It is the time of year when millions of 18 year olds pack up, move out and move onto college. If you are one of these students, congratulations! You worked hard to get here, studied day and night, volunteered, and loaded your college application with all the right experiences. It has consumed your life, and probably your family’s life as well. So, now with this goal met you get to relax and relish in your accomplishment right? Unfortunately, no.
Instead of waiting for college to happen to you, actively tackle your college experience with the following goals in mind: to graduate college with a strong sense of self; a chosen profession that reflects your skills, abilities, interests and values; and a great first job in that profession (or acceptance into grad school). There are five critical steps you can take to achieve this goal:
1. Engage with faculty. Seek out professors and advisors and talk about more than the assignment. Talk about life, careers, choices…theirs and yours. Learn from them, connect with them. They chose this career to help guide and teach young adults so take them up on it.
2. Take a variety of classes. 80% of students end up changing their major at least once, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. However these changes cost time and money. So consider all your options before finalizing your decision. Always had a passion for writing? Take a communications course. These courses will provide you insight into what you love to do so pay close attention to the courses you enjoy (or don’t) and why. Look for trends or themes in your likes and dislikes. This will all help you define that burning question: What do you want to do after graduation?
3. Join a club, attend a lecture, go to a TED Talk. In other words, explore your interests. If you find a topic, profession, or social issue intriguing check it out. You will learn a lot and not just about the topic. These experiences will lend tremendous insight into who you are and what you want to do. Do you connect with the people at the event because they are “just like you”? Is this a passion that you want to incorporate into your professional life or will it be a personal passion? Oh and you will be building your network in the process.
4. Secure Internships. There is no better way to explore possible majors and careers than through internships. The rewards are immeasurable! You will learn what you do and don’t want from your career, build a solid network of industry contacts, meet fantastic people, and hopefully have some fun in the process.
5. Make Friends. Some of the most important learning that happens in college comes from peers. Students who share your interest, and those who don’t, will help you grow. Students who have had different experience will give you a different perspective on life. Be open to new people, new experiences and all the growth that comes from them.
So go out and take control of your college experience. If you do you will grow, transform, and lay the foundation for a rewarding career.