By: Andrew Lovgren
August means back to school. For the first time in 18 years, I have the opportunity to just look back at school instead of forward.
College goes by fast, and with 20/20 hindsight, it’s easy to see what I should have done. While it doesn’t change the past, it may leave some food for thought as you pack up and head to the dorms this fall.
Here are a few of things I wish I knew when heading (back) to college.
Freshman – Meet people
It is the most cliché statement of college orientation, and it’s also something I didn’t do enough of during my first year. The relationships formed during the freshman year are often the ones that last beyond graduation.
It’s easy to stay in a certain corner of the dorm, or meet up with people only of similar major/interests, but this is the time to make many shallow relationships, some of which can be delved into throughout the year and later on.
Sophomore – Explore academics
College is about learning, and a large part of the learning takes place outside of the classroom. I’m a firm believer in a liberal arts education that includes the social learning and extracurricular, but employers seem to think that book learning is important as well.
There’s enough time left to develop a minor, or even a second major. If that doesn’t work out, there are plenty of classes that may relate to your interests or help broaden your world view. Who knows what extra course work could come up in a job interview or work situation.
Junior – Keep trying new things
The sophomore overload behind, it’s easy to cut from the schedule and focus on one or two main events. Still, it’s important to enter into new groups, classes and on/off campus events.
“Been there, done that” is an excuse of convenience and should be pushed aside as often as possible. There are new things, new people and only two more years to enjoy them.
Senior – Study Abroad
I graduated a semester early to save money, rather than take advantage of one of the many semester abroad programs. It allowed for other post-college plans to work out better, but it’s easy to wonder where I could have gone, the people I could have met and the experiences I could have gained.
College is already a major financial burden, and a little more money could add a lot more value to an education, as you’ll hear from every recruiter.
Clichés aside, there’s too much to fit into four years (or three-and-a-half) at any college/university. Still, there’s much more that I could have done, and plenty of reasons to go back and do it all again.
What advice would you give (insert grade) you? Send in your notes with info or comment below.