We all know college is supposed to be the time of your life; freedom from your parents, beautiful campuses and bountiful opportunities all await you in what will surely be some of the best years of your life.
However, these four years end all too quickly and before you know it, you'll be unemployed and back at your parents’ home. So, for those who will soon to enter college, make sure to take these steps to maximize your experience at college.
1. Join A Club
Clubs, theater or sports — whatever the extracurricular activity may be, just make sure to do something beyond academics in college. Not only is it the most economical opportunity you'll get to try out a new hobby, like film, it's also the last window of time you'll have to try something totally new before you get too old and it seems like a mid-life-crisis effort.
Clubs are fun, they're a great way to meet people and they're generally a really good way to get a little extra out of your tuition money. And who knows? Maybe that photography experience will segue into a part-time job.
2. Take Advantage Of Student Discounts
Students are good investments — the financial industry certainly thinks so, at least. By being nice to you now when you're young and broke, they can get you back when you're a big, grownup patent lawyer (or so goes the logic). And, whether or not you plan to hold up your end of the deal, there is no reason you shouldn't take advantage of those oh-so-generous student discounts now.
Want free 2-Day shipping with Amazon student? Take it. Better yet, why not save every time you buy at retailers like Foot Locker and J. Crew? Not to mention, the generous deals Europeans offer college kids looking to educate themselves at local museums between hangovers. So, take some time, peruse around Studentuniverse and get the bang for your buck.
3. Pay Attention In Class
So ridiculous, right? Everyone knows that college is for binge drinking, promiscuous sex and living carefree on your parents’ dime. While all of this remains true, don't forget that learning is still a very important secondary function of your four-year, expenses-paid vacation.
Sure, it feels cool to skip class and ace tests by cramming the night before, but it feels cooler to not have to relearn that material for your new job that hired you for your "statistical modeling" skills. So, pay attention in class; you'll enjoy them more and you really need the knowledge they offer. Trust me.
4. Get An Internship
I really cannot stress this one enough — find one of your overachieving friends (the kind who has a job straight out of college) and ask them how they got it. Chances are, two out of three of them are working for a company where they interned or for one that hired them based on previous internship experience.
Work experience is infinitely more valuable than class and finding an internship outside of a college fair is like trying to find a legitimate masseuse on Craigslist. College is the last time when it's still cool to be an intern-slave, so do not miss out because you wanted to spend every summer going home to hook up with your ex from high school.
5. Live In Your College Town For A Summer
There’s nothing that celebrates carefree youth quite like spending it doing nothing with your best friends. While college itself is an experience, spending a summer with your friends, truly getting to know the town, is priceless. The freshmen are gone, the cops are less strict, you know everyone around and life is just about as good as it gets. So, whether you hail from Ann Arbor, State College or Burlington, don't be a fool — spend one summer doing nothing but drinking and sunbathing with your friends.
6. Party Your Face Off
Seriously. Party so hard that your face literally falls off and your competition starts to look like droopy-eyed armless children (am I right, Charlie Sheen?). If your first and last semesters in college aren't spent trying your hardest trying to push the limits of your liver and muscle memory, then you're missing out on a chance you'll never have again.
For those of you who never had relationships in college or called the RA on your hallmates because they wouldn’t stop raging on a Thursday, let me give you some perspective: You are in a school, surrounded by young, attractive people your age, with little to no responsibility (other than four hours of class per day) and no judgment for going to class wearing pajamas. If you think you'll have a chance to live this way after graduation, think again. This "real world" stuff really isn't so chill.
7. Make Connections
There's a saying that college is not about the grades you make, but the hands you shake. And while you don't want to be the nerd who literally shakes hands when meeting peers, you should definitely heed this advice. Colleges are the most accessible pools of potential talent that you will ever come by.
While some of your peers may go on to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Mark Cuban, none of them know it yet, so connecting with them is much easier than a groveling LinkedIn invite once they become millionaires in their late 20s.
So, don't be embarrassed about being that Facebook whore — reach out to everyone who you meet. You'll get over feeling like a creep when your newsfeed reveals that the girl you hooked up with freshman year now works for an executive at NBC.
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