College. It’s a word that makes many tremble before it or reminisce about a time lost to eternity; but what does a 4-year college experience really offer us?
As a recent graduate from Indiana University in Bloomington, I often wonder about this… I finally broke it down into what I call “the five pillars for college success”.
Pillar 1: Academics. We all know what the news networks, business magazines, and academic advisors say about college: It’s worth the time and financial resources spent, but as more and more high school graduates enter college a bachelor’s has become the norm in entering the workforce. For some, the tens of thousands spent on their degree isn’t worth the hype. Personally, attending college was partly to follow in my parents’ footsteps and partly to engage in lifelong learning, which I did as a Hoosier student. I am happy to say that with the college courses I took, I feel prepared to conquer anything the world tosses my way.
Pillar 2: Extracurriculars. Unless it’s greek life, this is often one of the most undervalued and under utilized aspects of the college experience. College isn’t just about acquiring great grades in class., but also building life long relationships, being apart of a community, and learning to create balance in our lives as young adults. Extracurriculars are also a great way to stack your pre-graduate resume by getting involved with campus groups as a student leader. While at IU, I balanced both academics and extracurriculars to a good degree and was recognized for my personal contributions to the overall campus environment during my four years on-campus. As a result I’ve been able to get clearer about my career goals and bolster my networking skills while entering the workforce.
Pillar 3: Professional Development. Major, internship, and job… these three words are constantly thrown at college students. What isn’t talked about enough while in school? How important building your personal network is while in school and the role that will play in your professional development post-graduation. Networking is essential for making connections with those that could help attain that first dream internship or post-graduate job. I landed my first internship as a graduate of Indiana University through my personal network as a college student on-campus, so go forth and make some connections!
Pillar 4: Socializing. Human civilization is built around socializing with others in either niche or general communities. We typically congregate around those who share similar interests or live nearby, as evidenced by college students on in a specific dorm or greek house. While in college, I found myself around those with strong interests in politics and student engagement, which I later realized shaped my career goals. Your social relationships in college are both about creating balance in your life, but also in learning who you are as a young adult.
Pillar 5: Time management. Many college graduates and soon-to-be graduates feel there isn’t enough time in college to focus on what they truly love; however, I disagree. I have found that many college students struggle with poor time management skills, which ultimately harms their personal health and overall excitement to learn. As a recent graduate, I used effective time management skills to my advantage and harnessed it to be a student leader guiding struggling students to safety when everything for them seemed hopelessly lost. I was able to make time for helping others, learning from others, and learn about myself.
College is a time for self-exploration. To get the most out of your four years try to focus on the above five pillars for college success. I know by trying things outside of my comfort zone I was able to become a student leader who inspired others, network my way into some amazing opportunities, and learn how to create balance in all areas of my life while getting the most out of college.
I hope that these five pillars for college success are taught to many incoming college students and that everyone understands that all lifelong learning is multi-faceted in nature because one learns just as much outside the classroom as inside an academic environment.
Do I believe in higher education? Yes, I do believe it’s worth the struggle if you’re ready for it.