of your time, but don’t be upset when it’s over! There’s so much ahead!