As I watched so many of my friends graduate from college this past weekend, I can’t help but wonder how my first two years flew by. I’m an upperclassman now, and I’m sure before I know it I’ll be graduating just like my former peers this past weekend.
However, I intend to make the best of the years that I’m here, and so should everyone that is seeking an undergraduate education. While I can’t give advice on how to make the best of all four years of your undergrad, here’s how to make the best of at least the first half of it.
1. Branch out
In your freshman year of college, it’s easy to get stuck with the same group of people, whether they are your hall mates or the people you sat with in a class on the first week of school. And it’s good to have a group of a few close friends. However, this shouldn’t be your only group of friends. You shouldn’t only be going out to lunch with these friends, or only going out on weekends with these friends.
Instead, try making lunch plans with acquaintances you have from classes to get to know them better. Join a club that your close friends aren’t in and try new things. College is a new world and a new experience filled with varied people and personalities. It would be a shame to miss out on getting to know someone that you wouldn’t otherwise meet in any other setting.
2. Invest your time in a few clubs that mean something to you
This might seem contradictory with the “branch out” tip, but seriously: while in college you can and should try new things and immerse yourself in unique experiences, don’t join 10 different clubs and only show up to their big events. Instead, join a few clubs that you truly enjoy and invest your time into them. Apply for their executive board. Help coordinate the events. Attend the meetings. Really get to know the people in the club.
In college, especially, you have more opportunities to impact the university community with your involvement in extra-curriculars. There’s more freedom than there is in a high school club. So don’t just join clubs for the sake of making friends or for another space filler on your resume. Join clubs that you truly care about and clubs that you enjoy being a part of.
3. Go to office hours
Seriously. I know that you probably feel that you don’t want to go talk to your professor after you’ve already sat through a class with him or her, and when you already have a ton of reading or work to do for that class anyways, but professors have these hours for a reason. Even if you don’t need help on any of the material, it’s good to just stop by and ask them questions about the subject in general.
Moreover, in your first two years of college you’ll probably be stuck in large lecture classes for your introductory courses. Office hours are the perfect opportunity to get to know your professors better and for them to get to know you. Who knows, you could even get a recommendation out of it.
4. Give yourself a break
It’s well known that our generation is said to be the most stressed out. So please, stop popping the Adderall and stop writing your paper for a moment, and breathe. Take a siesta. Catch up on your favorite TV show. Go for a walk. Get a meal to-go from a restaurant nearby that you haven’t tried yet. Call your best friend from high school that you’ve been meaning to catch up with but always can’t seem to find the time to. Heck, call your mom and ask how she’s doing. Just don’t forget to relax every once in a while. You’ll probably do better than if you had sat around stressing all day anyways.