Browsing Tag

college experience

Student Life

How To Gain Life Experience While You’re Young

February 2, 2021

It may seem like until you get experience, you’ll never be hired for anything. The common paradox is that you can’t get experience until someone hires you. There are, in fact, many ways to gain experience for the future while you’re still young.

Read Critically and Expansively

One of the easiest ways to prepare for the adult world is to read as much as possible. Through other people’s lives and experiences in both fiction and non-fiction, you gain insight into human nature and different lives you’ll never lead. Read so that you will be well read. Read so that you will understand allusions made by others. Read the nonfiction works of Dr. Gundry MD or Malcom Gladwell or Christopher McDougall to expand your knowledge about ideas and form opinions of your own.

Listen to Your Elders

Yes, older people sometimes repeat their stories, and, yes, sometimes they are slow to get to the point, but 80-year-old brains contain decades of wisdom that you are, well, decades away from achieving yourself. You may imagine that older people could not possibly understand your problems, but even though the names and dates may have changed, human problems have essentially stayed the same for hundreds of years. You may be surprised to discover that some old-school wisdom like “your word is your bond” and “say please and thank you” can actually take you pretty far in the modern world.

Travel Often

If you have a chance to go someplace new and try something new, take it. You never know what you might learn on the journey or gain from the destination.  You might see a bald eagle, learn how to change a flat tire, or discover your waitress grew up next door to the guy who runs the company you just applied for a job at. The world is interconnected, so get outside and see some of it before you’re tied down to a career with only ten vacation days a year.

Learn a Another Language

The older you get, the more difficult it is to learn a second language. When you were three, you probably didn’t think twice about singing songs in Spanish, French, German or Chinese. The older you got, however, the more uncomfortable you became at making mistakes. It’s human nature. Fight against it and keep learning. Become as fluent as you can in school, and then if possible, take a semester abroad or sign up for a volunteer trip to solidify what you know. Sometimes knowing a second language can leapfrog you right over the more experienced competition when you are ready to look for a job.

Volunteer on the Weekends

You may be too young for the job you want, so take this time to volunteer on the weekends or over the summer. Find an organization that will let you do the kind of work you’re interested in such as helping animals, tutoring or computer work and treat it like a real job. Show up on time. Be polite to your fellow volunteers. Don’t shirk menial work. Before you know it, you will probably be given greater responsibility. When it’s time to apply for jobs that pay, you will have references who will speak glowingly about your work ethic and can-do attitude.

Keep a Journal

It may be difficult to understand how keeping a journal when you’re young will help you when you’re older, other than aiding your recall when you write your “before I was famous” memoir. But a journal is a great way to reflect on what you learn and what you still don’t understand about life. It’s a place to write sage advice from others, lists of things you may never do again, and dreams for the future. It’s your past in the rearview mirror and also your future out the front window.

You won’t know exactly which event or skill you learn while you’re young that will help you in the future, but the more you pack into your elastic brain, the better prepared you’ll be. Don’t assume that just because you don’t have the job of your dreams that you’re not gaining experience.

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.

Student Life

11 Tips to Maximize Your College Experience

December 15, 2020

Headed off to college? That means it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get the most out of your college experience (and we don’t mean just friends, football games, and all-nighters). The goal is to graduate from college in a way that’s life-changing. Here are eleven tips to get started. 

1. Meaningfully participate in extracurricular activities

The students who get the most of their college experience are the ones who get involved in ways that spark their interest and passion. This doesn’t just mean sports but also includes music, theater, leadership, volunteering, or other activities. If you’re planning on retiring from your primary high school skill, choose a new one before you get to college. 

2. Live on campus 

You have the rest of your life to live off campus. When you live on campus, you put yourself right in the middle of the action and energy of college. Let other people fight over electricity bills and the dishes. 

3. Leave your car at home. 

If you live on campus, it’s easier to leave your car at home. Not only does it save you a few thousand dollars a year on insurance and maintenance, but you also don’t have to worry about finding parking on campus or its corresponding fees, like a parking ticket. 

4. Get a bike

A bike is a great college alternative to a car. You save time and money because you can bike up to your classes, park, and lock. Plus it’s a great way to avoid that Freshman Fifteen! 

5. Take small classes

Do what you can to take small classes. This might mean moving to advanced classes sooner or taking less-popular majors. If you are only an observer in your classes instead of an active participant, you’ll miss out on the full college experience.

6. Learn from the great professors

Find out who the life-changing professors are and take the classes they teach. Look on professor review websites or ask upperclassmen. Taking classes from outstanding professors who are passionate about their subjects can have a huge impact on your life. 

7. Continue to apply for financial aid. 

While most financial aid is given to first-year students, there is typically money withheld for second year and beyond. Once you choose your major, ask professors about potential scholarships, and keep applying for private aid.

8. Try to only work a job during vacation and on weekends. 

If possible, don’t work more than 10-12 hours a week during the semester. Minimize the time spent at a job so you can maximize the time focused on schoolwork and college activities. 

9. Take classes that prepare you for life. 

By taking classes like art history, accounting, and computer coding, you’ll be at home in museums, prepared with the basics to run your own business, and have a foundational understanding of web development. College is the last time you can indulge in extensive education without also juggling a full-time job.

10. Get bilingual by graduation. 

Knowing two (or more languages) makes you more hireable, putting you ahead of the average applicant. Spend a semester and a summer abroad, or even a whole year, to learn a language.

11. Fill out the FAFSA each year. 

Many students will do all they can to qualify for financial aid before they go to college. But many don’t realize their parents need to complete the FAFSA every October. 

College is a great opportunity to learn new things and have life-changing experiences. Make the most of it with these tips! What else have you done to maximize your experience in college?