For me, this past summer has been all about graduation. With only one semester left as a University of Minnesota Gopher, anticipations and anxieties of “the real world” are setting in. I’ve contemplated post-graduation life before this summer, but now that it’s so close, I’ve found myself investing copious amounts of time and energy into thinking about what I want, and acting on it. As I’ve been assembling my aspirations, I’ve noticed what ideas seem very obvious to me now, what things I regretted doing, and what things I didn’t. Here are some college student tips that I’ve found.
- Class can and should also be experience
If all you go to lecture for is to take notes that you will only ever look at again when studying for the midterm, then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity that most classes, especially major or minor courses, offer. I regret not investing more time into projects or assignments that could have also served as examples for a portfolio. I could have asked more questions about how my imitation report would have fared in the industry, and gained valuable insights from professors (who are typically incredibly experienced resources). This, to me, is one of the best ways to get everything you can out of your education.
- Don’t graduate before finding out what you love
I almost didn’t. It wasn’t until the end of my junior year that I took a class that made me more excited than Sunday afternoon Starbucks. Before that, I was panicked about graduating college, having spent lots of time and money, and still not really knowing what I wanted to do. Don’t get me wrong, lots of people don’t know exactly what they want right when they graduate (or for many years after that). I’m not talking about a company or a position; I’m talking about a skill or a value. One friend of mine is passionate about leadership. She knows that no matter where she ends up, she wants to work in a place that includes and encourages volunteerism, teamwork, and diversity. Another friend of mine switched from pre-vet to nursing, because she realized her passion was in improving the lives of people rather than animals. When it clicked for me that entertaining people was critical to my happiness, it almost completely changed my professional goals. I may not have realized this about myself, or that it could apply to my studies, had I not continued to search for what I was passionate about learning.
- MAKE IT HAPPEN
While at an informational interview in July, I asked what employers are usually looking for in a candidate. The response? The most impressive candidates are the ones who not only have examples of their work, but who show initiative, and a genuine desire to make that work happen. Despite being someone who often brings ideas to fruition, I’d overlooked how important that can be in terms of academics and professionalism. If you want to learn web design, take a class. If you think your resume needs touching up, seek out opinions from others. If you want a better chance at finding a job or internship, don’t send three applications, send 30. Sometimes, I think it’s easy to forget how much power we have over our everyday lives. Remembering that you have the ability to make it happen is important for post-graduation preparation and life planning in general.
- Keep yourself happy
The best and simplest advice my mom has given to me in the past three years is: “Take care of yourself.” Somewhere in between classes, jobs, and extracurricular activities, I had forgotten to do just that. Schoolwork and socializing is important, but the stress of these things can be the heaviest burden of all. You’re a college student, not a superhero (even though it might feel that way sometimes). When I started reprioritizing time for the little things that made me happy, it positively impacted my classwork as well. I’d also like to think that by keeping yourself happy, the first three college student tips on this list will be much easier to do.