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How to Become Your Best and Most Well-Rounded Self at College

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

College is all about experiencing new things and growing as a human being.

Socially, academically and professionally.

While you’re there, it’s crucial that you take advantage of every thing your college has to offer. After all, you’re paying a hefty sum to be there.

Help yourself get the most out of the college experience by following the simple (sometimes, too simple!) yet fulfilling tips.

Get Career Ready

Probably the most underrated resource at college? The career services office.

This office is home to professionals who can help you with job and internship applications, the recruiting process, or even just figuring out what industry you want to go into after graduation. They can work with you to create your resume and cover letters, spruce up your LinkedIn page for a stellar online presence and even advise on things to do while you’re still in school. 

After a few years in school, you might want to incorporate your career goals into your school year. Career service professionals can point you to pre-professional student organizations on campus that align with your career goals for the future. These organizations can be anything from a professional fraternity to a more campus-specific opportunity.

At my school (Northwestern University), we have groups for nearly every career. For example, if you are interested in real estate, you can join the Young Professionals in Real Estate Club, a club that hosts real estate professionals for talks on campus and provides opportunities to learn real estate-specific skills on the weekends. 

Or, you can take on a school-year and/or summer internship. Internships during the academic year offer a chance to take your mind off school for a bit and allow you to focus on your career goals in a more direct way. Not to mention, you might be able to make a little money on the side.

Some colleges may also offer credit for internships taken during the school year. Check with your academic advisor to find out if you are in the right position to take advantage of academic credit via internships, and take a trip to your career center to start your search.

Also, while many of us are remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, take advantage of the situation. Many companies are continuing to offer remote internships that you can participate in from the comfort of your off-campus housing.

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Be That Social Butterfly

Arguably, the best part about college is getting to meet so many people in such a short amount of time.

And the diverse student population can often rival or even outshine the diversity you’ll find in your bubble post-college. Now is the time to take advantage of being a part of a community where almost everyone is your age and experiencing the same types of things for the first time. 

There are possible friends at every corner. Universities are hotspots for networking, too. Everyone you meet will go on to have a career, and the more relationships you create now, the more helpful it will be down the road when you need a good lawyer, doctor or journalist.

For this reason, it’s important to stop yourself from feeling guilty about socializing (if that’s weighing on you). Just think of it as networking!

While, of course, school comes first, the homework will still be there when you get back from the game, the theater, the lounge, or wherever you find comfortable. Your time to enjoy these experiences is limited, and social development is part of what you are paying tuition for. Once you graduate, new friends won’t be such low-hanging fruit. 

Do More Than Just Hit the Books

Academic growth is the most obvious area you’ll develop at college. That’s the point, right?

But students often forget about all the many resources that exist to help in the process.

Study groups, even virtually, can provide incredible insight into subject matters and help you form closer academic relationships with your classmates. Sometimes, study groups are organized through the professor or teaching assistants, but other times you can do it yourself (and you should!). It can start from a friendly conversation in class and grow into a weekly meetup that everyone will benefit from. 

Office hours are a also huge benefit, especially if you’re  attending a smaller school. You may be able to meet one-on-one with your professor when you’re struggling. Even if you are passing with flying colors in a class, it can still be helpful to attend office hours, because it helps you get to know your professors, and them, you.

My personal rule is to attend office hours at least once in the first two weeks of a new class to introduce myself to the professor and create a little bit of dialogue and rapport between us. That makes it so much easier for me, later on, to go back in for help when I need it.

By establishing your relationship with a professor early, it allows them to get some insight into what type of student you are. Meaning, they will probably give you the benefit of the doubt if you slip up sometime during the semester.

Besides, you’re going to want good relationships with your professors in the future when you need letters of recommendation for job applications. Start now, and your future self will thank you!

Research opportunities are so underappreciated in the undergraduate community, especially in majors where you would not expect there to be research happening, like non-STEM majors.

At my university, every major has the opportunity to get involved in research, if desired. Participating in research gives you much more agency over your academic interests and career by letting you explore new areas of your field and formulate your own ideas.

Plus, research looks great on a resume and, sometimes, you can even be paid for this work. It’s a win-win.

Visit your school’s research office or career center to learn about possible research opportunities for your interests. 

Put It All Together

There are so many different ways to dedicate yourself to the college experience.

It’s incredibly important to stay involved while you can, even in this crazy six-feet-apart, online-only environment. If you explore all the possibilities on your campus, you will feel like you branched out and became as well-rounded as possible in college, which is exactly how you should feel.

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Author: Jenna Spray

Jenna is a second year journalism student at Northwestern University with a concentration in law. She writes about fitness and relationships for Her Campus Northwestern and works on the corporate section of her school’s most popular magazine, North by Northwestern. In her free time, Jenna likes to sail, go to the gym, and eat pasta with her friends.