Ahh. College. If you are close to starting out, you probably just graduated school, have a variety of application processes behind you, and maybe moved to a new place, town, or country. Now you are probably wondering how your college life is going to look like, how you can prepare and start off with a college pro. Therefore, here is a hand full of tips on what to consider before starting college. We hope you will have a great start and that you will make plenty of great experiences. Here we go with my list of things I wish I knew before college.
You might find it hard to approach new people in a whole new environment, maybe a new city, a new chapter in your life. Some individuals are more experienced with this, some less. Something I found hard was finding myself in this new situation, studying something I was interested in, without really knowing where to go further in life. It is easy to get the impression that others may be more mature than you and seem like they have it all figured out, but the truth is that this is rarely the case. Don’t get intimidated by these thoughts, as they are counterproductive when it comes to approaching new people and making friends at college. Whenever you approach someone with this in your mind, you will find it much easier to skip the small talk and ask those real questions about life, interests, and the real person standing in front of you.
Most college freshmen tend to stress out about every exam in their first one or two semesters. Looking back, I think my first year at college was one of the most relaxed years ever. Exams tend to get harder and more into depth with every semester, so you can rest assure that those final weeks where you bury yourself in your room filled with books will come. But before that, you have plenty of time to explore the campus and get to know other students. I truly suggest that you take that time because if you’d rather stress out about every little test, you will feel like a freshman even in your final year. Also, you will miss out a huge chunk of student life and once you are through with college and found yourself a job, it is especially hard to get back into studying.
Your time at college flies by very, very quickly. Once it’s over, you will think about all the things you didn’t do back then because you were always busy studying. Had I known this before college, I’m sure my list would be much shorter today.
In most universities, students get overwhelmed with free pens, lighters, bags, and the like. This is, however, not the really cool stuff you get for free in college. The really cool things are those you need to pay for big time when you no longer enjoy the advantages of college.
Most colleges offer extracurricular activities like sports, optional subjects, or a university blog or newspaper. Activities and education like that mostly come with monthly memberships in societies and clubs, but at university, they are usually free. I highly recommend to not count yourself among the students who to “the minimum” at the university to get your degree. You can learn so many awesome things outside of your curriculum. You can meet new people, find a new hobby or learn some extra skills like image editing, creative writing, and many, many more.
Also, a typical college has one or more libraries. You know, these places where everyone goes to when looking for a quiet place and the literature to write his or her thesis? Actually, college libraries often have a proper collection of quality newspapers and professional journals, which is regularly updated. These collections are great and it is highly recommended to use them. You have them right at the tip of your fingers and others pay monthly subscriptions in order to read them.
Near the end of the studies, students have to pick a research topic for their Bachelor’s or Master’s thesis. I have seen countless students struggle with finding the right topic, the right questions, and the right literature, and I do count myself among that group. The reason for that is mostly because when it comes to handing in your topic, people expect they can just “think of” a topic. The opposite is the case. Keep your eyes, ears, and mind open in every class and every lecture. Everything you hear in class is a relevant field of research in your studies, and one day you will sit in a lecture thinking “this is going to be a great topic for my thesis!”. The advantage is not only to keep a cool head when others are freaking out because you already have your topic, you also have plenty of time in advance to prepare and ask your professors if they can give you advice on finding literature.
If you are still having trouble with deciding on a specific topic, you should also consider in which sector you want to work in in the future. Believe it or not, the topic of your thesis is important in many jobs. Some interviewers ask you about the topic of your thesis, not because they want to test you, but because they simply want to know why your individual qualifications matter for them and how they can benefit from your specific field of interest.
Studying is a fascinating time of your life. With the right mindset, you will be able to get the most out of it, be it simply about enjoying your studies or for your further professional and academic path. When talking to graduates, it becomes clear that everyone has some things he or she wishes to have known before the start. For you, it’s important to ask the right questions to the graduates you know and find out what knowledge and experience they can share with you. You will see that you’ll feel like a college senior in no time.
What did you wish to have known before college?
Will you start college soon and have some questions to our EDUopinions community?
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