College: 3 Steps for Thriving

Not too long ago I graduated from college.  Now that I am in grad school, I’m employing a few skills that I learned during my undergrad years, and I think to myself, if only I would have done this in undergrad, I probably would have done a lot better.  I asked a few of my grad school classmates as well, and we came up with 3 of the most important steps for not only surviving, but thriving in college.

1. Avoid Procrastinating

The #1 bad habit among the college students that I know (and something that I struggled with for the first couple years) is procrastination.  That’s why you see and hear about students that pull all-nighters in the library to get a paper or some other assignment done.  It induces unnecessary stress and lowers the quality of work that you will ultimately hand in.  So how do you avoid procrastination?

Plan ahead.

I know it sounds simple, but it really works wonders to allot specific amounts of time toward specific assignments to make sure that it is finished, and reflects your best work, before it is due.  I personally used a Franklin Covey personal planner during undergrad.  Now that I’m in grad school, however, I’ve found Google Calendar extremely helpful.  Since most of us are constantly connected to the internet, Google Calendar is a really great option – it emails you when you reminders if you want it to, allows for color coding of different aspects of your calendar, lets you create a “tasks” list that you can check off as you go, and a bunch of other stuff that you can tailor to your needs.  Also, if you have allotted a certain amount of time for a specific task, do that task!  Sometimes it’s easy to plan your school schedule, but it is all for naught if you decide to surf facebook instead.

2. Find a Major that you are passionate about, AND that you feel confident will lead you to a job.

If you are interested in money management, check out the classes you would be able to take in an Economics major.  Are they interesting?  Do you find yourself checking out Forbes and The Wall Street Journal in your spare time?  That’s awesome!  Be passionate about what you learn in class.  Personally, I was very interested in constitutional issues and politics.  I loved keeping up with current events and public policy.  Political Science was a great major for me.  I genuinely enjoyed the classes that I took and the things I learned.  Analyze your interests, and try to align yourself with the best degree for you.  One word of caution, however – make sure you know what it takes to get a job in your chosen field.  If you are highly intellectual and want to major in philosophy because you are passionate about it, that’s great.  However, if you want a job, you probably need to be considering graduate programs to become a professor.  As a political science major, I knew that I needed to go to Law School to be able to get a job in the area of interest I have.  Look at the big picture when choosing a major.

3.  Use Old Exams as Study Guides

Most colleges, but not all, allow professors to place their old exams on reserve in the college library.  Did you know that?  It’s amazing!  If your professor has put his or her old exams in the library, you need to go find them ASAP.  What better way to study for an exam than to see what the Professor has tested on and how?  Finding the professor’s old exams will make your test prep go much smoother, and your extra prep will show once you sit down for the exam.

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