Value of College: How to Get the Most Out of It
Much has been made about the value of college. Is it still the must-have career resource it once was? Concerned students facing years of student loan debt and no guarantee of gainful employment wonder what it is they should be doing next.
Trade school? Work immediately after high school? Increased financial literacy and lifestyle design? The truth of the matter is that college still holds more value than it ever did as long as you know how to approach it. In the following article, we’ll be discussing 12 things, in particular, that you should be doing to get the most value from your experience. Let’s begin!
1. Attend Classes Regularly
Look, you are an adult now. It’s true. No one can make you go to class. But you’re spending a whole lot of money to get an education. Leaving the best resource you have on the table for doing so is cutting your own throat.
You get a level of instruction from in-person courses that you just fail to receive from reading a chapter in a book. Hands-on, one-on-one time with an instructor who has proven expertise in his or her field is absolutely priceless.
The only way to get that continuum of care in your education is to show up for every single class, or at least as often as you can. (Not want to, can.) Commit to attending every class for the semester, and you’ll see an enormous difference from not attending classes at all or only doing so sporadically.
2. Use Your Resources
As a college student, you have myriad resources available to you. These come in the form of libraries, writing centers, professors, other students, on-campus tutoring.
Your university is designed to give you every possible tool for success in your field of study. They’re not going to be hiding this information from you. The more you seek out these resources, the bigger the benefit you will enjoy on your transcript.
3. Learn the Parking Sitch
Part of getting the most value out of college is being comfortable in your surroundings. Something as simple as going around to all the various buildings and figuring out the parking situation will put you in a good headspace for attending class and being at your best when you do so.
Also, you may want to master the art of parallel parking, arriving early enough to get the best spots, and noticing if there are any weird rules and regulations for how to park. For example, you’re listening to the guy who once got a ticket for pulling straight through on a parking grid so I could pull directly out without having to back out of a space.
Little did I know, my campus had a rule against that. While the ticket itself was only $10, it was enough of an annoyance to ensure that I never did it again. To this day, I feel a little funny doing it in a random parking lot because I think, what if this place has security with the same stupid rule? (I swear I’m not bitter.)
4. Keep Your ID With You at All Times
Having your ID with you at all times not only keeps you out of trouble and ensures that you can get into school functions; it also allows you to enjoy special events, discounts, and privileges, as many communities love to honor their students for bringing business and notoriety to their towns.
Leaving your ID in the dorm room might mean paying full price for a meal, not getting into Free Movie Night, or failing to benefit from the 10 percent off discount at a favorite store.
5. Make Partying Secondary
No one says you can’t, or shouldn’t, go to college to have fun. But remember that it’s not your first priority. You’re there to get a quality education, make networking contacts who can help you land a job, and build a personal network of friends who will enrich your life personally and professionally. Partying might feel good in the moment, but it’s not worth risking any of that. Therefore, it’s important to get your priorities in order from the very beginning.
6. Be Open to New Ideas
You don’t go to college to be shielded by challenging ideologies, or even people you disagree with. You go for the exposure to ideas. Any college or university that isn’t giving you that fails to do its job.
It can be jarring to leave your town where everything sort of makes sense and step into a new world where everything is bizarro. That doesn’t mean you’re right and they’re wrong or vice versa. It just means that it takes some getting used to, and you’ll generally come out better for it on the other side.
7. Do Not Shy Away from New Technologies
Technology is not slowing down any time soon. Don’t get stuck on the versions of it that you are comfortable with. Embrace the tech that doesn’t make sense to you; the devices, software, and trends that are intimidating and hard to follow.
The more you break through your own barriers and overcome technological hang-ups, the better at it you will be as you go further into life and your career. It will always give you an advantage.
8. Get Comfortable
For this, we mean when you are in class. This is something of an extension to the rule of arriving early and getting a good parking spot. Learn how long the walk from your spot to your classroom is, so you’re not bursting in the doors at the last minute or, worse, in the middle of a lecture.
Sit close to the front if you can. This will get you on the professor’s radar, facilitate one-on-one conversations, and help you see the board or projector screen better. Make yourself comfortable with where you sit and when you get there, and always come prepared with the appropriate school supplies.
9. Master the Art of Book Buying or Renting
There is a saying that the early bird gets the worm. Well, when it comes to buying books, the early bird gets broke. That’s because he ends up spending more money than he has to for a book that he may or may not need. Furthermore, he doesn’t give himself enough of an opportunity to explore what’s out there from an online perspective.
Today, students can avoid a book that costs hundreds by searching for it online, buying a slightly outdated version, renting, or getting it used. Since campus bookstores are notorious for paying fractions on the dollar to purchase back the books at the end of the semester, you can find another student who’s taken a class that you will be taking and offer a slightly better deal to get the book as cheaply as possible.
10. Build Rapport With Each of Your Professors
Get to know something personal about one of your professors. Take the time to learn about hobbies or movies of interest. Find some kind of loophole into their lives that makes approaching them and talking to them much easier to accomplish. It’s not about kissing up. It’s networking. You have to learn how to do it sooner or later, and your professors are great people to start on.
11. Keep Your Financials Simple
Avoid credit cards. Don’t spend money that you don’t have. Don’t borrow money to live on. Consider getting a part-time job for spending money and to begin saving for a rainy day. Try not to complicate your finances more than needed.
If you live in a city with public transportation, use it. This can help you avoid costly auto insurance, gas money, and car payment, thus bringing your overall expenses down considerably.
12. Know Thy Major
Not every career path needs a master’s degree, but you certainly need to know if yours does before signing up for the hefty expense of attending college. The longer you go to school, the bigger your debts will be, provided you don’t have a full ride anywhere. So make sure that you’ve chosen a career that is in-demand and that will pay well for your knowledge and training.
The Value of College Is Largely Up to You
The value of college is really what you make it. If you show up to college expecting a four-year party zone, then it’ll probably only be a one-semester party zone as you’ll be dropping out or getting kicked out in short order.
But if you focus on making the big things and the little things as great as they can be, you’ll see true results. We hope these suggestions will put you in the right headspace to get the most value out of college. Good luck, and share any thoughts you have on this topic in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by We Are Blood]