Getting the Most Out of Your Time in College
You finally made it to college and you're ready to completely immerse yourself in the experience. One way to make sure you get the most from your time on campus is to set some goals upfront. Before you get too deep into your first semester, think about what you want from your campus experience and how you can get it. Here are a few ideas for possible goals.
Goal 1: Choose a Major
This might be the most important decision you make in college, since it will likely determine what you do with your career after you graduate. If you're not sure about how you want to focus your studies, try some of these tips:
- Narrow down your options using the list of majors found on your school's website
- Review the course catalog and sign up for classes that sound interesting.
- See if your school offers information sessions for different majors and sign up to attend
Academic services centers on campus can help you assess your interests and make decisions about what major suits you best. If you're considering a few areas, visit academic departments and meet with faculty and students or talk to your instructors in your favorite classes.
Goal 2: Plan a Realistic Course Load
It's easy to get excited about taking a lot of courses you're interested in, but you don't want to overdo it. If you're a full-time student, you'll want to make sure you meet the minimum credit requirements to be considered full time (usually at least 12 credits), but you want to avoid taking on too much work. When you're choosing your courses for the next semester think about:
- How long you plan to be in college before graduating
- Maximum course load allowed by your school
- What other activities you have going on
- How much time you'll need to study for each course
Academic advisors can help you choose a schedule that works for you. Plan to meet with one before you register for classes each semester.
Goal 3: Stay Focused
Distractions are a part of life on a college campus, but you'll need to be disciplined and able to balance your study and play time to avoid falling behind in class. Performing well in your classes can help you find a career or get accepted to the grad school of your choice, so you'll want to make sure your grades are good. To stay focused, make sure you schedule time to do your homework, complete assignments or prepare for a test.
If you're struggling, seek out study groups or on-campus tutoring services. Visit with your instructors during their office hours to have your questions answered. Also, most colleges have writing labs and study skills workshops you can take advantage of.
Goal 4: Join Student Organizations Related to Your Major
Joining a student organization while you're in college is a good way to meet new people and acquire skills you can use in your career. Most college campuses have a variety of student clubs, and you should be able to find one that aligns with your selected major. A student organization can enhance your college career by
- Providing opportunities to network with business professionals or experts in your field of study
- Teaching you about available careers in your field of study through guest speakers or seminars
- Offering community service or career-oriented projects that enhance your problem-solving, leadership and critical thinking skills
Check in with your student services center or look at your college's website to find out about the various organizations available. When you're deciding which club to join, consider your interests and future plans first, then talk to other students, your academic advisor or one of your professors to help you decide.
Goal 5: Get Practical Experience
Before you settle on a career plan, take some time to get practical experience, through internships or cooperative education, to make sure the career path you've chosen is right for you. An internship can present opportunities to network with professionals in your selected field, which will be beneficial once you graduate. An internship can also help you apply the knowledge you've learned in the classroom to practical situations and enhance your resume with valid work experience.
Find out if your college has internship fairs that you can attend to meet with potential employers. You'll need a resume to present to employers, so plan ahead and bring a few copies with you to the fair. Your career services center can also help you locate internships.