15 Things To Do Before You Pick Up Your Cap and Gown
Some must-have experiences before graduating college so you can make the most out of your college career.
By Jennifer Truong, University of Oklahoma
College is the land of opportunity for new experiences. There’s new people and new events happening all the time, everywhere. Here’s a list of a few things that I think are necessary to having a memorable few years at your university.
1. Study abroad
Just do it. Colleges usually offer tons of different locations and programs for you to choose from. Chances are at least one or two will match up with your major. Promise, you’ll come back with some good stories to tell! “This one time in London…” sounds a lot better than “This one time in band camp…”
2. Join a student organization
Just like study abroad programs, there’s tons of student organizations. I know some schools even have a quidditch team. It’s a great opportunity to make friends because you know that the other members have the same interests as you.
3. Attend a leadership conference
I know, this isn’t the first thing you think of whenever you think of exciting college experiences, but leadership conferences are great opportunities. You can usually get information about one from a poster or emails that your school sends out. I’ve been to several, and at every one, I’ve learned new things about myself and how I can take advantage of my own strengths to be a good leader.
This should be self-explanatory! Giving back is great and giving back in college means you get to do it with you friends. Win-win situation, am I right? At OU, there is a campus-wide volunteer day called Big Event where different organizations are assigned to different volunteer sites in Oklahoma City and Norman, OK. Your university will undoubtedly have some similar volunteering opportunities.
5. Road Trip!
Road trips are awesome. You’d be surprised how fun they can be when everyone on the trip doesn’t have a ton of money to spend. It requires getting creative with your plans and trying new things!
6. Go to a football game.
I’m not the biggest football fan (basketball, anyone?) so me saying this means something. You definitely can’t get me to go to every football game, but going to at least one is worth it. There’s nothing like being around thousands of people cheering for the same thing and no other place to show your school spirit like inside the stadium.
7. Get an internship
As a student, you are a very attractive prospect for companies. Take advantage of your position and gain some experience out of it. Not all internships are paid, but honestly, experience is priceless so sometimes you just have to go for it. Internships are also great because they can lead to future job offers!
8. Be friends with an international student
Besides offering study abroad programs, universities usually also host students from international universities. International students offer a different perspective on school and life, in general. Plus, you can have someone to visit and show your around if you end up in their home country!
9. Check out the college nightlife.
College is a great time to go out because what’s better than going out with some friends after a stressful week at school. It’s the best way to let loose.
10. Attend a themed party.
Themed parties are fun because there’s less worry about what you’re going to wear. Sure, you still have to figure it out but you have some guidelines and you have room for creativity. My personal favorite was “Be My Date” where everyone was supposed to dress up as his or her favorite day of the year. Some great ideas were Black Friday and Earth Day.
11. Attend a concert on campus.
Concerts are fun. Period. What’s even better? When they’re near you and they’re free. Some of the free concerts that my university has held are Owl City, Iron and Wine, Shiny Toy Guns and Karmin. It’s also an excellent chance to check out some new music that you might like. If you don’t? Hey, didn’t cost you anything!
12. Befriend a professor.
Yes, professors are people too. This means they’re quirky, they have a sense of humor and they exist outside of class. If there’s a teacher you like, talk to them outside of class and get to know them a little better. It’s a plus if they’re a professor within your major! Recommendation letter, please?
13. Crash a party.
Go to a party you weren’t invited to! Just take someone with you. You’ll be surprised how friendly people can be. Tip: Go to an international students’ party. They’re very keen on getting to meet new people and you can always talk about each other’s countries to keep the conversation going.
14. Take a class that has nothing to do with your major.
I’ve definitely taken my fair share of classes that have nothing to do with my advertising major. I’ve taken classes like Greek tragedy, understanding of dance and religion in everyday life. The beauty of being at a university is that the chance to learn about your small interests is right at your fingertips.
15. Turn 21!
Obviously, this isn’t something you have to actively pursue to accomplish, but when it comes around, celebrate it! No matter what you do or how many people are there to celebrate with you, you’ll have some good stories about your monumental birthday to tell for years to come.