Think about yourself in high school. Now think about yourself in college. Those are two totally different people, aren’t they?
College is when we grow from wide-eyed 18-year olds to “young professionals.” Something earth-shattering happens: we grow up. So what is it about those four years of glorified boarding school that makes us stop posting too many inappropriate Facebook photos and start getting our lives together? For a lot of us, it’s the failures – the growing pains – that turn college into our glory years.
8. Apply for completely random jobs
By the time we’ve declared our majors, we’ve each got a whole spiel on what we want to do with our lives. We’re trained to know exactly what we want and how to get there, step by step. But what about that lingering interest you have for working with the U.N. or snagging the Fulbright, even though you’re an accounting major? Getting a job is all about marketing yourself, and chances are, if you work hard enough, you can put together a killer pitch on why you’re the perfect candidate for whatever job you’ve got your eyes on.
7. Attend a church service for a different faith
Most undergrads spiritual identities are rocked when they go to college. Some people go from the straight-and-narrow to straight-up atheist in a matter of months, and vice versa. While you probably won’t switch from one extreme to another, you should explore what you believe and all the different paths to which others subscribe. Catholicism was a pretty foreign concept to me growing up so I found it incredibly fascinating to go to Mass with one of my best friends my sophomore year of college. Not only did it spur better conversations between the two of us about the reasoning behind our own respective faiths, but I felt better educated in defining and strengthening my own thoughts afterward.
6. Pick up and peace out for the weekend
It may seem a little “Thelma and Louise,” but spontaneously taking off for a weekend is a quintessential part of the college experience. Sure, we can skip a class here and there and not have it matter a lick in the long run, but once the real world hits us in the face after graduation, playing hooky is a big time no-no. So grab a group of friends on a whim and just drive somewhere. Go to the beach or the mountains; visit friends at another school for a big game day or date party; heck, throw some clothes in a car and drive to the Grand Canyon (true story: I’ve witnessed an impromptu Grand Canyon trip). Just make the most of your weekends and see all you can!
5. Say yes to an unwanted date
Say a mousey nerd asks you to dinner. Or a pompous playboy wants to take you out for drinks. Maybe you feel like a complete cougar agreeing to “study” with a sophomore two years your junior. Your first impulse may be to come up with a fast excuse to duck and cover, but think twice. Sure, you might not see him or her again, and it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll end up dating…but why not give it a chance? You might learn that the geek is actually hilarious or that the sophomore is really mature. You might just end up being surprised.
4. Take a super difficult (but awesome) professor
GPAs actually are all they’re cracked up to be. Lots of employers weed out candidates based on a minimum GPA requirement. But loosen up the reins on your academic schedule at least once, and go out on a limb: take the professor who is notorious for being a hard grader, but will show you how to think out of the box. As an English major, I’m paranoid about taking professors reputed for harshly grading papers, but I took a professor last year that made me develop my theses for weeks before actually sitting down to write the paper. I typically crank out papers the night before and come up with a thesis on the fly. But knowing I was being held to a higher standard pushed me to try harder and invest myself in my work.
3. Set up your own ‘last lecture’ series
It may seem a little fatalistic, but you should definitely look at college as the end of an era and thus treat it accordingly. Several schools have ‘Last Lecture’ series in which influential, established faculty members give a talk as if it’s their final take on life and what’s actually important. A recent student government president and current administrator at Wake Forest recently told me that she set up an appointment with a different faculty or staff member every week of her final semester in college. She met with myriad personalities, from an always-cheerful cafeteria server to the Dean of Students, and each person had an entirely different reaction to doling out life advice. Tears, shock and fits of laughter all jumbled together were the norm, but having a sense of closure is crucial to finding peace with ending your time in college.
2. Bomb a test
Doing poorly on an exam, paper or presentation is nearly inevitable in college. You may be a chemistry whiz that just can’t seem to grasp your world history class, or maybe you’re an art major simply dying in a required calculus course. Lots of us graduated high school with perfectly clean slates and were never truly challenged by a topic. But college is difficult…and exam grades are unforgiving. That first ‘D’ or ‘F’ will surely come as a wake-up call, but bombing will only motivate you to work harder.
1. Don’t study on the weekends
Enough said. I asked a recent (and employed, notably) graduate what her biggest regret was from college, and without a second thought she blurted, “I wish I had gone out a lot more. I stayed in way too often.” Sunday nights are for studying. You get Friday and Saturday nights off…treat them accordingly.
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