These days, if you hear the word “college” it’s likely followed by the word “debt.” It’s easy to feel like the benefits of college aren’t worth the costs. That said, you don’t want to undervalue the opportunities you have while at college, and you certainly should take full advantage while you have the chance.
Get Outside Your Comfort Zone
College is a chance to get outside your comfort zone, both academically and literally. For many people, it’s the first chance they have to live away from home, but that’s just where the difference starts. The relative freedom of being on campus at a university compared to being in high school offers many chances for you to study outside your usual sphere and learn many new things. Try classes that aren’t part of your major, join clubs you wouldn’t normally or pick up a new sport.
Part of getting outside your comfort zone is making new friends. If you’re going to college away from your old friends from high school, you’ll have to build a whole new social sphere, which can teach you a lot about how to interact with a new group of people. Even if you are going to school with a lot of your old friends, you’ll likely be taking different classes from them, and will have a chance to branch out and bring new people into your life. Embrace it! The friends you make in college often stay with you the rest of your life.
You might be wondering, why study abroad? It would mean taking on more expenses, and it would take you away from the friends you’re making and the relationships you’re forging with teachers. The whole point of college is to expand your horizons and experience new things. Studying abroad is an incredible opportunity to do just that. You’re unlikely to get the chance to really experience life in another country the way you will as a study abroad student. You can make connections overseas that will stay with you the rest of your life, learn a whole new culture and make unforgettable memories.
Do an Internship
Internships can be a wonderful opportunity to earn college credits while gaining job experience. Obviously not all internships are created equal, and there are a lot of problems with internships — especially unpaid internships — that cannot and should not be ignored, but it is still an opportunity worth considering.
Part of the value in an internship is the chance to network. That is an opportunity that you can find elsewhere at college too. Whether you’re making sure that your favorite professor has a letter of recommendation on file for you, making friends that are going to be in the same industry as you going forward, or going to a job fair to meet potential employers, college provides ample opportunity for networking that shouldn’t be ignored or undervalued. Obviously, the most important part of college is doing well in your classes and getting your degree, but there are many other opportunities that aren’t so easily quantified.
Remember that college is supposed to be the best time of your life, so be sure you make the most of it with these opportunities.
BIO: Brett Clawson has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.