How do you know if you’re making the best of college?
Put it this way, is it possible to know you’re headed in the right direction if you don’t even know where you’re trying to get to? You can’t prepare to ace a test if you don’t know what you’re being graded on. To make the most of something, you have to have a direction or purpose.
For the students out there, given the nature of today’s economy and the high cost of getting a degree, the goal for most should be to maximize career options and minimize debt.
If that’s the grading rubric of the test, how do you maximize your time in college to do that?
It starts with having a purpose
1) You're in it for the long haul. Success isn’t judged the moment you commit to a school, but rather years down the line. So getting in is a great start, but it’s not “I got accepted, so that’s a wrap.” Getting through college is even more important.
2) College is an investment, not an expense. So you should expect a positive return. Spend your time wisely by minimizing input (annual costs x years spent) and maximizing output (future earning power). That includes taking the right classes to graduate on time. Instead of spending a few thousand dollars on “Intro to Photography,” learn it at a community college for a few hundred bucks or on YouTube for free.
3) Start backwards – what is your end game? Have a conceptual (can be intangible like what drives you in life, be it money, freedom, family, happiness, etc.) idea of what your long term goal is (impossible to know exactly what you want in vivid terms at this point, I know). That allows you to focus on developing your strengths to differentiate yourself once you get out, to get your career started on a positive note.
Do things that support your purpose
1) Surround yourself with those who have your priorities in mind. To know if the people around you are the right ones to have around, you have to know what you want long term so you can assess if their values line up with yours. These people will be the ones you work hard and play hard together with.
2) Maximize your career options by maximizing your experiences. Stockpile interesting and challenging experiences, try one new thing a day (no matter how small it is), and talk to everyone every place you go. You find yourself in the right place at the right time by continually putting yourself out there.
It costs a lot more now to attend college than it did even a few decades ago. Since you’re giving up more, it is important to also get back more in return.