There’s plenty to think about during your college years. Money, academics, relationships, and what you’re going to be doing with the rest of your life are all at the forefront of your mind. You’re out on your own for the first time and having a lot of new experiences. It can be tough to navigate even in the best of times, but the tips below can help you have a better college experience.
Understand (Almost) Nothing is Forever
As a student trying to choose a major, looking at internships, and planning a career, it can feel as though you’re being forced to choose a life path with very little actual life experience. However, it’s important to keep in mind that what you end up doing straight out of college is not necessarily the same thing you’ll be doing two decades or even two years later. It’s not uncommon for people to change careers at least once if not multiple times over the course of their life. If you’re struggling with a decision on what to major in and what career to pursue, make the decision that’s right for you now and see where it takes you.
Manage Your Money Wisely
Most students take out loans to go to college, so it’s unlikely that you’ll graduate with no debt, but you can take steps to minimize that debt. Make a budget and try to live within your means. If possible, you can start paying off your loans while you’re still in school. You might also want to consider getting your first credit card. Students often get offers, and a credit card can be useful in an emergency and for building up a strong credit score.
Ideally, you should try to only charge as much on it as you can pay off each month so that you don’t have to pay interest although this might not always be possible if you do have an unexpected expense that you must cover with it. In that case, you should simply pay it off as soon as you can. It’s important that you choose the right card, including understanding what criteria you should use, and you can review a student guide to credit cards to help you make that decision.
Talk to Your Professors
Professors have office hours, but most students never take advantage of them. This is a mistake. You don’t have to be struggling with the coursework to stop by and talk to your professor about the course. This can be a great opportunity, especially if you are transferring from community college to university, to discuss your interests and start building a stronger relationship with them, which can be helpful if you later need to ask them for a reference. You might feel shy or awkward the first time you pay a visit to one of your professors, but they will almost certainly appreciate your enthusiasm.
Broaden Your Horizons
Rarely do you get as many opportunities to expand your horizons as you do while you’re a college student. There are many ways to do this. You could join one or more campus organizations related to your interests. You could find out about and apply for internships. You could look to studying abroad, one of the best ways to learn more about the world and improve your cultural competency. Another option is taking a class outside of your comfort zone. You may be surprised to discover an entirely new interest or even a new career path. In general, you should strive to remain open to new experiences and ideas, even if you eventually decide they aren’t for you.