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How to Have the Best College Experience

Every student goes off to college with high expectations for an amazing experience. In preparation, they have talked to other college students; they have perhaps read a college experience essay or two on college life blogs; and they have certainly spent plenty of time on their college website, studying everything about campus life.

Reality Kicks In

Then you arrive. You unpack and settle into your dorm room or apartment. Or, if you are a commuter student, you arrive on campus and begin to attend classes and look for opportunities to meet others and get involved.

You realize that college experiences come with lots of challenges and that you will need to take an active role in making these years the best college experience you could have.

Tips for an Amazing College Experience

“For me, the desire exists less to get myself a degree than to just go and have the whole college experience, and throw myself into the brain pool and see if I can swim.” (Joshua Jackson)

This is one of many college experience quotes that may very well sum up what college students should aspire to during those unique years. But how to get that? Here are some strategies and tips that will have you recalling your college years with fondness, humor, and even inspiration for the rest of your life.

  1. Friendships

Often, amidst all of the stress of academics, relationship and roommate issues, etc., your friends can be your support system and help to get you through the tough times. And these friendships often last a lifetime, long after college years are over.

  1. Other Relationships

There are other relationships that will be important too. These may be professors, advisors, etc. – adults with whom you may develop personal relationships. They will also provide support and advice, easing you through some of the normal stressors of academic life.

  1. Where You Live is Important

Apartments tend to be appealing. After all, they are the height of independence, and who isn’t looking forward to that? On the other hand, living in a dorm will put you in contact with far more fellow students, and you are likely to find some great friendships, the more exposure you have. Friendships do not tend to develop in classrooms – they do in the more informal environments like living space.

  1. Choose Classes Based Upon Instructor Not Content

This holds true for elective classes, of course. And if, in your major field, you have options, choose an instructor that other students recommend. Sometimes, an experience with a great instructor can change the course of your academic career. More than one student has been turned on to a major they never considered until an instructor showed them how exciting it can be.

  1. Those Activities – Choose Those That Provide Regular Contact

Intramurals, music and drama groups, and other high-contact activities will mean that you are immersed in contact with other students of similar interests on a regular basis. Certainly, fraternities and sororities provide this type of camaraderie too, but you don’t have to “go Greek” to have great non-academic experiences and relationships.

  1. Keep Your Sense of Humor

Pranks are a part of college life, and they will provide memorable experiences to look back upon later on. Participate and be a “victim,” so long as they are not hurtful to others.

  1. Watch Your Money

Very few college students have an unlimited supply of funds. They have loans, financial aid, and perhaps and allowance from home or a part-time job. Nothing is worse than running out of money at the end of the month or semester. Ramen is not the best long-term diet, and it is no fun to turn down an invite to go out for beer and pizza because you don’t have the money to go.

  1. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

You may have attended a high school that was made up of students just like you – the same racial and ethnic make-ups, the same socio-economic class, etc. College is the time to broaden your exposure to many more demographics. You will come to appreciate the diversity that makes society great and that you will encounter as an adult in your work life.

  1. Keep Perspective and Organization

Your “loyalties” will be divided – you have classes, homework, and long-range assignments/projects. These will eat up a lot of time to be sure, and you will have to plan well to meet all of the deadlines you face.

At the same time, you have to have “a life,” because your non-academic experiences are what makes college life so enriching. If you find the right balance between academics and the social and co-curricular aspects, you will have less stress and greater mental health.

College is like no other time in your life. It is that period of time when you can begin to experience independence and yet still be in an environment where you are not totally on your own. At the same time, it’s your chance to explore a larger “world,” to form friendships that will last a lifetime, and to end up with a degree that will prepare you for an adult career. Make the most of it – you will never get these days back again.