Nick Jurczak gives some tips on getting the most out of college.
I would like to think that I’m one of the luckier college students in the country. When I started at Ithaca College in 2010, I was already prepared with what major I was going into and what kind of activities I wanted to do on campus. By my second semester I had studied what classes I needed to complete for my degree to the point that I had a four-year plan already made and I didn’t need to fret about the road or the destination. The reason I say that I like to think I’m lucky is that not many people know what they’re doing when they leave home. Even worse, sometimes the pressure becomes too much and some people never quite finish the way that they wanted to. To help that cause here are a few lessons I learned through my own experiences, and others, to help get you through college and also through life.
1. Know your limits
When many people start college they want to try and do everything that is available to them in the name of success, but knowing you have limits is very important. I’ve known of too many people who have tried to take on 7 or 8 extracurricular activities, on top of 15-18 credit hours of classes, and gotten burned out simply because they believe the only way an employer will value you is based on how much you did in your college years. Some of these same exact people overlook eating during the day, only get 5 hours of sleep at night and hardly see their friends let alone have time for themselves. While success is important, the cost to your physical, mental, emotional and social health is too high and this is not what employers want to see. What is important is having a couple of key clubs where you work really hard rather than 15 small successes. It shows you have balance in everything you do, and that is what people like to see out of employees.
2. Learn to tolerate other opinions
If you’re like me then you probably went to a high school in your local community. Every now and then that community may be diverse, but most of the time people in the same community tend to share opinions on many issues. For example, I come from Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, which is rather liberal in their politics, and many people celebrated Barack Obama as a presidential candidate. When I got to college though that mentality changed, and I met more people who sympathized with conservative values. While I didn’t exactly agree with what those people said, it didn’t keep me from associating with them. When you’re in college, and the real world, you are going to be forced to work with people who you don’t always agree with. It is imperative that you learn to tolerate these people’s opinions, even if they vehemently disagree with your own, because compromise is what every relationship is about.
3. Don’t stress about early success
As a freshman I applied to every television and radio station within the Chicago area to get an internship. When I did not receive a reply or was rejected I was discouraged from continuing to try. It was my father who picked me up and told me one of the most important life lessons that I have ever learned, which was that 9 times out of 10 you are not going to be selected or hired or even given an answer, and that this should not make you miserable. Most places that look for interns are looking for people with a couple years of experience under their belt, and that just means that you have to keep doing what you’re doing to become an even more valuable asset to that company. In the meantime, what you can do is apply for jobs or volunteer, because it looks just as good on a resume and people like to see that you applied yourself even though your situation for a break or summer wasn’t ideal.
4. Don’t worry about sex and relationships
I will be the first to tell you that I absolutely love sex and that I lost my virginity before I hit college. That being said, after my senior year there was a 2-year span where I didn’t have any girlfriends or sexual experiences and yes, it sucked. I expected that college would be more like what I had seen in Van Wilder or Animal House, where people were getting laid all the time, but it’s actually quite the opposite. It’s rare that the normal college student gets laid. Even those people with girlfriends or boyfriends find it hard to find the time to actually lie down and get things going, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re unattractive or that you’re going to be stuck by yourself night after night.
5. Always do what you love
College is a time to figure out who you are before you get to the real world. It is time to figure out what your hobbies are, who you are as an individual, who you are sexually, and what your opinions are on varying issues. Once you’re in the real world you may not have the time to discover the person you want to be because you have to worry about everything else around you. So go be yourself. Make mistakes. Learn to love people and who you are, because it’s really your best chance to find out what makes you special. The best way to figure out the other four lessons on this list is to just be you, and trust me you’ll be thanking yourself later.