Are You a Go-Getter? Ways to Be Successful in College & Beyond
College can be a blast—dinners in the dining hall, late-night gab sessions with the roommates, and weekend parties with the crew. It is an exciting time for self-exploration and learning.
As a college student, you might have more freedom than you’ve ever had before. No parents checking in to make sure your homework is finished or telling you to go to bed and get a good night’s rest. It’s really all up to you. While this transition can be challenging, college can also be a chance for you to grow in your independence.
Oftentimes, the skills you learn in college will be invaluable as you enter the real world—and isn’t that why you’re going to college in the first place? The work you put in during your college career could even lay the foundation for your future success.
So, what do college students need to be successful? There’s no one single guide for how to be successful in college, but these tips could help you make the most of your college years.
Improving Time Management
With more freedom than ever it can be easy to focus on only the fun stuff. Things like dates, parties, and extracurriculars might be persuasive distractions when you have a pile of reading to finish. But effective time management could help you (hopefully) fit it all in.
Some students find it helpful to keep a planner so they have a clear idea of what is happening each day, week, or month. Sure, you have your syllabi, but do you really want to spend your time toggling among five different papers just to figure out what you have due each week? You could put all the important dates and assignments in one place to streamline your workflow for the entire semester.
Then, as you go, you could create a prioritized to-do list. That way when papers or exams that are worth large portions of your grade are coming up, you could devote the appropriate amount of time to studying or writing and editing.
Practicing Good Study Habits
As you are getting into the time management groove, you could practice good study habits, too. You might want to make the most of your time so you can study smarter, rather than spending hours hunched over a textbook or computer screen.
You could take the time to organize your notes as you go so that when the end of the semester rolls around, you’ll have a neat and detailed archive of information from each class.
If notecards are your preferred review method, you could make them as the semester progresses so you don’t have to waste valuable study time immediately before finals transcribing information. With the notecards ready to go, you could focus on actually reviewing and learning the material.
You also might build in a few hours a week as study time for each subject, since cramming at the last minute is rarely an effective way to learn.
You’re at school to learn, so you might want to invest the time it takes to actually understand the material. If you’re struggling, you could ask for help. Professors’ office hours might be a great time to talk through difficult concepts, and who better to chat with than the person who’s teaching it? Many schools also have tutoring centers or other resources for students.
And that goes for mental health too. College can bring on a whole slew of new stressors that could affect your overall well-being. When you have bundles of work to do and are stressed to the max, taking care of yourself might fall to the wayside. But actively taking care of your physical and mental health could be helpful to your overall happiness and performance in school.
According to research released by the American Psychological Association , nearly 35% of college students studied struggled with a mental illness. And the number of students seeking treatment and professional help is growing . In response, colleges and universities are working to expand the mental health services available to their students.
Academics is a huge part of college, but you might not want to overlook the social aspects when you’re considering college success. Joining a club or participating in an on-campus organization could introduce you to lifelong friends. Plus, your classmates today are likely your co-workers of the future. Building your network now could have career benefits down the line.
If you’re interested in pursuing a specific career path, you could see if there is an on-campus branch of a specific professional group. For example, those interested in a career as a journalist could join the Society for Professional Journalists . There are societies for engineers, computer science, chemists, historians, and more.
Networking isn’t limited to your peers, either—you could also connect with your professors. They might have a wealth of knowledge they’re happy to share with students.
Thinking Beyond the Classroom
You’re might be doing all this work now so you can look forward to a rewarding and satisfying career that you love. After picking a major you love, you could start thinking about a career in that industry. Are there different paths to take? Which ones seem most appealing to you?
As you continue your education, you might want to make a list of companies you’re interested in working for after graduation. In addition to the work a company is doing, it could also be worth reviewing other aspects, like their company culture, benefits, and whether or not there is room for growth at the company.
Once you’ve created a list of companies you want to target, you could see if you have any connections there. Have any of your friends interviewed there? Does one of your professors know someone who works there? Reaching out to contacts in your network who have experience with the company might provide some valuable insight.
While having a personal connection might be helpful, you don’t necessarily need one. Sometimes, a cold call (or cold email) could work too. You could send a thoughtful, well-written email that describes your interest in their work and lets them know that you’re interested in that field.
You could also ask for an informational interview, perhaps just a quick coffee, to discuss. You may be surprised at how willing people are to sit down and chat with you.
You might also check into internship opportunities at the companies you are most interested in. Sometimes an internship can help you open the door (or window) to a future with the company.
Going to Career Fairs
Career fairs could be an opportunity to network and learn more about a particular industry. At a career fair, you could speak with recruiters and learn valuable information about the companies present.
To make the most of each opportunity, you might want to research the companies that will be at the fair so you can focus on one or two. Then you could do your research on each company to show the recruiter you know your stuff.
Paying for College
Being a college student can mean tons of opportunities to grow and explore. And with a little preparation and luck, your college experience could lead you to your dream career.
It might also mean a hefty tuition bill. Scholarships, grants, savings, and federal student loans can help students fund their education. Some students might get a job or find other creative ways to earn money to make ends meet while they are in school.
When these options aren’t enough, sometimes private student loans can be an option. SoFi recommends exhausting all your federal student loan options first, but if you need help covering the cost of attending your chosen college, you and your parents could take a look at SoFi private student loans.
There are absolutely no fees and you can choose between one of up to four flexible repayment plans to find the option that is best for you. You can see if you prequalify and at what rates and terms in just a few short minutes, without affecting your credit score.
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