Five Tips for a Successful College Experience

There is a movement in our generation right now that is trying to discredit the value of a college education. This movement tells students that higher education is not worth the money or that going to college will automatically cripple your financial future. Although debt is a definite problem for our generation and is no joke, is college really not worth the money in our current society? If you go to college, will that doom you to a life of poverty?

The answer for many men and women in our parents’ generation was to get a job right out of high school and stay in that job for their working career. Those who went to college were sometimes viewed as wealthy, privileged, or academically successful. This view is starting to come back to our society, but is it accurate? Can an institution control the success or failure of a student or can students have a say about their time in college?

Here are 5 simple ways to make your college experience a successful one:

1. Own your college experience – This might sound cheesy to you, but hear me out because this might be an important point. It seems to me that the students that I talk to that don’t appreciate their time in college are also the students that don’t put a lot into their experience. They don’t seek out opportunities to get involved. There are many ways to invest in your time at college. This doesn’t have to be sports, drama, music, or any other formal extra-curricular. What I mean by “owning” your experience is taking control of how you seek out and take advantage of opportunities. This is the basis for your college experience. If you are expecting to sit in a few classes that will automatically prepare you for the workplace you will be disappointed. If you’re expecting a college to make your time perfect, you will surely be disappointed.

2. Get to know your professors – This is somewhat of an outworking of the first point, but it is definitely worth mentioning. Professors at college most likely are not teaching you because they hate you. On the contrary, most teachers do it because they love teaching and want to help you in your college experience. Although this one is much harder in bigger schools, take advantage of the opportunities you have to network with people who have “been there, don’t that.” This is one of the best things about coming to Maranatha. The teachers here are not in it for the money but are here purely to invest in the lives of students. What a deal!

3. Work – Some students are fortunate enough to have parents that are able to help pay for their schooling. Students who have their schooling paid for are often tempted to overlook the investment their parents are making and just float through college. Those of us whose parents might’ve been willing but not able to help are faced with a sizable bill. For those faced with big bills, working is usually not an option but a requirement. I find that those who work their way through college often get more out of it because of their investment in it. For both cases, though, working during college can give you a good experience while keeping you invested in your college experience.

4. Intern – Internships are a key part of any college experience. Some majors require them and some don’t, but either way, much can be learned from them. This is, I think, a step further than just working through college. The key difference is that an internship is generally viewed as a way to further your education, not just a way to make money. An internship is one of the best resume’ and experience builders a college student can take advantage of. So much so that we have written a separate article just on internships. If you haven’t already, check the article out here.

5. Study to learn, not to pass – I think this is the biggest thing that students are missing right now in our society. Since college degrees are viewed as a necessity by many jobs now, students can view college as something to check off the list before entering the workforce. Students inevitably then just try to do the minimum work requirement just to pass and get that degree. The flip side of that is viewing your classes as a tool to learn more and grow yourself, not to get a letter grade. You see this when students take a class they actually care about. Students actively receive any information they can get about that topic because they care. Imagine a college experience where you care about all your learning opportunities!

If you haven’t caught on, all five of these tips feed very well into each other. Many times, you can’t have one without the others. When you own your experience, you will care enough to get to know your teachers. You get to know your teachers, often they will be able to help you find quality jobs and internships. Internships give you a great platform to take control of your learning outside of the class and actually learn real-life skills. Those real-life skills make you want to keep investing in your education to get even better opportunities.