12 Ways to Make College Count

You have made the decision to attend a university and further your education.

You are taking on a role as a college student, unsure of what to expect or the next steps to take in this journey.

Just remember, your college experience is a continuation to follow where you feel called and fulfill a higher purpose.  This can be somewhat daunting!  Especially when it comes to choosing a major and university.  Rest assured, choosing to serve and love like Christ without borders, jumping out of your comfort zone, making the most of your college adventures will ultimately lead to a gratifying 4+ years.

There are SO many amazing opportunities that await you as you embark on your college journey.  I remember feeling so anxious for what was to come, leaving friends I had known for years, and how I was going to get involved in a brand new school with new people and in a new city.  

So, here are 12 tips for making the most of your college experience. :)

      1. Explore your options.

Unless your decision on which school you want to attend is set in stone, or if you are part of a family tradition, it is important to take the time to look into your future school, I mean it is going to be a large part of your life for the next 4+ years.  Look at every area of what the school has to offer and remember to be grateful for such an incredible opportunity.  Look at current students’ thoughts on each school you are considering.  Go on a college visit…or two or possibly three to multiple schools.  You would be surprised at how your decision might change based on your student tour!  Choosing a college major can be just as scary as choosing a school.  Again, explore various majors before committing and talk with people who are working in a field you are interested in studying.  Job shadow different areas of study to gain a real-life look at what you might want to do after college graduation. 

        2. Relationships in college.

---Aren't my grandparents the cutest?!---

This is a varied subject among each and every college student.  The one thing I will say is if you have a boyfriend/girlfriend, do not let that stop you from getting involved on campus and hanging out with your friends or making new ones.  You will have a much more wholesome college experience if you truly immerse yourself into what your campus has to offer and not focus on what your significant other is doing every moment of every day.  That’s not to say you can’t involve them in what you have going on at school; especially if you attend the same school.

        3. Ask for advice.

Personally, I was one of the first of my family to attend college outside of our hometown area.  I basically did a lot of the decision making on my own but never really asked someone who went through the process of choosing a college and advice on attending college.  Do not think you have to do it all on your own.  Even if you are a multiple generation college attendee, get advice from outside sources.  Also make sure your decision is, well, your decision.  You might have your friends pulling you in one direction and your family pulling you in the other direction as far as what school to attend.  Take their advice into consideration, but make sure your decision is based on what you truly feel is best and will offer you the best education and experience.

        4. Financial Aid and Scholarships.

These are your life savers in college, or should I say money savers.  Your school will have a tab on their website dedicated to financial aid and scholarships.  Use this tool for your benefit and apply for all that you qualify for.  Do not be afraid to contact the department via phone or email either.  They are there to help you!  This is something that may seem time consuming or useless to you as a freshman, but it will be completely worth it, trust me.

        5. Work-study job position.

Maybe you are taking 18 credit hours and you are involved in two of the busiest clubs on campus.  Try to find time for a work-study position.  These are jobs on campus that allow you to not only make some extra money but also to meet your fellow students while getting paid to do easy and usually fun work.  You will get to know professors and staff really well which is awesome for networking, something that will greatly pay off at the end of your college career.

        6. Get involved.

You just graduated high school and you were really involved in clubs, athletics, and had a diverse group of friends because of it.  Or perhaps you just graduated high school and were more involved with your friends and classes.  Either way, your college journey is a fresh start.  It is your chance to get acquainted with the campus and the people and go outside of your comfort zone.  Attend the sporting events your college has.  Join clubs.  Get involved with intramurals.  Attend the events your dorm puts on.  Start your own club.  Find a home church in your college town.  Become a resident assistant once you’re qualified.  Work out in the gym on campus.  Form a weekly or monthly tradition with a group of friends.  Join a sorority or fraternity.  The options are endless.

        7. Get up for that 8 am class, just do it.

It was my first college semester and I had an 8 am class Monday through Friday.  Chemistry, of all classes.  It is incredibly tempting to skip out on these morning classes but I cannot express enough to you how important it is to seriously just get up and Go.  If that means going in your sweatpants, so be it.  If you weren’t a morning person before, you will indefinitely turn into one after this schedule which is an excellent quality to have and will be beneficial for when you are working in the real world.  (If your job requires an early morning schedule, of course.) 

        8. Ask questions.

Asking questions in class will move you from the professor’s "boring" list to their list of engaged and hard-working students.   If you attend a large university with large class sizes then this might mean talking to the professor after class, ask them questions about last week’s lesson or the upcoming exam.  Get to know them on a one to one basis and show that you truly care about the subject and want to succeed.  Small class sizes at smaller universities offer endless opportunities to get to know your professors.  In a class of 30 students you will be remembered in some way, so be remembered as the diligent student ready to listen to the lecture and participate in the lesson.
    9. Use the library.

This was my absolute favorite spot to study mainly because that’s one of the few places I could actually focus on my schoolwork and studying.  A local coffee shop was also a great go-to study spot.  (Side note: coffee was/is a necessity when it comes to studying, so the local coffee shops are fantastic.)  Use the resources your school offers.  Whether it’s assistance with writing a final paper, a resume, tutoring, whatever it may be.  You are paying the school lots of money so take advantage of what they have to offer.

        10. Go international.

Travel and be adventurous.  What more can I say?  If you know me personally you know that traveling is one of my all-time favorite things to do.  The amount of inspiration you receive, the people you meet, the culture you immerse yourself in, the once in a lifetime experiences you have are all a sure fast way to open your heart and mind to what the world has to offer.  Exploring God’s creation truly makes you realize how great and powerful He is.  You wholeheartedly grow into a flexible person, gain independent qualities, learn how to work with a team, and basically have the best time of your life.  Serving others across the nation or world with your own hands and feet will ignite a fire within you.  Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

        11. Keep the faith.

You are going to be surrounded by all kinds of temptation in college.  Most college campuses offer bible study groups to become a part of.  I strongly suggest getting involved with these groups or even start your own.  Among the busyness of college and everything that comes along with it, find time to do a daily devotional.  There are a ton of options to choose from that are geared toward specific groups such as college students in general, young women, young men, couples, etc.  Keeping your faith during college will allow you to share your story, meet new friends and connect on a deeper level of faith.  Here are some of the verses I held close to me during my college years...

Galations 5:13 // You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh, rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 // "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Isaiah 40:31 // Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Colossians 3:12 // Therefore, as Good's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

        12. Have fun!

Your time in college truly does fly by.  As cheesy as it sounds, try to make each day count.  You will have stressful days, it’s college.  But, the people in your classes and same major are going through the same exact thing.  You will also have some of the best days of your life and make some amazing friends.  If you put in your best effort, you can do it, will do it, and will ultimately succeed. 

Make the most of your college experience; it truly does fly by like everyone tells you.

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