3 smart things to do in college

The other day, I ran into a young subscriber of mine who is in his sophomore year of college or 2nd year of university (for my European subscribers) and he was telling me how his sophomore year is so different from his freshman year, how hectic it is fast becoming and how he is now adept at juggling several tasks while maintaining good grades.

This was very reminiscent of my college days — in a nutshell: college was intense, rewarding and fun. I made lifelong friends of classmates, professors and colleagues whom I still keep in touch with.  The goal during college is to make the time spent there payoff in the near term and continue to payoff through out life.

To this end, for those who are college bound or parents with children in college or preparing for college, or you know someone already in college (a niece, nephew, friend, siblings), below are 3 smart things to do in college for huge payoff / rewards:

  1. Be active: this includes being an active participant in class, engaging your classmates in useful discussions, maintaining excellent rapport with your professors, be aware of current affairs of your department and college, getting an on-campus part-time job e.g. in the bookstore, administration, gym, library etc.  In other words, don’t go through college absent-minded.  Be present!  Not only does this behavior translate to excellent grades, it also provides a platform for your professors to get to know your aspirations and possibly provide useful mentorship to help shape your future
  2. Engage in professional student organizations: I cannot stress this enough.  If there are two engineer candidates with similar backgrounds vying for a job position, the one who gets the job is the one who, besides having good grades, also held a leadership position in his/her school’s chapter of engineering student association.   Simply being a member of such organizations does not suffice, one should seek out leadership positions i.e. run for the presidency, secretary, treasurer, events coordinator roles.  Such positions help one to build leadership skills that simulate the real world.  Such organizations also provide tons of opportunities to interact with great companies for social events, career events, informational sessions and this exposure is priceless.
  3. Obtain internships: The one thing that looks really, really good by the time you hit your final year in college is looking at your resume and seeing one or two internships you completed already.  Internships are an excellent way of securing a full-time job offer before you graduate.  They are also a great way to pay for college, earning you some low to mid 5-figure payout for a 12 – 16 week stint depending on the company and industry.  Some companies offer co-op job opportunities that span 4 – 6 months.

Your time in college is the time to set the pace for your future.  Let college provide you the opportunity to excel in life.  Enjoy, have fun, get excellent grades, go for spring break (be tame though), participate in leadership opportunities, gain rapport with your professors, classmates, make lifelong friends.  It will pay off I promise.

What other smart advice do you have from your college days?  I’d love to hear from you, drop me comments, I read them all.

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