Graduating seniors entering college this fall will have the opportunity to engage in a variety of ways on campus. You spent so much time thinking about applying, so now it’s time to think about what you will do now that you’re a college freshman.
Here are five essential experiences you’ll want to pursue:
Joining an activity on campus can help you make the most of your college experience.
1. Join An Activity. Did you know that the number one initiative students can take to ensure their happiness during their freshmen year of college is to join an activity? This is backed up by reams of research. So get yourself to a club fair or log into the clubs and organizations page of the college website and find an activity to try. And if you don’t like the first one, try another. You’ll not only have fun but also get to know older students who can serve as mentors.
Managing an NCAA team can pave the way to a career in sports. Working on the campus activities board builds management and marketing skills. Writing for the school paper or having a radio show builds communication and writing skills that will help you land an internship or a job. So go out for an intramural team, try out for a cappella, sign up to tutor elementary students, or coach soccer. There are many opportunities and at least one will fit you.
2. Participate in Research. You can be an English, computer science, or philosophy major and participate in undergraduate research at most colleges. It is a myth that research is only for science majors. When students are surveyed about their most meaningful academic experience during college, the number one experience they report is research. Students learn how to think critically, master a research methodology and either delve into a question of their own or support a faculty member who usually becomes a trusted mentor. Some colleges offer stipends for summer or school-year research. Many such as Bates College offer the opportunity for a senior research thesis and the possibility of graduating with honors.
3. Complete At Least One Internship Or Meaningful Work Experience. There is often needless worry that certain college majors will not lead to employment following graduation. This is simply not true. Those who tend to have trouble finding work are those who ignore step one and two above—they have no activities on their resumes during the college years and they do not pursue work experience or an internship during their college summers. Work with the career center at your college and network with family members to identify opportunities where you can explore career interests. Internships in fields such as engineering and business often pay, and well-resourced colleges may offer stipends to those who pursue unpaid internships. If you cannot afford to take an unpaid internship, don’t fret. Any paid job can teach you essential skills and responsibilities, which you can detail in your resume. Visit the career center early.
Studying abroad is one of the most enriching experiences for students in college.
4. Study Abroad. We live in a connected world, and chances are you will have a career where you will be interacting with people around the globe. What better way to gain an international perspective than to get out of the USA and spend a few months in another country? You might become more proficient in another language or just expand your views in a way that will help you become more tolerant and understanding. It may make you more attractive to a potential employer who sees you as an adventurer or just wants to hire someone with an international perspective.
5. Attend Public Lectures and Performances. In college, you will have easy access to some of the most fascinating people in the world who will be visiting your campus to deliver lectures or perform. Take advantage of the opportunity to hear from journalists, writers, political activists, comedians, and the like. You will learn, be entertained, and gain wisdom and insight.