How to Make the Most of Your Time in College
get busy! knock off a few things from your bucket list
By Ashley Mungiguerra, Hofstra University
1. Be involved!
This seems pretty obvious, but it’s impossible to truly stress the importance of getting involved in college. Join multiple clubs, go Greek, get a position on a board, or maybe even start your own organization. However, don’t take on too much. It’s important to really be involved in all of your clubs- just showing up to weekly meetings won’t cut it.
2. Go outside.
You won’t make friends sitting in your dorm room. This is especially important your freshman year, when you haven’t quite found your niche. But it’s still a good idea to get out more during your upperclassmen years. Read a book on the quad, take a walk around campus- just get out of your room.
3. Find a balance.
In college you have to find a balance between going out every night and holing up in your room studying. If you’ve got a midterm coming up and your friends invite you to that frat party, it’s ok to say no. Hitting the books will always come first, but if your school calendar is clear, by all means go out with your friends! Keeping up with your social life should still be one of your goals in college.
4. Don’t worry about 8 AM classes.
We all have to take them. Even if you tell yourself, “I’ll never do that!!” it will happen eventually. Whether it’s the only open section, a pre-requisite, or just a class you absolutely have to take this semester, just do it. I’ve had two 8 AM classes, and while they’re not fun, sometimes it’s good to get up early- then you’re awake and ready to tackle other tasks early in the morning.
5. Do something unexpected.
Are you a pre-med student who’s interested in joining the radio station? Do it! College allows you four years to explore all of your options. Even if something isn’t relevant to your major, go for it anyway.
My school is just 25 miles from New York City, so while I’m often out exploring the city, I still like to get around and explore Long Island. Whether you’re in a big city or the suburbs, near the beach or in the mountains, its important to get out and see the area around your school. If you (or your friends) have a car, take a drive around. Eat somewhere off-campus, go to the movies, find something interesting that you wouldn’t normally see in the school’s brochure.
7. Get to know your professors.
You’ve probably heard this a million times, but its true- get to know at least one professor each semester. Stop by during their office hours, ask for feedback on an essay, or just chat with them after class. Professors really appreciate it when students take that extra initiative, and it might lead to a grade boost at the end! The best reason to become friends with a professor is that they can write recommendation letters for jobs, internships, or scholarships in the future. Make sure you stay in touch when class is done, whether it’s through a quick e-mail or stopping them on campus to talk between classes. I became friends with one of my professors last semester and she ended up writing me a recommendation for my tutoring job!
8. Study abroad!
This is probably the most important thing to knock off your college bucket list. Don’t let the fear of travelling or the high cost scare you away. There are countless resources both in and outside of your university, and your study abroad department will answer any questions you have. Once you graduate, you become tied down with a job and lose that opportunity to travel as often. Studying abroad, whether for a summer, a semester, or a whole year, gives you an invaluable experience that you will carry with you for the rest of your life.
9. Find a great internship.
Regardless of your major, finding an internship will give you a head-start on your career. Employers love seeing that students took the extra initiative to get an internship, and it also proves that you’re more experienced! There’s only so much that you can learn in the classroom, and internships give you insight into how a real office functions, allowing you a different perspective on how your future career might look.
10. Take an interesting class.
Yes, your major is crazy and your schedule is full. But if you have one extra spot during the semester, take a class you wouldn’t normally sign up for. Political science major interested in ceramics? Dance major interested in marine biology? Go for it! You’ll meet new people outside your major, make new friends, and learn something you would never have even considered.
11. Go to a sporting event.
My school got rid of our football team a few years ago (the money went towards building our medical school) but we have dozens of other sports teams that are ranked highly among other D1 schools. Basketball, soccer, and lacrosse are all popular and draw a crowd. Get a group of friends together and go support your team! I spent several weekends this fall at soccer games with my friends- it’s a great way to socialize and get outside. Even if you don’t like sports, college games are tons of fun!
12. Go on a trip with your friends.
You’re only in college for a few years, and while you’ll make lasting friendships, you won’t be able to see your friends every single day for very long, as people go on separate paths after graduation. It’s important to make as many great memories as possible while you can. Go on a road trip, go camping, check out a part of your state that you’ve never visited before! Stock up on bulk snacks before you leave and try to stay in hostels to minimize the cost. Maybe even organize a group spring break trip! If you’re really feeling adventurous, visit a friend from high school at their college. I spend every spring break in Los Angeles with my best friend while she attends school there. Either way, travel as often as possible!
13. Participate in school traditions.
Every semester before finals, Hofstra hosts a late-night breakfast, where students can take a break from studying to enjoy a (free!) meal provided by the school. It’s a great way to relax for a while, hang out with your friends, and eat! Whether it’s the homecoming festival or a midnight breakfast, whatever fun traditions your school has, go be a part of it!
14. Find your passion
College is all about finding yourself. Figure out what you like and what you want to do with your life- as scary as that sounds, you have so many opportunities and so many people to support you along the way.