College is a time of immense transition. Given that it is the first instance in which young adults gain complete independence and freedom, a heavy weighing question is how to approach these newfound opportunities. Do I get involved in Greek life? Which clubs are worth my limited free time? Who should I make friends with? Do I get an internship over the summer? Is my major the right major for me? Here are a few tips and strategies to help you make the best out of your college years plus recognize which opportunities to take to prepare you for a successful future.
It's All About Perspective
My number one tip for balancing your academic, professional, and social life in college is to keep it all in perspective. A lot of stress comes from overthinking events that seem pivotal at the time however months later as you look back are nearly irrelevant. I’m not saying this is easy. It is very difficult in the moment to not freak out about earning a 50% on your midterm. However, there are plenty of practices that will help you successfully do so. For instance, when something is not going well and you catch yourself being engrossed by it, pause, and take a step back. Consider all the other accomplishments you have and progress you are making in other areas, and this will help make the current situation appear less defining. Failure is most definitely a large part of college and learning to deal with it is a key factor in your success. You will fail many more times in your career, however, what employees and peers admire is your ability to respond to your failure and learn from it.
Learn Your Limits
As you become acclimated to your new independence, and surroundings you will be offered with a ton of opportunities. Within the first week of each year, even as a senior, you will face new challenges and decisions. Deciding which opportunities to say yes to is a lot harder than it seems. My first month or so of college I couldn’t say no. I said yes to every social, academic, and professional opportunity I was offered, and I found myself overloaded with commitments that I could not follow through with. I was so exhausted from my spending every second active that I struggled to value the time as it seemed to be passing by too fast for me to do so. After winter break, I sat down with a list of everything I was involved in, friends, jobs, classes, clubs, research, etc. This helped me visualize and determine which activities I found most joy in and which I benefited from most. I immediately crossed off anything I was no longer interested in or dreaded going to. I then circled the activities that I had to stay in (school/work) or I did not want to drop. This then left me with the in-between commitments. I was able to narrow it down to three-four clubs in addition to school/work. I made sure that I was involved in at least one club that was major specific, one for pure enjoyment, and one that was social. Although this will look differently for everyone as we all have different amounts of schoolwork and non-negotiable commitments, the process is versatile.
Keep Yourself Challenged
This process allowed me to commit more of my time to each activity allowing me to gain more from my involvement in each one. Ensuring you have commitment to your personal health is also very important and can at times take a good chunk of time. This list strategy should help you differentiate between the endless opportunities you are offered in college and ensure you have a good array of involvement. Find opportunities that that bring you joy, challenge you, and prepare you for your future career.
As you venture though college and the many new experiences to come remember it is key to keep this in perspective, do not over commit your time, and take some time to yourself to enjoy the stage you are in.
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