You Got into Your Dream College. Now What? How to Avoid Confusion and Stress and Successfully Navigate College and Live Happily Ever After
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There are many articles that talk about how to get into college. They talk about the importance of test scores and GPA. And the dreaded essays to the college. People, including us, advise to stand out by taking interesting internships, playing a niche sport, or just being different. But what do you do when you do get into the college of your dreams? How do you navigate college? What are the optimal ways of learning skills critical to your future, of socializing, of making the most out of college? Here are some tips of what not to do.
1. Denying the Overwhelm
You will be overwhelmed! You are in a new environment, and perhaps for the first time, away from home living on your own. It can be exciting but overwhelming at the same time. There are so many things to consider. The housing. The logistics of getting to school. The class requirements. New people to deal with. Lunch. Dinner. Etc.
We recommend that you should, if possible, visit your college a few times before starting your first semester (quarter). Get to know your college as your housing ahead of time. Know where the bookstore is, and the library.
2. Using College for the Credential Only
Eric Johnson, guidance counselor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says, “The more you regard college as a credentialing exercise, the less likely you are to get the benefits.”
The wisest students, he said, “move into a peer relationship with the institution rather than a consumer relationship with it.” They seize leadership roles. They serve as research assistants.
We recommend you follow Johnson's advice. Find the leadership roles. Leadership roles are not just about being a club president or a team captain. You can become a research assistant to a professor you like. You can tutor students. Etc.
3. Ignoring the Most Important Relationship
Most students don’t fully understand that perhaps the most important relationships they can form is with the faculty. It is often hard to identify professors worth knowing, especially those who are accessible to students. Often top professors are too busy to mentor students. However, students must identify professors who can mentor them and help them navigate college.
4. Failure to Introspect
“You have to ask yourself what lies closest to your heart,” said Jim Gates, a renowned theoretical physicist at Brown University.
Many students going to college do not know what they want. They fail to introspect an ask themselves what lies closest to their hearts. But how do you introspect? It is easy to give a lecture about and actually doing it. Here are some tips. Ask the following questions:
5. Worrying About the Wrong Things
Many students worry about the wrong things in college. They worry about finances (you can always get a loan). They worry about what others, especially their peers think (they are not going to pay your bills!). Etc.
Your job in college is to learn and make the most of this privilege and opportunity. In today's world, too many students have an entitlement mentality, that they are entitled to things, including a college education. That is a wrong and bad attitude. You should focus on learning and making the most of the precious years you have in college.
If you focus in college and do your utmost, you will blossom in your career. As Professor Gates said, “If you are fortunate enough to find something that you’re totally obsessed with, you’re likely to work very hard at it. If you’re a human being of average intelligence and you work very hard at something, you’re likely to become very good at it. And if you become very good at it, people are likely to notice.” That means they’re likely to employ and reward you as well.